Mount Harkness

Chester, California 96020

Mount Harkness

Mount Harkness Professional Review and Guide

"Gazing down into the seemingly benign crater on the top of Mount Harkness, where the soil is just beginning to show its fertility by supporting a smattering of scraggly silverleaf lupine, it’s hard to imagine that this once was an active shield volcano. It oozed viscous lava of the type that pours out of the volcanoes on Hawaii, which has resulted in its broad stance. Once that relatively gentle phase of its volcanism ended, Mount Harkness birthed a cinder cone, which spewed the crumbling red rock that now adorns its slopes. These days, the mountain is a spectacular destination for hikers, its fiery past cloaked in stately evergreen forests and busy meadows of wildflowers. A lonely fire lookout stands atop the mountain, on the southern rim of the sloping crater. From here, a park service sentinel watches the forested slopes surrounding Lassen Peak for signs of fire. Hikers enjoy the same 360-degree views, looking west to the barren hulk of Lassen, south past Lake Almanor, east to the distant Sierra Buttes, and north to the Cinder Cone and the twin Prospect Peaks. Highlights: A hike to the top of one of the friendliest mountains in the park leads to great panoramic vistas from the lookout tower."

More Mount Harkness Professional Reviews and Guides

"From the lookout atop Mt. Harkness, snow-capped Lassen Peak and the rest of the peaks along ancient Mt. Tehama’s rim seem close enough to touch. The impressive vista extends far beyond the park boundary, encompassing an expansive section of the northern Sierra and southern Cascades. Although the climb is stiff, the trip is short enough that just about anyone in reasonable condition can manage it.

Unlike most fire lookouts today, the Mt. Harkness lookout is still staffed, so plan on a friendly welcome from the resident park employee. As with all high peaks, avoid the upper slopes when lightning threatens. Thanks to the fine network of connecting trails within the park, hikers with extra time and energy can alter their return by following a loop along the south shore of Juniper Lake back to the trailhead."

"Of the major peaks in Lassen Park, Mount Harkness is the easiest climb, but it has a full complement of views that rivals those of its sibling summits. Most people do Harkness as a day hike, but if you’re set on backpacking you’ll find the occasional level patch among trees. If you do an overnighter, bring all your water and obtain a permit from the Loomis Museum at the park’s northwest entrance station, from the park’s Mineral office, or from the Almanor Ranger District in Chester."

Mount Harkness Reviews

5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
icon1 Total
5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
Climb a volcano. We hiked when beautiful lupine fields were blooming near the peak. We enjoyed the majestic vistas of Lassen Peak and the volcanic back country of the National Park. Juniper Lake sparkles at the base of Mount Harkness. Posted a video of the hike at

Mount Harkness Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Day hike
Best July to late September
6,800 feet
Trailhead Elevation
8,046 feet
Top Elevation
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Local Contacts
USGS Mount Harkness; Lassen Volcanic National Park maps by the National Park Service, Earthwalk Press, and Wilderness Press; USDAFS Lassen National Forest
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018