Manzanita Lake is located close to the NW entrance of the park. It's a nice place to rest by the water, or to take a leasurely stroll around the lake for some great views of Lassen peak (like the one in the picture which shows the lake with Lassen Peak in the background). Manzanita lake is surrounded by willows, mountain alders and many other types of trees which I couldn't recognize. When we took our stroll we ran into a herd of deer; there were about ten of them.
In addition to the visual delights Manzanita Lake provides good fishing. One of the Lassen campgrounds is located here.
As you hike up Lassen Peak, you will see how desolate the terrain is at the higher elevations. These trees looks like they have gone through some pretty rough winters. The National Park does a good job of providing information about the flora and fauna of the park, so you can identify the trees, birds and other animals as you hike.
Lassen Peak is a dome volcano, the southernmost in the Cascade range. Together with Mount Shasta which lies to the north, Lassen Peak (also known as Mount Lassen) shapes the skyline of inland Northern California. It has last erupted in 1914-1915 followed by some minor volcanic activity in 1921. It was officially declared asleep in 1921.
The trail to the top is 5 miles round trip but despite the short distance the elevation gain of about 2000 feet makes this hike to be rated as moderate to strenous in difficulty. The trail starts from the park road (there is a parking lot at the start of the trail). At first the path winds through wooded area but pretty quick the vegetation is gone and you're left to enduring the strong winds blowing from the west. It's a good idea to bring a jacket. The trail is quite popular when conditions allow. A round trip takes between 2 and 4 hours.
The Cinder Cone Trail is another worthy hike at Lassen. The trail is 4 miles long and starts from the Butte Lake Campground located at the far northeast corner of the park. To get there we had to drive out of the park and back in on a dirt road. The first 2 miles of the hike are flat, going through forest area but the last half mile includes an fairly steep 800 feet ascension of the cone itself. This last half mile is not the most pleasant part of the hike, since the cone is made of pure gravel and you'll be making one step forward followed by two involuntary steps back. But seeing the bare volcanic landscape is worth the effort.
Perhaps the most popular hike in the Park is the trail to the top of Lassen Peak. It is 5 miles one way and ascends 2000 feet, with an average 15% grade. In other words, it is a fairly strenuous hike. No technical climbing is required, but hiking boots are a must because of the soft pumice. We hiked at a pretty good clip -- round trip, the hiking part took 4 hours.
Bumpass Hell Trail
Certainly, one of the most interesting hikes in Lassen National Park is the Bumpass Hell trail. The first part of the trail has switchbacks ascending a mountain and at the end of the trail is Bumpass Hell, a hotbed of volcanic activity, with fumaroles, hissing and slurping mud pots, stinky suphur beds and boiling ponds. Perfectly hellish!
At the top of Lassen Peak, a ranger will take you around the crater and download all sorts of interesting information about the mountain.
Check conditions before hiking. One June we turned around because of deep snow that year and we didn't have the right gear. The second time, we made sure we had no snow and we had no problems.
Lassen National Park has over 150 miles of hiking trails, including 17 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. Hiking is the best way to explore the park. You can see some interesting things from the road, but to really get into the heart of the park, you need to hike.
Seeing a picture of Bumpass Hell was what made me decide to come to Lassen in the first place (unfortunately my picture didn't come out that well, but that's because I followed the instructions and kept to the path; the earth is hot and steaming around there). Bumpass Hell is the largest area containing geothermal features in Lassen Volcanic National Park. It takes its name from an unfortunate gentleman who discovered the place and lost a leg there by falling into a hot mudpot.
The trail to Bumpass Hell is quite easy. It's 3 miles round trip and it doesn't change much in elevation. It's closed in the winter due to snow and even in the summer some patches of snow remain. The active area can be seen from some distance away. The sulphury smell will also attack before you reach the boardwalk that takes you close to the thermal area. Keep to the boardwalk and take some time exploring the steaming fumaroles and mudpots. The blue color of the springs makes for some beautiful photos.
This picture wasn't taken from the Lassen Peak's summit but from the trail to the summit. It shows the park road (and the parking lot at the head of the trail) and one of the many lakes of Lassen National Park. Once you reach the summit you can hike around it and see the remains of the last eruption of Lassen Peak, which took place in 1914. Much of the chunky rocks at the top were pushed out at the time of the eruption. By hiking around the summit you can also enjoy nice views of the park and of the mountain ranges that surround the park. But don't forget to bring a jacket, it's very windy at the top.
Sulphur Works is one of the sites of Lassen which is right next to the main road through the park so to get there you'll only have to park the car and walk for a very short distance. What you'll see is a cloud of steam. This hydrothermal area is believed to be part of the vent system that created Mount Temaha. The distinctive smell of rotten egg is due to the hydrogen sulphite gas.
The get to the Kings Creek Falls one has to hike the three miles round-trip trail which starts from the main road at the Kings Creek parking area. The trail goes through the forest and becomes parallel to the Kings Creek very early in the hike. You'll encounter a series of small cascades which end with the 50 feet high Kings Creek Fall.
Emerald Lake is a glacial lake that was named for the abundant green algae growing at the bottom of the warm, shallow lake, unlike deeper, cooler glacial lakes that are an aqua blue. Formed at the head of a valley glacier, Emerald Lake was originally fishless but years ago the lake was stocked with Rainbow Trout. Today, Park Managers are eradicating the trout as an alien species to try and save the endangered Cascade Frog. Emerald Lake, and the area around it, is also quite beautiful.
Bumpass Hell was named after one of the first white men in the area Kendal Vanhook Bumpass, who along with his partner, Major Pierson B. Reading made a claim on this area hoping to capitalize on the minerals and turn it into a tourist attraction. Bumpass lost a leg when he accidently broke through the thin crust into a boiling mud pool. At 16 acres, Bumpass Hell is the largest upward-flowing hydrothermal feature in the park. Here you can see: Boiling Springs; Mudpots; Fumaroles; and other interesting features.
It is not a real surprise to find Smokey Bear at Lassen with all the fumaroles !
Smokey Bear figure was coined in 1944 to warn about forest wildfires. You will find it at most if not all State Parks. If you want to know more about the history of Smokey Bear, visit this Pennsylvania website.
It became soon so popular that it has been registered by the US Secretary of Agriculture and is now a Trade Mark. Besides the figure that actually gives the level of fire hazard, there is a whole series of derivate articles on sale : Smokey Bear Gifts, Smokey Bear Wear, Smokey Gear, Smokey Plushes, etc…
You can find them at the website of Smokey Signals.