Hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park: A Guide to the Park's Greatest Hiking Adventures 1493044044, 9781493044047

From a challenging climb up Lassen Peak to easy rambles around crystal clear lakes, this indispensable guide covers the

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Hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park: A Guide to the Park's Greatest Hiking Adventures
 1493044044, 9781493044047

Table of contents :
Acknowledgments
meet your guide
Introduction
GEOLOGY
NATURAL HISTORY
HISTORY
How to Use This Guide
MILEAGES
DIFFICULTY RATINGS
ROUTE FINDING
MAPS
Backcountry Basics
BASIC EQUIPMENT FOR BACKCOUNTRY HIKERS
CRITTERS
BE BEAR AWARE
BE MOUNTAIN LION ALERT
WEATHER
LIGHTNING: YOU MIGHT NEVER KNOW WHAT HIT YOU
PLAY IT SAFE
Hypothermia
Heat-RelatedIllnesses
Hydration
Hydrothermal Areas
LEAVE NO TRACE
Lassen Essentials
CONTACTS
ROADS
CAMPING
MISCELLANEOUS REGULATIONS
BACKCOUNTRY PERMITS AND REGULATIONS
Lassen Volcanic NationalPark Trail Finder
Author Picks:14 Hikes in 14 Days
MAP LEGEND
Southwest Entrance
1 BROKEOFF MOUNTAIN
2 MILL CREEK FALLS
3 CONARD MEADOWS
4 RIDGE LAKES
Lake Helen
5 BUMPASS HELL
6 LASSEN PEAK
7 TERRACE AND SHADOW LAKES
8 CLIFF LAKE
9 TERRACE LAKE TO SUMMIT LAKE
Kings Creek
10 COLD BOILING LAKE
11 CRUMBAUGH LAKE
12 TWIN MEADOWS
13 SIFFORD LAKE
14 KINGS CREEK FALLS AND THE CASCADES
15 KINGS CREEK FALLS, BENCH LAKE, AND SIFFORD LAKE LOOP
16 KINGS CREEK FALLS TO CORRAL MEADOW
17 KINGS CREEK FALLS TO SUMMIT LAKE
Summit Lake
18 SUMMIT LAKE
19 ECHO LAKE
20 UPPER AND LOWER TWIN LAKES
21 LITTLE AND BIG BEAR LAKES
HONORABLE MENTIONS
RAINBOW LAKE
CLUSTER LAKES LOOP
SUMMIT LAKE TO CORRAL MEADOW
Emigrant Pass andHat Creek
22 PARADISE MEADOW
23 HAT LAKE TO TERRACE LAKE
24 NOBLES EMIGRANT TRAIL AT HAT CREEK
25 DEVASTATED AREA INTERPRETIVE TRAIL
Manzanita Lake
26 REFLECTION LAKE
27 LILY POND NATURE TRAIL
28 CHAOS CRAGS AND CRAGS LAKE
29 MANZANITA LAKE TRAIL
30 MANZANITA CREEK TRAIL
31 NOBLES EMIGRANT TRAIL—SUNFLOWER FLAT TO SUMMERTOWN
Butte Lake
32 BATHTUB LAKE
33 EAST PROSPECT PEAK
34 CINDER CONE
35 LAVA BED BEACHHEAD AT SNAG LAKE
36 BUTTE AND SNAG LAKES LOOP
HONORABLE MENTIONS
WIDOW LAKE
RAINBOW AND SNAG LAKES LOOP
Juniper Lake
37 MOUNT HARKNESS
38 JUNIPER LAKE LOOP
39 CRYSTAL LAKE
40 INSPIRATION POINT
41 JAKEY LAKE
42 CAMERON MEADOW AND GRASSY CREEK LOOP
43 HORSESHOE LAKE
44 HORSESHOE AND INDIAN LAKES LOOP
The Warner Valley
45 DREAM LAKE BASIN
46 DRAKE LAKE
47 DEVILS KITCHEN
48 BOILING SPRINGS LAKE
49 TERMINAL GEYSER
50 LITTLE WILLOW LAKE
HONORABLE MENTION
WARNER VALLEY TO CORRAL MEADOW
The Pacific Crest Trail
The Nobles Emigrant Trail
Appendix A: Hiker’s Checklist
Appendix B: Camping in Bear Country
Appendix C: Glossary
Appendix D: Further Reading
Hike Index

Citation preview

HIKING LASSEN VOLCANIC NATIONAL PARK A GUIDE TO THE PARK’S GREATEST HIKING ADVENTURES

THIRD EDITION

Tracy Salcedo

For my sons, Jesse, Cruz, and Penn

FALCONGUIDES GUIDES ® An imprint of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. 4501 Forbes Blvd., Ste. 200 Lanham, MD 20706 www​​​.rowman​​​.com Falcon and FalconGuides are registered trademarks and Make Adventure Your Story is a trademark of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. Distributed by NATIONAL BOOK NETWORK Copyright © 2020 The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. Photos by Tracy Salcedo unless otherwise noted Maps by Melissa Baker All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote passages in a review. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information available Library of Congress Cataloging-­in-­Publication Data available ISBN 978-1-4930-4404-7 (paper : alk. paper) ISBN 978-1-4930-4405-4 (electronic)

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/ NISO Z39.48-1992. The author and The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. assume no liability for accidents happening to, or injuries sustained by, readers who engage in the activities described in this book.

Contents ACKNOWLEDGMENTS MEET YOUR GUIDE

viii ix

INTRODUCTION 1 GEOLOGY 1 NATURAL HISTORY

3

HISTORY 5 HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE

8

MILEAGES 8 DIFFICULTY RATINGS

8

ROUTE FINDING

9

MAPS 9 BACKCOUNTRY BASICS BASIC EQUIPMENT FOR BACKCOUNTRY HIKERS

10 11

CRITTERS 11 BE BEAR AWARE

12

BE MOUNTAIN LION ALERT

15

WEATHER 16 LIGHTNING: YOU MIGHT NEVER KNOW WHAT HIT YOU

17

PLAY IT SAFE

17

 HYPOTHERMIA 17  HEAT-­RELATED ILLNESSES

19

 HYDRATION 19  HYDROTHERMAL AREAS LEAVE NO TRACE LASSEN ESSENTIALS

21 21 22

CONTACTS 22 ROADS 23 CAMPING 24 MISCELLANEOUS REGULATIONS

25

BACKCOUNTRY PERMITS AND REGULATIONS

26

TRAIL FINDER

27

AUTHOR PICKS: 14 HIKES IN 14 DAYS

30

MAP LEGEND

31

29

Manzanita Lake

44

To Redding

89

44

1

Brokeoff Mtn.

4

Ridge Lakes

Loomis Peak

89

Soda Lake

30

Lake

28 Crags

6

3

11

10

NAT I O NA L

Mount Conard

2

Crumbaugh Lake

5

Bumpass Hell

Lassen Peak

Lake Helen

Eagle Peak

d te ta a e

12

8

9

13

14 15

Summit Lake

Drake Lake

46

45

Drakesbad

16

17

18

Hat Mountain

LASSEN VO L C A N IC NAT I O NA L PA R K

Badger Flat

Badger Mountain

Devils 47 Kitchen

24

FOREST

7

23

22

25

Raker Peak

LASSEN NAT I O NA L FOREST

Hot Rock

gs

LASSEN

Blue Lake

26-27

31

Table Mountain

To 299

ev a A s r

19

49-50

cifi Tr c C ai re l st

48

Flatir o Ridg n e

Corral Meadow

Grassy Swale

21

Little & Big BearLakes 20

Cre st Tra il

er ust Cl akes L

Pacifi c

Saddle Mountain

Horseshoe Lake

43

Hidden Lake

Twin Lakes

Fairfield Peak

East Prospect Peak

44

34 Cinder Cone

33

To 44

0

0

a nt

37

40

4

Sunrise Peak

4

To Chester

Bonte Peak

Jakey Lake

Widow Lake

Juniper Lake

39

41

Cameron Meadow

36

Butte Lake

Miles

Kilometers

Mount Harkness

38

32

Snag Lake 42

35

Fa

s aB ed

Lav

sti c

OVERVIEW

ra s C

D

o Cha Pa

CARIBOU WILDERNESS

THE HIKES Southwest Entrance 1 Brokeoff Mountain 2 Mill Creek Falls 3 Conard Meadows 4 Ridge Lakes

Lake Helen

5 Bumpass Hell 6 Lassen Peak 7 Terrace and Shadow Lakes 8 Cliff Lake 9 Terrace Lake to Summit Lake

Kings Creek 10 Cold Boiling Lake 11 Crumbaugh Lake 12 Twin Meadows 13 Sifford Lake 14 Kings Creek Falls and the Cascades 15 Kings Creek Falls, Bench Lake, and Sifford Lake Loop 16 Kings Creek Falls to Corral Meadow 17 Kings Creek Falls to Summit Lake

Summit Lake 18 Summit Lake 19 Echo Lake 20 Upper and Lower Twin Lakes 21 Little and Big Bear Lakes Honorable Mentions Rainbow Lake Cluster Lakes Loop Summit Lake to Corral Meadow

32 33 37 40 43

47 49 53 57 60 63

67 68 71 74 77 80 84 88 92

96 98 101 105 110 117 118 120

Emigrant Pass and Hat Creek

121

22 Paradise Meadow 23 Hat Lake to Terrace Lake

123 126

THE HIKES v

24 Nobles Emigrant Trail at Hat Creek 25 Devastated Area Interpretive Trail

Manzanita Lake

130 134

137

26 Reflection Lake 139 27 Lily Pond Nature Trail 142 28 Chaos Crags and Crags Lake 145 29 Manzanita Lake Trail 148 30 Manzanita Creek Trail 151 31 Nobles Emigrant Trail—Sunflower Flat to Summertown 154

Butte Lake 32 Bathtub Lake 33 East Prospect Peak 34 Cinder Cone 35 Lava Bed Beachhead at Snag Lake 36 Butte and Snag Lakes Loop Honorable Mentions Widow Lake Rainbow and Snag Lakes Loop

Juniper Lake 37 Mount Harkness 38 Juniper Lake Loop 39 Crystal Lake 40 Inspiration Point 41 Jakey Lake 42 Cameron Meadow and Grassy Creek Loop 43 Horseshoe Lake 44 Horseshoe and Indian Lakes Loop

The Warner Valley 45 Dream Lake Basin 46 Drake Lake 47 Devils Kitchen 48 Boiling Springs Lake 49 Terminal Geyser 50 Little Willow Lake

vi THE HIKES

158 160 163 166 170 174 179 181

183 185 189 192 195 199 202 207 210

214 216 219 223 227 231 235

Honorable Mention Warner Valley to Corral Meadow

239

The Pacific Crest Trail

241

The Nobles Emigrant Trail

245

APPENDIX A: HIKER’S CHECKLIST

248

APPENDIX B: CAMPING IN BEAR COUNTRY

250

APPENDIX C: GLOSSARY

251

APPENDIX D: FURTHER READING

252

HIKE INDEX

253

THE HIKES vii

Acknowledgments This guidebook, in all its editions, would not have been possible without a lot of help. Steve Zachary, former education specialist for Lassen Volcanic National Park, and Anne Dobson, former executive director of the Lassen Loomis Museum Association (now the Lassen Association), both reviewed the manuscript for the first edition. The second edition was reviewed by Steve Zachary, Karen Haner, another former chief of interpretation for the park, and Melanie Allen, executive director of the Lassen Association. This time around, Melanie and Catherine Gaspar of the Lassen Association offered support andinput, as did Jennifer Finnegan, executive director of the Lassen Park Foundation. Lassen’s chief interpretive ranger Kevin Sweeney guided the manuscript through th review process with the help of Kristi Nielson in the interpretive operations office, park guide Greg Purifoy, and park guide Shanda Ochs. I also spoke with a number of wonderful rangers and volunteers while researching each edition of this guide and am grateful to all. Thanks to Ned Farnkopf for use of his family’s charming cabin outside Chester; it’s been an awesome base camp through the years. Thanks also to the staff and owners of the Bidwell House in Chester, another home away from home. Angela Jones and Caitlin Brown were superb hiking partners, and Chris Salcedo performed admirably as a chauffeur. Penn and Jesse Chourré did a commendable job of chauffeuring as well, and Penn’s photographic contributions are a welcome addition. The support and encouragement of colleagues at Streetwise Reports, who did their best not to snicker when I showed up on Mondays with sore feet, were critical to researching the second edition. The Glen Ellen Writers Circle, including Arthur Dawson, Ann Peters, Ed Davis, Fran Meininger, Sarah Phelps, and Jim Shere conspires to support my every writing effort. The folks at FalconGuides, including David Legere, Lynn Zelem, Karen Ackermann, Jessica D’Arbonne, and Kristen Mellitt have done excellent work guiding this and my other guides through the process. My family is, now and forever, integral to my work. Special thanks to my parents, Jesse and Judy, my brothers, Nick and Chris, and my amazing sons, Jesse, Cruz, and Penn. I’m a lucky woman.

viii

meet your guide TRACY SALCEDO has written guidebooks to a number of destinations in California and Colorado, including Hiking Northern California Waterfalls, Best Hikes Reno and Lake Tahoe, Hiking Through History San Francisco, Best Hikes Sacramento, and Best Easy Day Hikes guides to the San Francisco Bay Area, Lake Tahoe, San Jose, Reno, Sacramento, Fresno, Boulder, Denver, and Aspen. She’s also the author of Historic Yosemite National Park, Historic Denali National Park and Preserve, Death in Mount Rainier National Park, and Search and Rescue Alaska. Somehow she finds time to work as an editor and librarian as well. She lives with her family in California’s Wine Country. You can learn more by visiting her website at laughingwaterink​​.com.

ix

The famous Hot Rock, spewed from Lassen Peak in its 1915 eruptive cycle, is a touchstone along the park highway.

Introduction I’ve been walking in Lassen Volcanic National Park now for more than twenty-­five years. I’ve climbed its mountains over and over again, rambled through its woodlands, slogged through its cinders, cooled my heels in its lakes. I’ve never known a wild place as completely as I’ve come to know this place. In compiling three editions of this guidebook, I have walked nearly every inch of every trail within the park, and then some. It’s the oddest thing about me and Lassen. It’s as though I have roots in my feet with long memories. No matter how much time passes between visits, the moment I set foot in the park the roots unfurl, blast through the soles of my shoes and wind into the soil. The essence of the place rises into my bloodstream, quickens my heart. I can’t pass a sign that says Lassen on it without feeling a girlish thrill. I can hardly wait to reach Lake Helen, take a seat on the shore, and stare into the Eye of Vulcan. The mountain sees me, and I see it. It’s a full-­blown love affair. In the twenty years that have passed since I researched the first edition of Hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park, many things have changed. The funky old Lassen Chalet at the Southwest Entrance has been replaced by the Kohm Yah-­mah-­nee Visitor Center, a handsome modern structure that houses a theater, an educational store and gift shop, and a cafe. In 2012 the Reading Fire blasted through the backcountry, consuming more than 28,000 acres of forest. The Sulphur Works Trail has succumbed to the elements. The Bumpass Hell Trail has been revamped. And my knees have gotten creakier, an oddly satisfying reminder of miles explored both here and in other parks and wildernesses. But, thankfully, Lassen also remains much the same. The park is still relatively undiscovered. Yes, the most popular trails, like those to the summit of Lassen Peak and down to Kings Creek Falls, are crowded on weekends in summertime. But venture into the backcountry and you’ll be lucky if you encounter more than a handful of other hikers— a rare treat in a national park these days. The pace is slow, contemplative. Magma may still roil in the furnace that underlays Lassen’s geography, but on the surface all is serene. My hope for those who use this guidebook is that hiking in Lassen will inspire the same kind of passion I feel for this very special place. It could be a mixed blessing, because more love means more people, which may make it harder to find the precious solitude that makes walking here so special. But big, beautiful parks are intended to inspire and nurture all comers. Lassen Volcanic National Park is just such a park. Explore and rejoice.

GEOLOGY Standing on the slopes of Lassen Peak, you know the world is living. All may be quiet at present, but the mountain boils within, revealing its energy in the fumaroles, mudpots, and cauldrons simmering in hydrothermal areas on its flanks. 1

Lassen, generally believed to be the world’s largest plug dome volcano, last erupted more than a century ago. For three years during its eruptive cycle, from 1914 to 1917, it threw clouds of steam and ash thousands of feet into the air, spewed poisonous gasses, ejected hot rocks, and belched other volcanic detritus, fascinating and endangering those who lived in its shadow and thrilling those who read about the volcanic activity in newspapers. Its most notorious eruptions came in 1915. On the night of May 19, a massive mudflow coursed down the northeast face of the mountain, roaring down the Hat Creek and Lost Creek drainages and causing homesteaders in these valleys to flee for their lives. In the biggest eruption of the cycle, on May 22, huge volumes of hot gas and ash blew from the crater, creating dramatic volcanic phenomena known as lahars (mudflows) and pyroclastic flows of sizzling ash and steam. The ash plume rose 30,000 feet into the atmosphere, and fallout dropped as far away as Winnemucca, Nevada. In Hat Creek and Lost Creek, the flows took out everything—streambeds, woodlands, homesteads—for miles. That eruption left in its wake the Devastated Area, a swath of jumbled, naked rock and new earth upon which the forest still struggles to regenerate. Lassen is the southernmost of the famed Cascade volcanoes, which includes peaks that thrust up more than 14,000 feet, including Mount Shasta and Mount Rainier. The Cascades are part of the “Ring of Fire,” a girdle of seismic activity encircling the Pacific Ocean. From Malaysia to Alaska to the Andes, tectonic plates, pieces of the fractured shell of the planet, bump and slide and surrender to one another in wrenching cataclysms. Every significant geologic feature within the park, even the gentlest, was born of the movements of these plates. Look around: The peaks you see are all volcanic—cinder cones, shield volcanos, plug domes, the remains of a composite volcano that has long since collapsed.

Fireweed blooms on the shoreline of Cliff Lake.

2 Hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park

Three volcanos: Behind Butte Lake and the Fantastic Lava Beds rise the Cinder Cone, the long slopes of Prospect Peak (a shield volcano), and Lassen Peak, a plug dome volcano.

These days, Lassen slumbers. This deep sleep, whether permanent or temporary, offers the hiker a unique opportunity to wander among the mysteries and wonders of the volcanism that has shaped Northern California and the rest of Cascadia.

NATURAL HISTORY Plant and animal communities common to several different regions—the Cascades, the Great Basin, and the Sierra Nevada—reach a unique confluence in Lassen Volcanic National Park.Within its boundaries more than 700 plant species have been documented; the park’s website notes that more than 250 vertebrate species abide here, “as well as a host of invertebrates.” Fauna includes amphibians (newts and frogs), birds (including the rare California spotted owl), snakes (I’ve only seen two, and both slithered away before I could identify them), and larger mammals such as mule deer, the Sierra Nevada red fox, the reclusive mountain lion, the occasional wolf, and the American black bear (not always black; I encountered a cinnamon mother bear with cub near Diamond Peak and another mama, this one dark brown with a two-­toned brown cub, in the Kings Creek drainage). As you climb through the park, you’ll pass through four natural communities. In the lower reaches, below 6,500 feet, the mixed conifer (yellow pine) forest predominates, comprised of Jeffrey pine, ponderosa pine, sugar pine, incense cedar, and white fir. A wide variety of understory plants, including an abundance of wildflowers and low-­g rowing shrubs, thrive here, along with a number of animal and bird species, including the ubiquitous golden-­mantled ground squirrel, mule deer, black bear, and songbirds.

Introduction  3

A leopard lily blooms alongside a footbridge in Cameron Meadow.

Between 6,500 and 8,000 feet, the upper montane (red fir) forest takes over. Little grows beneath the canopy of a stand of dense red fir, but in open areas or areas shaded by more widely spaced western white pines, a colorful undergrowth blooms, including wildflowers such as Indian paintbrush, mountain mule ear, penstemon, and crimson columbine. Pinemat manzanita, an evergreen shrub with bright green leaves and smooth red bark, grows in foot-­high, trail-­crowding thickets in open areas and on rocky benches. The lodgepole pine finds purchase on thinner soils at these elevaLassen Volcanic National Park is one of eight parks tions. Though this zone supports less diversity, fauna participating in the Pikas found in the mixed conifer forest also abide here, in Peril survey, which with the addition of elusive creatures like the pine studies how climate marten and the red fox. change is impacting the habitat of this adorable Higher still, between 8,000 and 10,000 feet, indicator species. the subalpine complex flourishes. At this altitude, whitebark pine and mountain hemlock dominate a forest stunted by heavy loads of snow, sometimes flattened into knee-­high krummholz. A greater variety of wildflowers blossoms here, including paintbrush, silverleaf lupine, and purple penstemon. This is the territory of the yellow-­bellied marmot and the chirpy pika, as well as a variety of birdlife and insects. Finally, in the park’s highest reaches (generally above 9,000 feet and above treeline), the alpine natural community takes over. The habitat is desertlike, with water often staying frozen except during a brief summer season. Flora is dominated by low-­g rowing wildflowers like pink pussy paws, with blooms on short stems open to sunshine while hunkered against wind. The pika and several rodents, as well as some hardy birds and insects, visit the high ground, but don’t generally call it home year-­round. 4 Hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park

HISTORY As with all early habitation of North America, placing an exact date on the arrival of human beings in the region surrounding Lassen Peak is next to impossible. Several Native American groups, however, were well established in the area when the first Europeans arrived on the scene. The first peoples had likely been making summertime visits to what is now the national park for thousands of years, but conditions Geologists believe Lasin winter were too hostile to permit year-­ round sen Peak, a plug dome volcano, began to rise habitation in the high country. about 27,000 years ago. Two northern California tribes with homelands It vents the same magma neighboring Lassen, the Yana and the Yahi, were chamber that built its precursor, the Mount eventually obliterated by the disease and conflicts Tehama stratovolcano. that arrived with white emigrants in the early and mid-1800s. The story of the last “wild” Yahi Indian, Ishi, who emerged from the woods south of Lassen early in the twentieth century and spent his final years helping anthropologists from the University of California document his culture, is told in the classic book Ishi in Two Worlds, by Theodora Kroeber. Two other tribes, the Maidu and the Atsugewi, also called the woods and canyons around Lassen home. They were nearly decimated by disease and warfare, but some still live in the region. Settlement in Lassen country has been sparse when compared to the rest of California but has produced its share of interesting characters. Chief among those is the namesake of both park and peak, Peter Lassen. A blacksmith from Denmark, Lassen immigrated to America in 1829 and then continued his migration west, acquiring a large Mexican land grant in the upper Sacramento Valley by the middle of the nineteenth century. Hoping to establish a town he’d call Benton City on his land, he recruited emigrants from back East and led them westward to his rancho via a circuitous route. The Lassen Trail turned out to be of dubious quality—yes, the travelers got where they wanted to go, but they were so hammered by hunger and exhaustion by the time they arrived that the trail blazer earned himself not fame but infamy. A second emigrant trail, established by William H. Nobles, was considerably more successful. Used by thousands of travelers in the 1850s and 1860s, sections of this route are preserved within the park and can be enjoyed by present-­day visitors. While Lassen’s backcountry remained relatively unspoiled, the land surrounding the volcano was homesteaded in the latter part of the 1800s and into the early twentieth century. Ranchers ran livestock in the high meadows in summer, and lumber, railroad, and mining companies exercised their interests in the region. The Supan family, for instance, had some success mining the Sulphur Works. Vacationers escaping the summertime heat of the upper Sacramento River valley found refuge in the scenic high country surrounding the peak. Drakesbad, a resort established in the Warner Valley at the turn of the twentieth century, and other retreats at Juniper Lake accommodated visitors from Sacramento, Redding, and distant San Francisco. Travelers were entranced by the wonders of the region and touted it to friends and acquaintances. That public love made Lassen Peak and its environs the focus of preservation efforts for at least ten years before it became a national park. Though commercial development had taken place in the region, most of the landscape remained wild into the twentieth century. As part of ongoing efforts to preserve their Introduction  5

LASSEN IN ACTION CIRCA 1916 The centerpiece of a short film released in 1918—a historic snapshot of the park—is footage of Lassen in action. As novel now as it was at the time, the grainy silent movie, in the florid words of one reviewer, shows Lassen’s “billowy vapors, black furnace emanations, eruptive energy and all [are] a wonderful sight that will make patrons of the ‘silent drama’ clap their hands and shout ‘bravo!’”. Lassen’s major eruption is not captured in this footage; instead, it shows what is thought to be a lesser eruption that occurred sometime before 1917. Almost as interesting, for those who know and love the park, are scenes of other familiar landmarks. Bumpass Hell appears without boardwalks, an expanse of boiling pools and steam vents, a moonscape foreign and spellbinding. In Devils Kitchen, sulfuric steams issue from fumaroles and thumping “paint pots,” but again, no boardwalks, no trail signs. Boiling Springs Lake is dubbed Lake Tartarus (a “lake of fire” from Greek mythology). Formal pathways have long since been beaten into the cinder fields, but what you see at Cinder Cone is essentially what you get today—volcanic bombs; the beachhead on Snag Lake; the ragged lava beds. The film, shot throughout what was then a newly established park by cinematographer J. J. Hammer of Red Bluff, California, and colleague H. A. Phillips, is part of the National Film Preservation Foundation’s Eye Project, and can be viewed at www​​.filmpreservation​​.org/preserved-­films/screening​-­room/a-­trip​ -­through-­lassen-­volcanic-­national-­park-1918.

The forces that generated Lassen’s eruptions in the early twentieth century still simmer.

remarkable natural features, both Lassen Peak and the Cinder Cone were designated national monuments in 1907. Congressman John Raker, who vacationed in Drakesbad with his family, petitioned Congress to set aside the area as a national park in 1912, and other movers and shakers, including newspaperman Michael Dittmar and businessman Arthur Conard, also pressed for preservation. Raker and Conard, as well as other park champions, have mountains and meadows in the park named in their honor.

6 Hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park

But Lassen Peak might never have become the centerpiece of a national park if it hadn’t blown its top. During its active phase, between 1914 and 1921, the volcano drew a number of intrepid scientists and thrill seekers to its summit. In 1914–1915, when the volcano was fully involved, curious and clueless men wandered the summit slopes carrying cameras and scientific equipment. Sometimes they were greeted by a crater puffing steam; sometimes Vulcan vented hot rocks and gas at them, forcing them to run for their lives. No one died, but one story describes a man knocked out cold and left for dead after he was struck by rocks hurled downslope at him and a companion. One of the park’s greatest champions, Benjamin F. Loomis, a local resident and photographer, climbed to the 10,457-foot summit on a number of occasions and produced a fascinating collection of pictures of the mountain in action. One startling and spectacular Loomis series documents a 1914 eruption; these photographs are among the exhibits in the park’s Loomis Museum. Instead of scaring supporters off, the eruptions bolstered the case for preservation presented by the politicians and boosters. Lassen and environs were preserved as a national park in 1916, the same year the National Park Service was established. As if in response to this acknowledgment, the volcano grew quiet. A hundred years after the park’s inauguration, it remains quiescent.

Introduction  7

How to Use This Guide MILEAGES The original research for this guidebook was done in the summers of 1998 and 1999. These were nascent days for global positioning systems: I carried an archaic GPS unit for a bit, but could only get signal if I climbed to the top of something completely exposed to the sky. Since many of Lassen’s trails run through forest, the unit proved dead weight. On the trail to Twin Lakes I met a ranger carrying a giant pack with an antenna jutting over his head; this was the only GPS that worked in the place in those days. Trails were hiked again using modern GPS technology in the summers of 2012 and 2013. Still, the exact mileages of hikes were difficult to pinpoint. Distances listed on trail signs don’t necessarily mesh with maps or GPS readings. For this edition I have relied mostly on the mileages logged on my GPS unit, which means that in some cases mileages listed in the book vary from distances listed on signs and/or maps. Discrepancies seldom exceeded 0.5 mile and shouldn’t Trail markers—yellow, red, and some even gold— affect a hiker’s ability to gauge the have been tacked to trees to keep hikers en route, but nature does take its toll. difficulty or duration of a given hike. DIFFICULTY RATINGS The hikes are rated easy, moderate, or strenuous. In assigning a label, I took into account elevation gains and losses, hiking surfaces, and distances. Generally speaking, easy hikes are short and relatively flat. Moderate hikes involve greater distances and (perhaps) greater elevation changes. Strenuous hikes include the ascents of mountains, long-­distance loops or shuttles, and routes that include challenging trail surfaces, such as cinders. Keep in mind that if you keep a pace within your level of fitness, drink plenty of water, and stoke up on high-­energy foods, you can make most any trail easy. 8

A message to fellow hikers on the trail to Kings Creek Falls. While the sentiment is sweet, visitors should strive to leave no trace.

ROUTE FINDING Trails within Lassen Volcanic National Park are generally very well marked and maintained. But, as you will see on maps of the area—those in this guide, as well as on US Geological Survey (USGS) and other maps of the park—the trails don’t have names or numbers, and they seldom lead to a single destination. Instead, Lassen’s trail system is a web of interlocking routes. I have broken these routes down into logical, easy-­to-­follow day hikes and short backpacking trips, both loops and out-­and-­back affairs. But there are myriad combinations. This guide covers just about every trail but not every combination; the possibilities are endless for the hardy and experienced explorer. For clarity’s sake I have labeled trails on some of the maps, but keep in mind that these are not official trail names. MAPS A number of good maps cover the park. The USGS topographic maps that pertain to each route are listed in the hike descriptions. The Lassen Volcanic National Park map produced by the National Park Service is a good basic resource and should be carried in every hiker’s backpack. I recommend two excellent composite maps of the park, the Lassen Volcanic National Park Hiking Map and Guide by Earthwalk Press and the topographic map to Lassen Volcanic National Park by Wilderness Press. The Lassen National Forest map, produced by the US Forest Service, also shows some of the park’s trails, as well as access roads to trailheads off the beaten track, but it has no topographic detail and is not the best park resource. These maps and other resources are available at all sales outlets within the park or can be ordered through the Lassen Association, PO Box 220, Mineral, CA 96063; (530) 5954464; lassenassociation​​.org. How to Use This Guide 9

Backcountry Basics Lassen Volcanic National Park is a challenging place to get around. The landscapes are rugged even in the frontcountry, where trails are wide and destinations are within a few miles of the trailheads.Venture into the backcountry, and it is possible to travel for miles without seeing another soul. Of course that just adds to the fun. It also means that, no matter the length of your hike, you should be prepared. For starters, every hiker should carry survival and first-­aid equipment, layers of clothing for all kinds of weather, a compass, and a good topographic map—and know how to use them. The next best piece of safety advice is to hike with a partner or a party. If you choose to hike alone, tell somebody where you’re going and when you plan to return. Finally, before you set out on any hike in Lassen, consider physical conditioning. Being fit makes wilderness travel more fun and much safer. Every trail in Lassen is above 5,000 feet in altitude, which means that cardiovascular fitness is paramount. Even if you are a supreme physical specimen, give yourself time to acclimate to the altitude. Here are a few more tips: • Check the weather forecast. Be careful not to get caught at high altitude in a bad storm or along a stream in a flash flood. Watch cloud formations so that you don’t get caught on a ridgeline during a lightning storm. Avoid traveling during prolonged periods of cold weather. • Keep your party together; move only as fast as your slowest companion. • Before you leave for the trailhead, find out as much as you can about the route, especially the potential hazards. Park service rangers are your best source for trail beta. • Don’t wait until you’re confused to look at your map. Follow it as you go, maintaining a continual fix on your location. • If you get lost, don’t panic. Sit down, relax, check your topo map, and get your bearings. Confidently plan your next move. It’s often smart to retrace your steps until you find familiar ground, even if you think that might lengthen your trip. If you calmly and rationally determine a plan of action, you’ll be fine. • If you are genuinely lost, stay put.Your pack should contain backcountry essentials, including water, an emergency blanket, and an emergency whistle, which will help ensure your safety until help arrives. • Stay clear of all wild animals. Make sure you know how best to deal with encounters with a black bear, mountain lion, or other animal in the backcountry. Lastly, don’t forget that knowledge is the best defense against unexpected hazards.

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BASIC EQUIPMENT FOR BACKCOUNTRY HIKERS Your first-­aid kit should include, at a minimum: aspirin or other over-­the-­counter pain reliever, antibacterial ointment, antiseptic swabs, butterfly bandages, adhesive tape, adhesive strips, two triangular bandages, two inflatable splints, moleskin or Second Skin for blisters, 3-inch gauze, rubber gloves, tweezers, a multitool, and first-­aid instructions. Pack a survival kit that includes, at a minimum: compass and map (a GPS unit will do, but be sure to carry extra batteries), whistle, signal mirror, flashlight, water purification tablets, and space blanket. While waterproof matches or a cigarette lighter can also be carried, do not use them to build a fire for any reason. CRITTERS You will share Lassen Volcanic National Park’s trails with a large number of wild creatures, many of which will go unseen and undetected. Others will come right up to you, including that adorable golden-­mantled ground squirrel that wants to share your granola bar. Some will pester you, such as horseflies, bees, and wasps. Some you may only catch fleeting glimpses of, such as mule deer and pileated woodpeckers. And some you may only encounter by way of what they leave behind: footprints and scat. For the most part, animal encounters in Lassen are benign. To keep them that way, abide by two basic rules for both your safety and that of the animals: • Do not feed any wild animal, no matter how cute or how much it begs. Acclimating ground squirrels, deer, birds, and larger mammals like bears to human food is not only dangerous for humans but also reduces the animals’ ability to survive when the humans have gone home. • Keep your distance. Approaching a wild creature not only increases the chance that you might get bitten (or worse) but also increases anxiety levels for the animals. Wildlife finds a way: A golden-­mantled ground squirrel poses on a rock atop Brokeoff Mountain, waiting on hikers to drop snack food. Don’t give in to the cuteness; the rodent is best able to survive foraging for itself.

Backcountry Basics 11

BE BEAR AWARE Though black bears generally stay clear of humans, they can be encountered anywhere in Lassen Volcanic National Park: stopping traffic on the park highway, checking out backcountry camps, alongside trails. The first step for any hiker venturing into bear country is an attitude adjustment. Black bears do not, as a rule, attack humans, but they may pose a danger if you handle your food improperly, startle them, or get between a mother bear and her cub. Food is the primary instigator of bear-­human interactions. Keep in mind that letting a bear get human food is contributing—directly—to the eventual destruction of that bear. Think of proper bear etiquette as protecting the bears as much as yourself. Avoid bear encounters while hiking by making noise. If you travel with a group, conversation is an effective bear deterrent. If traveling alone, wear a bear bell or make noise by singing or talking to yourself. The bears don’t care if you’re tone deaf and won’t question your sanity. . . . even if no person is around to hear. If you encounter a black bear in Lassen’s backcountry, remember the following: • Keep your distance. Maintain a separation of at least 100 yards/300 feet from any black bear. • Do not run. Running may initiate a predatory response from the bear. • Back away. Turning your back on the animal may trigger a predatory response. • Don’t climb a tree—black bears can climb them too. • If you are with small children, pick them up without bending over. If you are in a group, band together. • If attacked, defend yourself. Try to remain standing. Do not feign death. Use bear spray if you have it. • Respect any warning signs posted by agencies, including trail closures. • Teach others in your group how to behave in case of a black bear encounter. Report encounters, including location, to park rangers, who may want to post education/warning signs. • If physical injury occurs, leave the area. Do not disturb the site of an attack. Black bears that have attacked people must be killed, and an undisturbed site is critical for effectively locating the dangerous animal.

“HEY BEAR” With as many as thirty black bears calling Lassen Volcanic National Park home, it’s a wonder I hadn’t encountered one earlier. After several seasons of hiking research and several other trips to the park, I’d had nary a bear sighting. But the 2013 hiking season was a watershed. In late June a mama bear with a beautiful cinnamon coat stopped traffic when she led her little cub across the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway at Diamond Peak. Another bear haunted the trail to Devils Kitchen, giving fellow hikers a thrill. And my third bear encounter was a paradigm shifter. I will never walk alone in the woods the same way again. The plan was to link Kings Creek Falls with Summit Lake, tying in a side trip to Corral Meadow. It began well, with a pleasant descent to the falls. On the way over the ridge that separates Kings Creek from the no-­name creek to the

12 Hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park

north, I met a young couple who alerted me: They had encountered a mama bear and her cub down by the little streams feeding Kings Creek, “way, way down.” The bears turned them around. The encounter was about an hour old, and we agreed the bears would likely have moved on by the time I reached the streamlets. So I went way, way down and crossed the little streams, with no sign of bear. I passed another couple on their way up to Kings Creek Falls; no mention of bear. All she wanted to know was how much farther the falls were; that was the lunch stop, and she was hungry. With thoughts of bear having completely slipped my mind, I continued way, way down to Kings Creek, rumbling and secluded. I rock-­hopped a little side stream into a thicket of willow, picking my way through the underbrush on the narrow path. I was almost 4 miles from the Kings Creek Falls Trailhead, 1,500 feet down. At the junction with the trail that was my return route, I stopped, contemplated whether I had time to make the side trip, lifted my GPS to mark the waypoint . . . Snap. I looked up. There, not more than 100 feet to my left, was a bear cub, poking through the deadfall. Quick scan . . . There, not more than 50 yards beyond, was mama bear, drawing a bead on me, back arched, shoulders tensed. She was all dark brown bulk but for those shining, intent, black eyes. She was ready to whack me upside the head if I messed with her baby. She was very direct. Every hair on my body stood on end. Everything about me was electrified. I wasn’t rendered completely witless; noting that cub and mama were between me and my destination, I made the wise choice to go back the way I’d come. Mama bear left no room for negotiation. It took me a few steps before I remembered the bear mace in my skirt pocket. I took it out and armed it, wondering which to shoot first, mama or baby. Then I remembered something else. I needed to make noise.

Kings Creek meanders through the turning grasses of its upper meadow before plunging over a scenic falls. PENN CHOURRE

Backcountry Basics 13

“Hey bear. Hey bear. Hey bear.” Turns out I had no control over the pitch. My voice was normal on the hey; it rose to a near squeak on the bear. I argued with myself while I yelled. I didn’t want to backtrack. Going “way, way down” meant I’d have to go “way, way up.” And my ride waited a mere 1.7 miles ahead, as opposed to nearly 4 miles back. “Hey bear. Hey bear.” Common wisdom asserts black bears run away when people are around. Black bears are supposed to run even farther when people make noise. Heck, I’d witnessed that firsthand on other occasions, in other locations. And I’d written about it in other guidebooks. So, still shouting, bear mace in hand, I paused. I thought: They’ve moved on. With all this noise, they’ve moved on for sure now. I turned around and walked back toward the trail junction. . . . And there was the cub. A ratty looking thing, no cute little fuzzy wuzzy. It was not more than 25 feet to my left. No sign of mama, and that’s who I was worried about. Where the hell was she? I had no choice. I turned around again. Yelling, “Hey bear, hey bear,” I retreated, rock-­hopped the little creek like a gymnast, and strode to the base of the big uphill. (Note: I should not have turned my back on the bears. I should have faced them as I retreated so I looked less like prey. Then again, walking backward on a narrow trail isn’t part of my skill set, and if I’d fallen, I’d have looked pretty preylike. I kept some of my wits, but not all of them.) As I started the long trek back up, I let the bears know exactly how I felt about the situation. They weren’t the only ones who got an earful; if there was anyone else in the Kings Creek drainage, they knew exactly where I was and that I was pissed. “I don’t want to go back this way,” I yelled at mama and her scruffy cub. “This is going to take me forever. It’s steep! Do you know I hiked more than 10 miles yesterday? This is going to be miserable . . . and my son is going to be wondering where the hell I am. I’m supposed to meet him at Summit Lake. And I have no cell coverage. I hope I can get coverage from the ridgetop. When I get there . . . eventually . . . And what was with that other couple? Did they walk right past you? Did they not even see you? Why didn’t they say something? Was she really that hungry that she didn’t notice the bear in the trail? How bizarre is that?” The climb got earnest. I ran out of things to yell. So I started to sing. And then I was out of breath, so I started counting my steps: “One and . . . two and . . . three and . . .” And then I was really out of breath, but I didn’t want to stop, just in case the bears were following: “Fifty-­four and . . . sixty-­one and . . . sixty-­six and . . .” I was still clutching my bear spray when I reached the little creeks, back in prime bear territory, luscious herbaceous greenery all around. I glanced at my GPS: I’d come a quick, adrenaline-­driven mile. My witless self was wrestling with my logical self and winning: The bears are following me because they can hear my voice . . . but no, they aren’t really. They are coming cross-­country, and because they move much faster than I do, they are probably up ahead on the trail, waiting for me . . . I will be trapped in the Kings Creek drainage forever . . . And then it occurred to me: I had my emergency whistle! I contemplated turning around, returning to the trail junction, blowing the whistle and watching the bears scatter. Take that! But I was already a mile away, already a mile up. And what if the bears didn’t run away? What if that was their place, and they weren’t moving for anyone? Besides, did I really want to scare bears? Did I want to stoop that low just to save myself a mile? I resumed the long slog upward, not counting any more, bear spray disarmed. I scanned the woods like an owl, jumping when brown stumps

14 Hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park

appeared on the forest floor because, at first glance, they looked like angry mama bears or scruffy cubs. I heard something scamper up a tree and my hair stood on end again: It was a ground squirrel, and it was darned lucky the bear mace was unarmed. I jumped and twitched back to the Kings Creek Falls overlook, where all the tension and strength drained out of my body. I had another 1.5 miles to go, and about 500 vertical feet to climb, but with the release, I became a slug. The only people I beat to the trailhead were an elderly couple and a mother with her own unruly cub, a little boy who was back-­talking and whining. He didn’t want to go to the falls, no matter that hiking is one of the main attractions in this beautiful park. It was all I could do to keep from rearming the bear mace.

BE MOUNTAIN LION ALERT Though many people consider themselves lucky to see a mountain lion in the wild, the big cats—nature’s perfect predator—are potentially dangerous. Sightings within Lassen Volcanic National Park are relatively rare, and attacks on humans are extremely rare, but it’s wise to educate yourself before heading into mountain lion habitat. To stay as safe as possible when hiking in mountain lion country, follow this advice: • Travel with a friend or in a group, and stay together. • Don’t let small children wander away by themselves. • Avoid hiking at dawn and dusk, when mountain lions are most active. • Know how to behave if you encounter a mountain lion. The vast majority of mountain lions exhibit avoidance, indifference, or curiosity that never results in human injury. But it is natural to be alarmed if you have an encounter of any kind. Keep your cool by remembering the following: • If a mountain lion is more than 50 yards away and directs its attention to you, it may be only curious.You should back away, keeping the animal in your peripheral vision. Look for rocks, sticks, or something else to use as a weapon, just in case. Keep small children close. Mountain lions are not known to attack humans to defend young or a kill, but they have been reported to “charge” in rare instances. It’s best to choose another route or time to hike through the area. • If a mountain lion is crouched less than 50 yards away and staring at you, it may be assessing the chances of a successful attack. Slowly back away, but maintain eye contact. Do not run; running may stimulate a predatory response. Make noise, talking and yelling loudly and regularly. Try not to panic. Shout to make others in the area aware of the situation. Raise your arms above your head and make steady waving motions, or raise your jacket or another object above your head to make yourself appear larger. Do not bend over, as this will make you appear smaller and more preylike. • If you are with small children, pick them up without bending over. If you are a group, band together. • Defend yourself and others. If attacked, fight back. Try to remain standing. Do not feign death. Pick up a branch or rock; pull out a knife, pepper spray, or other

Backcountry Basics 15

deterrent device. Individuals have successfully fended off mountain lions with rocks, tree limbs, and even cameras. • Respect any warning signs posted by agencies. • Teach others in your group how to behave in the event of a mountain lion encounter. Report encounters, including location, to park rangers, who may want to visit the site and, if appropriate, post education/warning signs. • If physical injury occurs, leave the area. Do not disturb the site of an attack. Mountain lions that have attacked people must be killed, and an undisturbed site is critical for effectively locating the dangerous mountain lion.

WEATHER The Mountain Maidu called Lassen Peak Kohm Yah-­mah-­nee, which translates to “Snow Mountain.” And with good reason. The peak is never completely free of snow and, depending on the severity of the winter, can remain draped in whiteness into August. After heavy snows blanketed Northern California and the Sierra Nevada in 2018–2019, the park highway didn’t open until the end of June, and drifts at the Lassen Peak Trailhead towered 15 feet high. Hiking trails melt off more slowly as the altitude increases; thus trails on the mountain’s lower slopes are In a typical winter, about 30 accessible earlier than those reached from the feet of snow will accumulate park highway near Lake Helen. in ­Lassen’s high country, with drifts 40 feet deep. During a “typical” hiking season, generally from mid-­May to October, sunny skies and moderate temperatures predominate. The mountains are occasionally beset by thunderstorms, which may include hail and lightning. At higher altitudes you may encounter wind and temperatures that drop suddenly, so be sure to pack layers of additional clothing. Lassen’s slopes and trails may hold snow into late summer, and the highest reaches hold snow year-­round. In 2019 more than 15 feet of snow framed the Eye of Vulcan at the Lassen Peak Trailhead.

16 Hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park

Average temperatures in the height of the hiking season, from mid-­June through early September, range from the high 70s to the mid-80s. Expect temperatures to drop the higher in elevation you travel. Average lows in the park during the same season range from just above freezing (34°F) to the low 40s. In the winter months, average high temperatures range from the low 50s to the upper 60s. December and January are, on average, the coldest months in the park. Average snowfall at Manzanita Lake is about 200 inches; at the apex of the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway, snow depths can reach 40 feet.

LIGHTNING: YOU MIGHT NEVER KNOW WHAT HIT YOU Mountains are prone to sudden thunderstorms. If a storm gathers while you are in the backcountry, take special precautions. Lightning storms usually don’t last long, and from a safe vantage point, you might enjoy the sights and sounds. • Lightning can travel ahead of a storm, so take cover before the storm hits. • Don’t try to make it back to your vehicle. Instead, seek the closest shelter, even if you are only a short way from the trailhead. Seek shelter in a low-­lying area, ideally in a stand of small, uniformly sized trees. • Be especially careful not to get caught on a mountaintop or exposed ridge; under large, solitary trees; in the open; or near standing water. • Avoid anything that attracts lightning, like metal tent poles, graphite fishing rods, or pack frames. • Crouch with both feet firmly on the ground. • If you have a pack (without a metal frame) or a sleeping pad with you, put your feet on it for extra insulation against shock. • Don’t walk or huddle together. Instead, stay 50 feet apart so if somebody gets hit by lightning, others in your party can give first aid. • If you are in a tent, stay in your sleeping bag with your feet on your sleeping pad.

PLAY IT SAFE Both terrain and altitude conspire to make Lassen subject to extremes of cold and heat. Insulate yourself against the potential dangers of both by keeping properly hydrated, carrying high-­energy snacks, wearing a hat, applying sunscreen, and packing layers of clothing that you can add or shed depending on the conditions. Hypothermia Hypothermia is a condition in which the body’s internal temperature drops below normal. It is caused by exposure to cold; is aggravated by wetness, wind, and exhaustion; and can be life-­threatening. The moment you begin to lose heat faster than your body produces it, you’re suffering from exposure.Your body starts involuntary exercise, such as shivering, to stay warm, and makes involuntary adjustments to preserve normal temperature in vital organs, restricting blood flow in the extremities. Both responses drain your energy reserves.With full-­blown

Backcountry Basics 17

The park in hiking season can run hot and cold in more ways than one. A June sun works to melt the ice on Emerald Lake.

hypothermia, as energy reserves are exhausted, cold blood reaches the brain, depriving you of good judgment and reasoning power—and you won’t be aware this is happening. Without treatment, your internal temperature will slide downward, leading to stupor, collapse, and death. To defend against hypothermia, stay dry. Choose rain gear that covers the head, neck, body, and legs, and provides good protection against wind-­driven rain. Most hypothermia cases develop in air temperatures between 30°F and 50°F, but hypothermia can develop in warmer temperatures. If your party is exposed to wind, cold, and wet, watch for the “umbles”: stumbling, mumbling, fumbling, and grumbling. Symptoms of hypothermia include uncontrollable fits of shivering; vague, slow, slurred speech; memory lapses; incoherence; immobile or fumbling hands; frequent stumbling or a lurching gait; drowsiness; apparent exhaustion; and inability to get up after a rest. When a member of your party has hypothermia, he or she may deny having a problem. Believe the symptoms, not the victim. Even mild symptoms demand the following treatment: 18 Hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park

• Get the victim out of the wind and rain. • Strip off all wet clothes. • If the victim is only mildly impaired, provide warm drinks. Then get the victim into warm clothes and a warm sleeping bag. Place well-­wrapped water bottles filled with heated water close to the victim. • If the victim is badly impaired, attempt to keep him or her awake. Put the victim in a sleeping bag with another person—both naked. If you have a double bag, put two warm people in with the victim.

Heat-­Related Illnesses Lassen’s backcountry, particularly at lower elevations and in areas without shade (such as the cinder fields in the Butte Lake area), occasionally reaches temperatures conducive to the development of heat exhaustion and, in extreme cases, life-­threatening heatstroke. Though the likelihood is generally low, increases in humidity, coupled with high ambient air temperatures, also increase the risk of heat-­related illness. And due to higher altitudes, sunburn is more likely (though this is not necessarily temperature-­related). Hikers can avoid heat-­related illness and sunburn by limiting activity in the heat of the day, hydrating, selecting routes that are shaded or along waterways, and applying sunscreen.You can also buy and wear clothing that breathes, allows perspiration to evaporate and cool the skin, and protects against ultraviolet radiation. Wearing a lightweight, brimmed hat will help. Watch for warning signs of heat-­related illness, both in yourself and members of your party. These include nausea and/or vomiting; headache, light-­headedness, and/or fainting; weakness, fatigue, and/or incoordination; loss of concentration; and flushed skin. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include all of the above, coupled with low blood pressure, heavy sweating, and a rapid pulse. If you or a member of your party exhibits these symptoms, seek shade, lie down and elevate the feet and legs, apply wet cloth to the head and neck (and other parts of the body, if possible), and drink cool liquids. Heatstroke is life-­threatening. Hikers who lose consciousness, vomit, and have red, hot skin (moist or dry), a weak pulse, and shallow breathing are in danger of convulsions, coma, and death. Cool the victim by any means possible, as quickly as possible, and call for emergency medical aid. Hydration Hydration is important for hikers regardless of weather conditions. Hydrate before, during, and after your hike. Hydration systems in backpacks are fabulous for maintaining hydration on the trail, but good old water bottles—insulated or not—remain reliable and refillable. As for quantity, there are no hard-­and-­fast rules. Drink as much as you can. Drink even when you are not thirsty. But at a minimum, plan on consuming 32 ounces of water for every two hours on the trail. That may mean carrying a filter or purification tablets so that you can refill water bottles or bladders from streams and lakes, even on day hikes. (All backpackers should carry these.) Unless it’s an emergency, do not drink untreated or unfiltered water from any water source in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Be especially wary of hydrothermal sources, which carry unique chemical and bacterial dangers. Backcountry Basics 19

A mudpot simmers on the steep mountainside below the Sulphur Works.

Hydrothermal Areas The hydrothermal areas that dot Lassen Volcanic National Park are huge attractions and see a lot of traffic. This guide includes descriptions of trails that lead to and sometimes through areas where fumaroles (steam vents), hot springs, and mudpots exist. The park has posted warning signs about these potential hazards. Please heed these warnings for your own safety and the safety of everyone in your hiking party. The best advice: Stick to the established trails and boardwalks in hydrothermal areas. They have been placed to allow you to enjoy the unique volcanic features of Lassen while avoiding serious injury.

Heed the warning signs posted around Lassen’s scenic hydrothermal areas for your own safety.

LEAVE NO TRACE Most of us know better than to litter—in or out of the backcountry. Be sure you leave nothing, regardless how small, along the trail or at a campsite. Pack everything out, including orange peels, flip tops, cigarette butts, and gum wrappers. Pick up any trash that others leave behind. Follow the main trail. Avoid cutting switchbacks and walking on vegetation beside the trail. Don’t pick up “souvenirs,” such as rocks, antlers, or wildflowers. The next person wants to see them too, and collecting souvenirs violates park regulations. Avoid making loud noises on the trail (unless you are in bear country) or in camp. Be courteous—remember that sound travels easily in the backcountry, especially across water. Carry a lightweight trowel to bury human waste 6–8 inches deep and at least 200 feet from any water source. Pack out used toilet paper in a ziplock bag. Go without a campfire if you can’t find an established fire pit, especially in the Lassen backcountry. Carry a stove for cooking and a flashlight, candle lantern, or headlamp for light. Learn how to build a no-­trace fire, but do this only when absolutely necessary. Do not build a fire if fire danger is high. Camp in obviously used sites when they are available. Otherwise, camp and cook on durable surfaces such as bedrock, sand, gravel bars, or bare ground. Leave no trace—and put your ear to the ground and listen carefully. Thousands of people coming behind you are thanking you for your courtesy and good sense.

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Lassen Essentials Lassen Volcanic National Park is a fee area. Entrance permits may be purchased at either the Manzanita Lake or Southwest Entrance Stations. There are self-­registration stations at the other three park entrances—Butte Lake, Juniper Lake, and Warner Valley—as well as at the main entrances when not staffed. Follow posted directions to self-­register. All permits must be clearly visible in the front windshield of your vehicle. More than 79,000 of Lassen Volcanic National Park’s 106,000 acres are designated wilderness; another 13,000 acres have been proposed as an addition to the park’s wilderness and they are managed as such. Please respect these areas by not invading them with mechanized vehicles of any sort.

CONTACTS For general park information, contact Lassen Volcanic National Park, PO Box 100, Mineral, CA 96063; (530) 595-4480; nps​​.gov/lavo. The park’s website is updated regularly and easy to navigate; visit the site before you hit the ground. For publications, wilderness permits, horse permits, and other information, contact the Kohm Yah-­mah-­nee Visitor Center at (530) 595-4480. The visitor center is staffed year-­round; open daily between May 1 and October 31 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. From November 1 to April 30, the center is closed on Monday and Tuesday (hours are the same year-­round). The center is also closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. The Lassen Café and Gift Shop are located in the Kohm Yah-­mah-­nee Visitor Center, and are also open year-­round, but services and hours are The scenic Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway is limited in winter; check the park’s website or call listed on the National Reg(530) 595-3555 for information. ister of Historic Places. Permits, publications, and information are also available at the Loomis Museum and adjacent ranger station, located in the northwest portion of the park near Manzanita Lake. The museum offers historical exhibits, orientation films, and gifts, and serves as a hub for official business. It is open Friday through Sunday from Memorial Day weekend through mid-June, daily during the summer months and through September, and Friday through Sunday in October. It is closed in winter. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Manzanita Lake Camper Store, located at the entrance to the Manzanita Lake Campground, offers food, gifts, gas, and information. The store is open during the summer season only: May to mid-­June from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; mid-­June to mid-­October from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call (530) (530) 779-0307, or visit http://lassenlodging​​.com.

22

Lassen Volcanic National Park is surrounded by the Lassen National Forest and is bordered on the east by the Caribou Wilderness. The US Forest Service administers both the forest and the wilderness. The nearest forest service offices include the Hat Creek Ranger District station (43225 East CA 299/PO Box 220, Fall River Mills, CA 96028; 530-336-5521) and the Almanor Ranger District (900 East CA 36/PO Box 767, Chester, CA 96020; 530-258-2141). The national forest website is fs​​.usda​​.gov/lassen. The Lassen Association is a nonprofit educational organization that assists the National Park Service in promoting Lassen Volcanic National Park and educating its visitors. The organization publishes a variety of educational materials, which can be obtained at the Loomis Museum, the Kohm Yah-­mah-­nee Visitor Center, and other outlets, as well as through the association itself. For mail-­order purchases or to become a member, write to PO Box 220, Mineral, CA 96063; call (530) 595-4464; or visit lassen​ association​​.org. The private, nonprofit Lassen Park Foundation provides funding for educational and rehabilitation projects within the park, including youth camping programs (Volcano Adventure Camp); trail restoration; and cultivation of cultural, educational, and interpretive resources. For more information or to make a donation, write to PO Box 33, Anderson, CA 96007; call (530) 378-2600; or visit lassenparkfoundation​​.org.

ROADS The Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway (CA 89), the 29-mile scenic route through the park, offers access to hiking trails and campgrounds in the park’s western section, and is simply a beautiful drive. The road is generally clear of snow and open by mid-­June and closes by late October, but snow can fall any time of year. During

Summer on the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway: Anything is possible.

Lassen Essentials 23

winter the highway is plowed to the Kohm Yah-­ mah-­nee Visitor Center on the southwest side and to the Loomis Ranger House on the north side, and everything between is open for exploration by hikers, cross-­country skiers, and snowshoers. Snowplows are generally at work clearing the highway starting in April. Call the park at (530) 595-4480 for road information, or visit nps​​.gov/lavo. The Butte Lake Road, a graded gravel road that leads 6.3 miles from CA 44 outside Old Station to the Butte Lake Campground, is usually open by early June and closes in October. The Juniper Lake Road (Plumas CR 318) is paved for its first 5.5 miles and then becomes gravel. It is not suitable for trailers. It is usually open by mid-­June and closes in late October. The Warner Valley/Drakesbad Road (Plumas CR 312) is generally open between late May and November. It is paved for the first 14 miles and then gravel for 3 miles. It is not suitable for trailers. On average it takes two months for road crews to clear snowpack from the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway and open it to traffic. Plows begin work on the highway in April, weather permitting.

CAMPING Campgrounds within the park generally open as the winter snows melt off. Manzanita Lake is usually the first to open and Summit Lake the last. To check with park officials about whether a specific campground is open, call (530) 595-4480 or visit nps​​.gov/lavo. There are seven fee campgrounds within the park. Each campsite is outfitted with a fire ring, picnic table, and bear-­proof storage locker. Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Piped water may be turned off after the summer high season. Details of campground amenities are provided on the park website, but in a nutshell, here’s what you’ll find at each site. Manzanita Lake: 179 sites; reservations are available for some sites. Facilities include showers, flush toilets, and piped water. Easy access to nonmotorized boating, fishing, and swimming. Some sites accommodate RVs up to 40 feet long. Other amenities include a camper store, laundry facilities, pay telephones, and ranger-­led programs at the amphitheater. The Loomis Museum/visitor center is nearby. Manzanita Lake Camping Cabins can be reserved at www​​.lassenlodging​​.com. Summit Lake North and South: 94 sites; reservations available. Facilities include vault toilets (South), flush toilets (North) and piped water. Some sites in the North camp accommodate RVs up to 35 feet. Additional attractions include swimming, nonmotorized boating, a ranger station, and ranger-­led programs. Southwest Walk-­in Campground: 21 sites; first-­come, first-­served only; open year-­ round. Facilities include flush toilets (seasonal in the camp; year-­round in the visitor center) and piped water. The neighboring Kohm Yah-­mah-­nee Visitor Center, with cafe, concession services, and park information, is also open year-­round. Butte Lake: 101 sites; reservations are available but many sites are first-­come, first-­ served. Facilities include flush and vault toilets and piped water. Other attractions include swimming and nonmotorized boating. There is a ranger station.

24 Hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park

Steam rises from hydrothermal activity in Little Hot Springs Valley, which isn’t accessible by trail.

Juniper Lake: 18 sites; first-­come, first-­served. Facilities include vault toilets; no water is available. Other attractions include swimming and nonmotorized boating. Trailers are not recommended. Warner Valley: 17 sites; first-­come, first-­served with 8 sites available by reservation. Facilities include vault toilets and potable water. Other attractions include stream fishing. While small recreational vehicles can travel the gravel Warner Valley access road, trailers are not recommended. There is a ranger station. Phones are available at nearby Drakesbad Guest Ranch. Group camps are available by reservation at Butte Lake, Juniper Lake (tent camping only), and Lost Creek.

MISCELLANEOUS REGULATIONS • No fires are permitted in Lassen’s backcountry year-­round. • Bicycles are permitted on park highways and in campgrounds, but are prohibited on trails. Skating, skateboarding, and in-­line skating are prohibited. • Pets are not permitted on trails, in the backcountry, or in any body of water within the park. If they are kept on leash, pets are allowed in campgrounds and picnic areas, on established roadways, and in other developed areas. Clean up after your pet, and take responsibility for its behavior. • Fishing is permitted in most lakes and streams within the park, but the most popular site, identified as a blue-­r ibbon fishery, is Manzanita Lake. Catch-­and-­ release fishing only is permitted on Manzanita Lake; artificial lures and single, barbless hooks may be used. Other popular catch-­and-­release sites are Butte Lake,

Lassen Essentials 25

Snag Lake, and Horseshoe Lake, as well as Kings Creek and Grassy Swale Creek. You must have a valid California fishing license. • Horses are allowed in the park by permit only. No overnight camping is allowed in the backcountry. Permits may be obtained through the park offices. Corrals are available by reservation at Summit, Butte, and Juniper Lakes. • Firearms may not be discharged within the park, and are not permitted in park buildings, campgrounds, and rest stations. If you have a valid California license, you may carry a loaded, concealed firearm. Openly carrying a loaded firearm outside your campsite, which is considered a temporary place of residence, is prohibited.

BACKCOUNTRY PERMITS AND REGULATIONS Backcountry permits are required for overnight camping in Lassen’s backcountry. You may obtain a permit by mail in advance by calling the park at (530) 595-4480. Allow at least two weeks for the permit to be processed and sent out.You can also register via e-­mail by filling out an application online and sending to [email protected]​​.gov with the subject line “Backcountry Permit Application.” Permits are free. Permits may also be obtained in person from the Loomis Museum at Manzanita Lake, at the park headquarters in Mineral, and at the Kohm Yah-­mah-­nee Visitor Center at the Southwest Entrance, as well as through self-­registration at the Butte Lake Ranger Station, the Warner Valley Ranger Station, and the Juniper Lake Ranger Station. Important backcountry regulations include: • A maximum of ten people are allowed per permit. Groups larger than ten must travel and camp apart, maintaining a separation of at least a half-­mile. • Fires are prohibited. Use a portable camp stove for cooking. • You must carry a bear canister or vault, available for rent from rangers at the Loomis Museum at Manzanita Lake and at the Kohm Yah-­mah-­nee Visitor Center at the Southwest Entrance. • Purify water from lakes and streams before drinking by boiling, filtering, or chemically treating it. • Do not wash clothing or utensils, or use any cleansing agents, in lakes or streams. • Camp at least 300 feet from other backcountry groups. • Do not camp in meadows or on fragile vegetation. • Camp at least 100 feet from the lakes, springs, and streams. • Camp at least a half-­mile from campgrounds, park highways, and other developed areas. • Some of the park’s most popular areas, like Echo Lake, Kings Creek Falls, Crumbaugh Lake, Cinder Cone, Mount Harkness, and others, are closed to backcountry camping; campers must maintain a distance of at least a quarter-­mile from these features. A list of restricted areas and backcountry camping regulations is available online at www​​.nps​​.gov/lavo/planyourvisit/wilderness-­permit-­ information​​.htm.

26 Hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park Trail Finder (listed from easiest to hardest) Best Volcano Climbs 34 Cinder Cone 37 Mount Harkness   6 Lassen Peak   1 Brokeoff Mountain Best Hikes to Hydrothermal Areas 10 Cold Boiling Lake 48 Boiling Springs Lake   5 Bumpass Hell 47 Devils Kitchen 49 Terminal Geyser

A long alpine traverse leads to the summit of Brokeoff Mountain.

Best Hikes into Lassen History 25 Devastated Area Interpretive Trail 31 Nobles Emigrant Trail—Sunflower Flat to Summertown   5 Bumpass Hell 24 Nobles Emigrant Trail at Hat Creek Best Hikes to Unusual Volcanic Features 28 Chaos Crags and Crags Lake 34 Cinder Cone Nature Trail 35 Lava Beds Beachhead 49 Terminal Geyser   6 Lassen Peak   1 Brokeoff Mountain Best Interpretive Hikes 25 Devastated Area Interpretive Trail 27 Lily Pond Nature Trail 34 Cinder Cone Best Hikes with Kids 25 Devastated Area Interpretive Trail 27 Lily Pond Nature Trail 32 Bathtub Lake

27

10 29 34 48   5

Cold Boiling Lake Manzanita Lake Trail Cinder Cone Boiling Springs Lake Bumpass Hell

Best Easy Lakes 32 Bathtub Lake 18 Summit Lake 29 Manzanita Lake Trail 10 Cold Boiling Lake   7 Terrace and Shadow Lakes 39 Crystal Lake 48 Boiling Springs Lake   8 Cliff Lake   4 Ridge Lakes

Lakes and streams offer hikers the chance to cool their heels after a day on the trail.

Best Meadows 22 Paradise Meadow 30 Manzanita Creek Trail   3 Conard Meadows 42 Cameron Meadow and Grassy Creek Loop Best Backcountry Lakes 13 Sifford Lake 19 Echo Lake 43 Horseshoe Lake 20 Upper and Lower Twin Lakes 41 Jakey Lake 46 Drake Lake 36 Butte and Snag Lakes Best Waterfalls 14 Kings Creek Falls and the Cascades   2 Mill Creek Falls 22 Paradise Meadow cataracts Best Long Loops 44 Horseshoe and Indian Lakes Loop 42 Cameron Meadow and Grassy Creek Loop 15 Kings Creek Falls, Bench Lake, and Sifford Lake Loop 36 Butte and Snag Lakes Loop Honorable Mention: Cluster Lakes Loop

28 Hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park

Best Views 40 Inspiration Point 28 Chaos Crags and Crags Lake 37 Mount Harkness 33 East Prospect Peak   6 Lassen Peak   1 Brokeoff Mountain Best Hikes on the Wild Side 24 Nobles Emigrant Trail at Hat Creek 30 Manzanita Creek Trail 50 Little Willow Lake   3 Conard Meadows 21 Little Bear and Big Bear Lakes 46 Drake Lake 15 Kings Creek Falls, Bench Lake, and Sifford Lake Loop 42 Cameron Meadow and Grassy Creek Loop 37 Mount Harkness 36 Butte and Snag Lakes Loop

A boardwalk once laced through the fumaroles and mudpots of Sulphur Works, but the caustic environment took its toll. Now the area is a roadside attraction.

Lassen Volcanic National Park Trail Finder 29

Author Picks: 14 Hikes in 14 Days Let’s face it:Very few visitors to Lassen Volcanic National Park have the time or the inclination to explore every mile. Two things remain true about hiking in Lassen (or in any national park for that matter): (1) time is limited, and (2) stamina must be built. A third important component also applies to any national park vacation: There’s more to experience than just hiking trails. Camping, fishing, swimming, snoozing . . . all are perfectly wonderful things to do in Lassen. With these parameters in mind, I’ve compiled a sample itinerary for the Lassen hiker with two weeks in the park. The hikes have been ordered to allow for acclimation to altitude and stamina building, peaking with the ascent of Brokeoff Mountain and easing off from there. They are scattered around the park, so you’ll get to know its ecological neighborhoods. And most won’t take all day. Day 1: Orient Yourself. Devastated Area Interpretive Trail; Lily Pond Nature Trail Day 2: The Lakes. Manzanita and Summit Lake Loops Day 3: Hydrothermal Heights. Bumpass Hell and Cold Boiling Lake Day 4: Meadowlands. Paradise Meadow and Terrace Lake Day 5: Volcano Climb 1. Lassen Peak Trail Day 6: Backcountry Lake Tour. Echo Lake and the Twin Lakes Day 7: Volcano Climb 2. Brokeoff Mountain Day 8: Footsteps of the Pioneers. Nobles Emigrant Trail at Hat Creek or Nobles Emigrant Trail from Sunflower Flat to Summertown Day 9: The Falls. Kings Creek Falls or Mill Creek Falls Day 10: Backcountry Ramble. Cameron Meadow and Grassy Creek Loop Day 11:Volcano Climb 3. Mount Harkness Day 12: Backcountry Hot Spot. Devils Kitchen Day 13: Last Hydrothermal Blast. Boiling Springs Lake and Terminal Geyser Day 14:Volcano Climb 4. Cinder Cone If you’ve only got a week, these are the must-­dos, easiest to hardest. Day 1: Bumpass Hell Day 2: Kings Creek Falls Day 3: Devils Kitchen Day 4: Boiling Springs Lake and Terminal Geyser Day 5: Cinder Cone Day 6: Lassen Peak Day 7: Brokeoff Mountain

30

MAP LEGEND

Municipal

Symbols

160

US Highway

Boardwalk

105

State Road

Boat Launch

Local/County Road

Bridge

Unpaved/Forest Road

Campground

Gravel Road

Elevation

FR 318

Forest Boundary

1

Featured Trailhead Gate

Trails

Information Station

Featured Trail

Point of Interest/Trailhead

Trail

Pass

Cross-Country Trail

Parking Peak/Elevation

Water Features

Picnic Area

Body of Water

Ranger Station

Marsh

Restroom

River/Creek

Scenic View

Intermittent Stream

Tower

Waterfall

Town

Spring

Trail Arrows Visitor Center

Land Features Cliffs Hydrothermal Area Lava Bed Snowfield

Southwest Entrance Lassen Volcanic National Park is a kaleidoscope of wilderness. It is volcanic and glacial, barren and densely forested, peaceful and frightening.What you see in any part of the park reflects the natural forces that shaped the area, and those forces vary from place to place. In the southwest corner of the park, the dominant force is prehistoric and volcanic. Mount Tehama (aka Brokeoff Volcano), a long-­defunct composite volcano in the tradition of Mount Shasta, is the foundation upon which panoramas throughout this portion of the park are built. Mount Tehama, which topped out at more than 11,000 feet, formed between 600,000 and 400,000 years ago and was gradually whittled away by an earthmover as powerful as volcanism—water, in the form of glaciers and creeks. Today the former Mount Tehama displays its legacy in ragged peaks that arc in a half-­moon: Brokeoff Mountain, Mount Diller, Pilot Pinnacle, and Mount Conard. The fires that raised the ancestral volcano still hiss from fumaroles and bubble in mudpots at the Sulphur Works, and its minerals stain the bed of Sulphur Creek. Its presence is felt on each of the hikes described in this chapter, from the craggy summit of Brokeoff Mountain to the highway-­side displays at the Sulphur Works, which describe the ancient volcano’s rise and fall. The Southwest Entrance is easily reached via CA 36, which runs between Red Bluff and Chester and passes through Mineral, where the park’s headquarters are located. To reach the entrance, turn north off CA 36 onto CA 89, the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway, which leads 4 miles to the entrance station. Amenities near the Southwest Entrance include the Southwest Walk-­in Campground and the Kohm Yah-­mah-­nee Visitor Center, which houses park information, exhibits, a gift shop, and a cafe. The morning sun kisses the slopes near the Southwest Entrance.

32

1 BROKEOFF MOUNTAIN WHY GO?

From the summit of Brokeoff Mountain, views stretch in every direction: north to Lassen Peak, east and south to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and Lake Almanor, and west across the upper Sacramento Valley. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 7.4 miles Hiking time: 5–6 hours Difficulty: Strenuous Best season: Midsummer to late fall, depending on snowfall Maps: USGS Lassen Peak CA Trailhead amenities: There is parking at the trailhead. Restrooms, water, and other amenities, including a cafe, are located 0.5 mile farther north on the Lassen Volcanic National Park

Highway at the Southwest Walk-­in Campground and the Kohm Yah-­ mah-­nee Visitor Center. Special considerations: You gain a lot of altitude on this hike, reaching a summit of 9,235 feet. Watch for symptoms of altitude sickness, and descend should any materialize. The summit and parts of the approach also feature some thrilling exposure, so watch your step.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD The trailhead is located 0.5 mile south of the Southwest Entrance Station and Southwest Walk-­in Campground, about 3.5 miles north of the intersection of CA 89 and CA 36. GPS: N40 25.860' / W121 32.156'

THE HIKE

Brokeoff Mountain is arguably the best mountain climb in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Yes, Lassen Peak is higher, and, yes, the summit of Lassen Peak is dramatic, with staggering views and an evocative crater. But Brokeoff Mountain features sublime hiking through varied terrain; an exposed, if short, traverse on a summit ridge; and an unparalleled view of Lassen Peak framed in a rocky window. Plus, Over the past decade or so, even in the height of summer, when the trail the park has made significant improvements to its flagship up Lassen is a human highway, you may find trails, including the Lassen Peak yourself alone on Brokeoff ’s summit. Just you, Trail and the trail into Bumpass the wind, the views, and the wonder. Hell. The trail to the summit The trail departs from the west side of the of Brokeoff Mountain is next on the list, with improvements park highway opposite the trailhead parking planned to begin in 2020. area. The climb begins immediately but mellows briefly within the first 0.25 mile as you cross several small streams that fall from Forest Lake toward Mill Creek in the valley below. As you ascend, glimpses of spectacular summits appear: Lassen Peak, Mount Diller, Pilot Pinnacle and the top of Brokeoff itself. The trail passes through alternating evergreen groves and small meadows as it climbs alongside the Forest Lake outlet stream. The thick red fir forest provides welcome shade, 33

Views from the summit of Brokeoff Mountain include Lassen Peak.

and small open areas are alluring, thick with wildflowers and buzzing with insects. The trail steepens as it climbs over a bench and into a shallow basin. A small pond lies to the left (west) of the trail; beyond, the trail crosses to the west side of the stream over two small log footbridges. The path traverses above the meadow-­lined stream, then arcs to the south and switches back as it climbs onto a sunny knoll at 1.5 miles. Forest Lake is tucked in the trees to the right (northeast) of the knoll, almost the same deep green as the forest that embraces it. A brief cross-­country trek along the lake’s outlet stream leads directly to its shores. Above the lake, the terrain changes. There is still a stream running near the trail—for a little while, at least—but the trees become sparser and fade from red fir to whitebark pine as you ascend into a dry, open basin. The barren east face of Brokeoff Mountain serves as the basin’s headwall. The trail crosses from the south to the north side of the basin, skirts the wall, then crosses back to the south and climbs switchbacks onto the wooded southern shoulder of the mountain. 34 Southwest Entrance

From this high point you can look back and marvel at how far you’ve come. The trail bends west through a shimmering bowl of silverleaf lupine; from here you can see how far you’ve got to go. Above the bowl, swing through a talus field and onto an exposed ridge, where winter weather has bent and gnarled the few trees that cling to the rocky soil. The narrowing ridge leads to a traverse of the rocky, south-­facing slope of the mountain at 2.5 miles. The incline is relatively gentle, but given the altitude it is less than easy. The trees get thinner and the views more impressive as you ascend westward, then round a switchback and climb toward the east. A few hardy trees and wildflowers find purchase here; crickets abound in late summer, scattering from footfalls into the crevices in the talus. The trail eventually attains the summit ridge. It’s here you realize something unnerving: While the talus slope sweeps away to the south, the mountain falls off precipitously to the north. Just 100 yards up and over, you could drop into the void. The depth of that void is revealed at a break in the ridge, the window that frames Lassen Peak to the north. Look down through Brokeoff ’s broken rock into Brokeoff Meadows; the distant lake more than 1,000 feet below looks like a small sapphire. The in-­between peaks, Diller and Pilot, appear distant and low, unimpressive from this vantage. The trail continues up the summit ridge to the flat top of the mountain at 3.7 miles. From the top on a clear day the vistas are unbeatable, reaching northwest to the snowy summit of Mount Shasta and southwest across low, forested summits into the upper Sacramento Valley. Back to the east you can look down into the maw of ancient Mount Tehama, then up and away to the Sierra Nevada. Check the cluster of rocks on the west side of the summit plateau for a US Geological Survey earthquake marker. When you are ready to begin the long descent, return the way you came.

Looking west across the summit of Brokeoff Mountain over the northern Sacramento Valley.

HIKE 1 Brokeoff Mountain 35

0

BROKEOFF MOUNTAIN

0

Kilometer

0.5 0.5

Mile

Sulphur Works

89

ark nal P L assen N atio

Brokeoff Mountain 9,235 ft.

8,375 ft.

Highway

Forest Lake

To Lassen Peak & Manzanita Lake Entrance

Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center Southwest Walk-in Campground Southwest Entrance Station

1

89

To Mineral

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the signed Brokeoff Mountain Trailhead. 1.5 Pass Forest Lake. 2.5 Traverse the rocky upper face of the mountain. 3.7 Reach the summit. Retrace your steps. 7.4 Arrive back at the trailhead.

36 Southwest Entrance

2 MILL CREEK FALLS WHY GO?

A shaded overlook offers great views of the sharp spill of Mill Creek Falls. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 3.8 miles Hiking time: 2–3 hours Difficulty: Moderate Best season: Late spring through mid-­fall Maps: USGS Lassen Peak CA Special considerations: Walk with care at the cascade overlooks and on

the footbridges; a misstep could lead to a devastating fall. Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, and water at the Southwest Walk-­in Campground; restrooms, information, food, and other amenities in the Kohm Yah-­ mah-­nee Visitor Center

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From CA 89 at the Southwest Entrance, turn into the parking area for the Southwest Walk-­in Campground and Kohm Yah-­mah-­nee Visitor Center. The signed trailhead is on the east side of the parking lot near the visitor center’s amphitheater. GPS: N40 26.231' / W121 31.974'

THE HIKE

Mill Creek Falls is a vigorous whitewater spill of nearly 100 feet at the confluence of East Sulphur and Bumpass Creeks. Spray from the falls darkens the cream-­ and-­ gold-­ colored cliff over which it cascades, and the narrow gorge of East Sulphur Creek resonates with its splendid roar. The falls can be enjoyed from a shady overlook on the Mill Creek Falls Trail or from a perch on one of the footbridges at the very brink, where the creeks gather into a frothy fury before taking the plunge. The trail begins by dropping down stairs behind the Kohm Yah-­ mah-­ nee Visitor Center and the Southwest Walkin Campground, then switchbacking ­ down through big pines and firs to West Footbridges span the confluence of East Sulphur Creek, which meets East Sul- Sulphur Creek and Bumpass Creek before the phur Creek downstream to form Mill streams take the plunge down Mill Creek Falls. Creek. At 0.3 mile cross the stream on a bridge. Climb up onto the hillside on the north side of the creek, and traverse southward through the knee-­high mountain mule’s ear that flourishes on the sunny slope. 37

The best view of Mill Creek Falls is from the overlook on the opposite wall of the gorge.

The trail dips into a dense fir forest as it bends east, then northeast into the East Sulphur Creek drainage at 0.5 mile. Like a ride on a roller coaster, the route drops into and out of gullies as it follows the contours of the ravine, but the trend is generally upward. A gentle roar accompanies you up the canyon, but it can be hard to discern whether what you hear is the falls, the creek, or the wind in the trees. Regardless, it’s a sweet, wild sound. Rock-­hop a side stream at the 1-mile mark, then begin a rather stiff climb, followed by a short, rather steep descent, to the overlook of Mill Creek Falls, which is at 1.75 miles. From this shady viewpoint you can enjoy the waterfall as it rockets into the shadowy creekbed below; the rock on either side of the cascade is streaked orange with mineral deposits and green with moss. Continue down the trail (stay right at the spur that leads left to the creekside at a switchback) to the twin footbridges that span the creeks feeding the falls. From the top of the waterfall, you can look down into the void and feel the rush.

38 Southwest Entrance

0

MILL CREEK FALLS

0

Sulfur Works

Sp

a ss

Cr

y gs V a l l e

ee k

rin

Bu m

ee k

Mill Creek Falls

p

Conard Meadows

To Kings Creek Picnic Area

Conard Lake

ek

2

re

Southwest Walk-in Campground

Ea

Southwest Entrance Station

1

7,400 ft.

Cr

Park High w ay

r t S u lphu We s

L a ssen Nationa l

89

Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center

Mile

1

Little H o t

To Lassen Peak

Kilometer

Su st

lph

ur

C

Mil

89

re lC

Mount Conard 8,204 ft.

ek

To Mineral

There are a few safe places to step off the bridges and settle on a rocky perch to enjoy a picnic before you return as you came. Or, if you are in the mood for a stiff climb, you can continue from the falls to Conard Meadows.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the signed Mill Creek Falls Trailhead. 0.3 Cross West Sulphur Creek. 0.5 Enter the East Sulphur Creek drainage. 1.0 Rock-­hop a side stream. 1.75 Arrive at the Mill Creek Falls overlook. 1.9 Descend to the footbridges that span the top of the spill. Retrace your steps from

here. 3.8 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Option: The trail continues on the other side of the bridges, climbing steeply to Conard Meadows and from there up to Crumbaugh Lake, Cold Boiling Lake, and eventually the Kings Creek Picnic Area trailhead.

HIKE 2 Mill Creek Falls 39

3 CONARD MEADOWS WHY GO?

Quiet, colorful Conard Meadows is a secluded destination prefaced by raucous Mill Creek Falls. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 5.4 miles Hiking time: 3–4 hours Difficulty: Strenuous Best season: Midsummer through fall Maps: USGS Lassen Peak CA and Reading Peak CA

Special considerations: Take care around Mill Creek Falls; a misstep could result in a nasty fall. Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, and water at the Southwest Walk-­in Campground; restrooms, information, food, and other amenities in the Kohm Yah-­ mah-­nee Visitor Center

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From CA 89 at the Southwest Entrance, turn into the parking area for the Southwest Walk-­in Campground and Kohm Yah-­mah-­nee Visitor Center. The signed trailhead is on the east side of the parking lot near the visitor center’s amphitheater. GPS: N40 26.231' / W121 31.974'

THE HIKE

When bathed in sharp sunlight, the lush grasses and wildflowers of Conard Meadows glow like an incandescent bulb through a green glass shade and spread in sharp contrast to the darker greens of the surrounding forest and the deep blue of the alpine sky. The meadows’ overseer, 8,204-foot Mount Conard, guards the southeastern border. Both meadows and mountain are named for Arthur Conard, a Red Bluff resident who was instrumental in the movement that led to Lassen’s preservation as a national park. The meadowlands can be reached from either the Mill Creek Falls Trailhead or the Kings Creek Picnic Area, but the trail described here starts at Mill Creek, with a stiff climb sandwiched between the lovely falls and the sweet respite of the meadows. The climb is thigh-­burning steep, but the descent on the return trip is swift. There are fleeting views of Brokeoff Mountain and surrounding peaks on the downhill, and the terrain is pleasantly wild. Begin at the Southwest Walk-­in Campground, dropping through the firs to the bridge over West Sulphur Creek at 0.2 mile. The trail then climbs onto the sunny hillside on the north side of the creek, traversing southward through fields of mountain mule’s ear and then northeast into the East Sulphur Creek drainage. Follow the trail up the drainage, crossing a streamlet at the 1-mile mark and finishing with a short stiff climb and a brief descent to the Mill Creek Falls overlook at 1.75 miles. From the overlook the trail heads to the bank of East Sulphur Creek and then bends right to the plank footbridges that span the top of the falls. The first footbridge allows safe passage across East Sulphur Creek, the second across Bumpass Creek. On the far side of the Bumpass Creek drainage, the trail launches up the slope toward Conard Meadows.

40

A verdant meadow sprawls in the forest below Mount Conard.

Yellow trail markers on the trees mark the right path as you climb switchbacks into the woods. The climb traces the edge of the deep defile carved by Bumpass Creek, and the pitch doesn’t ease up until you reach more open forest carpeted with pinemat manzanita. Finally, at 2.7 miles, the trail emerges from the trees at verdant Conard Meadows. The path drops over burbling Bumpass Creek as it flows out of the northwest corner of the meadows, then leads along its north side, where views across the open expanse are best. A rustic sign noting the meadows’ altitude—7,200 feet—confirms your location. Conard Lake lies hidden in the grasses at the head of the meadows but is not visible from the trail. The seasonal wildflower display is noteworthy; a field guide and camera will help you preserve memories worth savoring. Once you’ve rested up, return as you came.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the signed Mill Creek Falls Trailhead. 0.3 Cross West Sulphur Creek. 0.5 Enter the East Sulphur Creek drainage. 1.0 Rock-­hop across a side stream. 1.75 Arrive at the Mill Creek Falls overlook.

HIKE 3 Conard Meadows  41

0

CONARD MEADOWS

0

Sulfur Works

Sp

Cr a ss

y gs V a l l e

ee k

rin

k

Mill Creek Falls

Bu m

p

Conard Meadows

To Kings Creek Picnic Area

Conard Lake

ek

3

Ea

re

Southwest Walk-in Campground

Mil

89

7,400 ft.

ee

Southwest Entrance Station

1

Mile

Cr

Park High w ay

r t S u lphu We s

L a ssen Nationa l

89

Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center

1

Little H o t

To Lassen Peak

Kilometer

Su st

lph

ur

C

re lC

Mount Conard 8,204 ft.

ek

To Mineral

1.9 Cross the footbridges that span the top of the falls. Begin the long, steep climb. 2.7 Reach Conard Meadows. Savor the wildflowers, and then retrace your steps. 5.4 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Option: You can continue climbing from Conard Meadows to Crumbaugh Lake, Cold Boiling Lake, and the Kings Creek Picnic Area trailhead for a nice shuttle hike of about 4 miles or a relatively strenuous out-­and-­back hike of a bit more than 9 miles. From Conard Meadows the trail immerses itself in forest; it’s still climbing, but the pitch is much less arduous than the one above Mill Creek Falls. At about 3.25 miles, emerge from the woods at Crumbaugh Lake. Trace the shoreline of the lake to a signed trail junction. The right-­hand path leads down a boggy lakeside path; the left continues up to Cold Boiling Lake. More climbing leads to the Cold Boiling Lake basin; the trail skirts a pair of vernal pools before arriving at the main attraction at 3.9 miles. From the trail sign on the shoreline of Cold Boiling Lake, the trail crosses relatively flat terrain before ending at the Kings Creek Picnic Area at 4.6 miles.

42 Southwest Entrance

4 RIDGE LAKES WHY GO?

These small alpine tarns are cupped in a basin below Brokeoff Mountain and Mount Diller. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 2.0 miles Hiking time: 1–2 hours Difficulty: Strenuous Best season: Midsummer through late fall Maps: USGS Lassen Peak CA

Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, information signboards about the Sulphur Works. Restrooms, water, and food are available at the Southwest Walk-­in Campground and Kohm Yah-­mah-­nee Visitor Center, located 1 mile south on the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the Southwest Entrance head north on the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for 1 mile to the well-­marked trailhead parking area, which is on the left (west) side of the highway at the Sulphur Works. From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, you’ll have to drive nearly the entire length of the park ­highway—­28 miles—to the parking lot and trailhead. GPS: N40 26.919' / W121 32.147'

The eroded rim of Brokeoff Volcano forms the backdrop for the two Ridge Lakes.

43

THE HIKE

Want that alpine high with minimal effort? A hike to Ridge Lakes might be the ticket. But don’t misunderstand: Minimal effort doesn’t mean you won’t have to work to reach these airy heights. While this route hardly compares to an ascent of any of the surrounding mountains, you will climb nearly 1,000 feet in 1 mile to reach the lakes. The trail is clear and easy to follow, traveling up a steep wooded ridge to a ravine, then up the ravine to the lake basin. Once there, you can rest on the first lake’s rocky shores, enjoying views of the steep, rosy slopes that spill down from Brokeoff Mountain to the south and Mount Diller to the north. The signed trail to Ridge Lakes begins on the north side of the Sulphur Works/Ridge Lakes parking area. Head up through the fragrant ferns and grasses onto a narrow ridge that overlooks the Sulphur Works. Here a different fragrance—that of rotten eggs—permeates the air. At the 0.3 mile-­mark, you can step off the trail to the right and look down into the gully that cradles sulfurous hot spots and the creek that runs through them. After about 0.5 mile the trail leaves the Sulphur Creek drainage behind, curving to the west and following another drainage. The path then arcs back toward Sulphur Creek, always climbing, offering occasional glimpses of Mount Diller through the trees. The trail swings back and forth along the hummock that separates the creek drainages before finally settling into the northernmost drainage. Here an upward traverse leads across slopes that in summer are thick with lupine, clover, aster, and other wildflowers. Switchbacks ameliorate the climb at about the 0.7-mile mark. These are followed by another uphill traverse across more open slopes, with shade provided by small stands of evergreens. The trail grows rockier as it ascends. A steep pitch crests a bench; then a final pitch lands you into the Ridge Lakes basin at the 1-mile mark. Kilometer

0

RIDGE LAKES

0

0.5 0.5

Mile

Ridge Lakes reek rC S est u l p h u W

Mudpots Fumaroles

Sulphur Works

4

Lassen National Park Highway

89

To Southwest Entrance Station

44 Southwest Entrance

To Lassen Peak and Manzanita Lake Entrance

RIP: SULPHUR WORKS INTERPRETIVE TRAIL An interpretive trail and boardwalk once wound through the Sulphur Works, but the park eventually abandoned the route because it was repeatedly undermined by heavy winter snows and corrosive hydrothermal activity. In its stead, paved sidewalks alongside the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway offer glimpses into this active and evolving hydrothermal area, fed by the same deep magma source that also fires the fumaroles and mudpots at Bumpass Hell and Devils Kitchen. The Sulphur Works once occupied the guts of the park’s ancestral volcano, Mount Tehama (aka Brokeoff Volcano). Eroded by glaciers, water, and time, the remnants of this composite volcano, which likely topped out at more than 11,000 feet, now define the skyline of the southern reaches of Lassen Volcanic National Park, including Brokeoff Mountain, Mount Diller, and Pilot Pinnacle. For a couple of decades in the middle of the nineteenth century, members of the Supan family of Red Bluff mined the Sulphur Works. Dr. Mathias Supan transformed the yellow ore into bricks and stoneware and, according to park literature, “using ferrous salts that formed a crust at the edge of the hot springs, he produced dyes and printers’ ink,” which he was able to market in San Francisco. The mine ceased operation after Supan and his wife divorced, and she eventually ran cattle on a homestead she established near the former mine. While boardwalks no longer offer a bird’s-­eye Though the trail at Sulphur Works is gone, a walk view of some of the hydroalong the sidewalk at the site permits visitors to look thermal area’s volatile into the large simmering mudpot. features, the sidewalks alongside the park highway offer safe vantage points from which to observe a particularly vigorous mudpot, as well as steaming fumaroles. On the south side of the highway, you can look down into the steep Sulphur Creek drainage. To stroll through the Sulphur Works, take the park highway north for 1 mile from the Southwest Entrance to the large parking lot that also serves the Ridge Lakes Trailhead. There are restrooms at the trailhead; the Kohm Yah-­ mah-­nee Visitor Center also has restrooms and other amenities. To reach the Sulphur Works from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, you must drive nearly the entire length of the park highway—28 miles—to the parking lot and trailhead.

HIKE 4 Ridge Lakes 45

Both lakes are cupped in a stark high-­country bowl. The bigger lake lies at trail’s end; you’ll have to hike westward, cross-­country over the rocky terrain, to reach the second, smaller lake. A smattering of mountain hemlock crowns the steep slope guarding the southern shore of the bigger lake. To the north, Mount Diller stretches along a bony ridge toward the Pilot Pinnacle; to the south, a rounded, rocky slope leads up toward the summit of Brokeoff Mountain. Cross-­country ascents of both Diller and Pilot are possible from the lake basin. If the weather is warm enough—and you are brave enough—you can dip into either of the lakes for a swim. Then again, you may decide that simply resting on the shore, enjoying the beauty of the high ground, is reward enough.When you are ready, return to the trailhead on the same route.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the signed Ridge Lakes Trailhead near the Sulphur Works. 0.5 Leave the West Sulphur Creek drainage behind. 1.0 Reach the first of the Ridge Lakes. Explore, swim, or rest on the shoreline before

returning as you came. 2.0 Arrive back at the trailhead.

46 Southwest Entrance

Lake Helen The landscape around iconic Lake Helen is stark, informed by snow that sometimes completely melts, and draped with trees hunched over against the extremes. The four colors that dominate the landscape—blue, green, white, and pink—fade into different shades but always stand in contrast to one another so that each cloud, tree, snowbank, and rock outcrop pops like it’s been outlined in black. The pretty alpine tarn, wedged between the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway and the base of Lassen Peak’s south face, brims with icy meltwater, a patch of sapphire cradled in the mountain’s rosy arms. Named for Helen Brodt, the first woman known to have reached the volcano’s summit, the lake gathers visitors to its shores like a lovely lady

The still waters of Lake Helen reflect the south face of Lassen Peak.

47

attracts suitors—by the droves. Its charming sister, Emerald Lake, lies less than 0.5 mile to the west, also just off the park highway. Take a seat on its shoreline and listen: The rare Cascades frogs will start singing if the season and the mood are right, sometimes so loudly they drown out the wind. While only two formal hikes depart from trailheads near Lake Helen, their importance warrants special consideration. The first is the trek up Lassen Peak itself, the ultimate hike within the park. The second leads to Bumpass Hell, a pocket of hydrothermal activity in the shadow of the volcano that perfectly showcases the forces that have shaped the terrain. These are the two most popular hikes within the park. I’ve included a couple of other hikes in this chapter that, while not immediately adjacent to Lake Helen, begin at a trailhead high enough on the mountain to impart an alpine feel. Terrace and Shadow Lakes lie just below Lassen Peak’s east face; Cliff Lake lies in a rocky Helen Tanner Brodt, basin beneath the north face of Reading Peak. namesake for Lake Helen, There are picnic facilities at Lake Helen and restmade the first recorded rooms at the Bumpass Hell and the Lassen Peak ascent of Lassen Peak by a woman in 1864. Trailheads. Both trailheads have large parking areas, but these fill quickly on summer weekends. If the parking areas are full, you can park in safe locations along the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway. A much smaller roadside pullout is available at the Terrace Lake Trailhead; there are no restrooms at this locale. To reach the Lake Helen area from the Southwest Entrance, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for about 6 miles. The lake is on the left (north) side of the highway. Bumpass Hell’s parking lot is on the right (south) at 5.8 miles, and the Lassen Peak Trailhead is about 1 mile higher (north) on the park highway, on the left (north) side. Terrace Lake is beyond the highway’s apex (at just over 8,500 feet), about 9 miles from the Southwest Entrance. From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for about 22 miles to the Lake Helen area. The Terrace Lake Trailhead is at the 19-mile mark, the Lassen Peak Trailhead at 21 miles, and Bumpass Hell at about 22.2 miles.

48 Lake Helen

5 BUMPASS HELL WHY GO?

This fabulous trail leads to a large, colorful hydrothermal area that is arguably the most spectacular—and easily the most visited—in the park. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 3.0 miles Hiking time: 1–2 hours Difficulty: Easy Best season: Summer Maps: USGS Lassen Peak CA and Reading Peak CA Special considerations: Bumpass Hell is an active hydrothermal area. Heed signs advising that you stay on the boardwalk or trail. Straying could result in serious injury.

Trailhead amenities: The large trailhead parking area high on the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway may fill up on busy summer days. If no parking is available, choose a safe spot along the park highway and walk to the signed trailhead. Restrooms, interpretive signs, and picnic sites are also available.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the park’s Southwest Entrance, travel up the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway (CA 89) for about 5.8 miles to the large paved parking area on the right (south). From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for just more than 22 miles to the parking area. GPS: N40 27.966' / W121 30.846'

THE HIKE

Bumpass Hell’s evocative name suits it perfectly; this hydrothermal area combines the whimsical and the ominous. The show is famously entertaining, with fantastically colored superheated water swirling in large pools, mudpots belching and thumping, and columns of hot steam curling in the mountain breezes. Lest you forget how volatile the area is, the wickedly rotten scent of volcanic gases will bring you back to earth, as will the omnipresent warning signs. Heed the signs well, lest you suffer the fate of the area’s namesake, Kendall Vanhook Bumpass. He learned about the dangers of hydrothermal areas the hard way, seriously burning his leg after accidently breaking through the thin crust into a boiling pool. Be careful, and closely supervise your children. This trail is one of the most popular in the park, and it can be crowded on summer weekends. To better accommodate two-­way traffic, the path and its overlooks were overhauled beginning in 2017, as snow permitted, reopening in late 2019. This work will include rehabilitation of a historic trail, but that option was still in the works at the end of the 2019 hiking season. The trail begins in the northeast corner of the parking area, dropping gently past a trail sign, then flattening as it traverses above the East Sulphur Creek drainage. Lassen Peak rises to the north; looking southwest across the Little Hot Springs Valley, you’ll enjoy

49

Looking down from the western approach into Bumpass Hell.

great views of the remnants of Mount Tehama, including Brokeoff Mountain, Mount Diller, and Pilot Pinnacle. A gentle upward traverse leads through a talus field to a trail fork shaded by mountain hemlocks at 0.7 mile. Take the right (west) trail 50 yards to the overlook and an interpretive sign that describes the rise and fall of Mount Tehama, also called Brokeoff Volcano. The views are impressive. Once you’ve taken it all in, climb a short flight of rock steps to return to the main trail and turn right (southeast) to continue. A brief, gentle climb ends in a colonnade of evergreens. Wind around a switchback to your first glimpse of the milky gray and turquoise pools of Bumpass Hell. A second overlook is at the 1-mile mark, about midway between the start of the descent and the hydrothermal area. From here, once all rehabilitation is complete, two trails will descend into the basin, one following a historic route that park officials expect will melt off sooner than the existing route (expected to open in 2020). The main trail descends fairly quickly from the overlook. Cross the bridge at the base at 1.3 miles and you will have arrived. Stay right to access the boardwalk and to continue to Cold Boiling Lake; the left-­hand trail circles up to another overlook, with improvements including interpretive signs and benches to be installed in 2020. The boardwalk constructed in 2018 includes an overlook of the Pyrite Pool. It’s expected the building materials—recycled plastic planks and piers reinforced with fiberglass rods—will withstand the punishing effects of both heavy snowloads and the acidic gases generated by hydrothermal activity.

50 Lake Helen

Hikers wander along the boardwalk among the fumaroles and mudpots in Bumpass Hell.

The single boardwalk, new as of 2018, presents safe passage through the major features of the hydrothermal area, including the milky East Pyrite Pool, the steaming Big Boiler (the largest, hottest fumarole in the park), and the peridot-­g reen West Pyrite Pool. The soils are painted in minerals that span the palette from ivory to soft shades of pumpkin and sage. The bass drumbeat of thumping mudpots plays in the background, while rotten-­egg steam rises and is blown away by the nearly omnipresent high-­country breeze. It’s an invigorating and mildly unnerving site, especially for those with sensitive noses. The boardwalk meets a narrow footpath, which loops back to the bridge at the base of the descent or continues left (east) toward Cold Boiling Lake. When you have finished exploring, you can return as you came or use the trails you didn’t on the descent to vary your route.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Bumpass Hell Trailhead. 0.2 Pass a side trail that leads left, down to the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway

at Lake Helen. 0.7 A side trail leads to an interpretive overlook of the remnants of Brokeoff Volcano. 1.0 Reach the second overlook. From here stay right to descend into Bumpass Hell

via the main trail. When construction is complete, you will also be able to follow a historic trail down into the basin. 1.5 Reach and tour the hydrothermal area, staying on the boardwalk. When you are

done, you can retrace your steps or use alternative footpaths to vary your route. 3.0 Arrive back at the trailhead.

HIKE 5 Bumpass Hell 51

0

BUMPASS HELL

Kilometer

0

89

Mount Helen 8,842 ft.

Emerald Lake

nal Park Highwa atio y nN e ss La

0.5

Mile

Lassen Peak Trailhead

0.5

To Manzanita Lake Entrance

Lake Helen

5

t Ho ll tle a L i t ng s V ri

Sp

Bumpass Mountain 8,758 ft.

ey

Bench and Interpretive Sign

Bumpass Hell

Mudpots and fumaroles

89

To Southwest Entrance Station

To Kings Creek Picnic Area Trailhead and Crumbaugh Lake

Options: The trail to Cold Boiling Lake, 1.9 miles to the east, leads across the bridge that spans the slate-­colored creek that drains Bumpass Hell. This is a nice shuttle hike: Follow the trail to the lake and then up to the Kings Creek Picnic Area. From here you can either meet a ride or hike back the way you came to the Bumpass Hell parking area. The round-­trip distance is about 6.8 miles. The trail from Cold Boiling Lake is the alternative route into Bumpass Hell when heavy winter snow keeps the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway closed into the hiking season. The round trip is about 3.8 miles.

52 Lake Helen

6 LASSEN PEAK WHY GO?

The quintessential hike in the park leads to the 10,457-foot summit of Lassen Peak. On a clear day the views are far-­reaching: You can see the summit of Mount Shasta to the northwest and the snowy Sierra Nevada to the southeast. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 4.4 miles Hiking time: 3–4 hours Difficulty: Strenuous Best season: Late summer into fall Maps: USGS Lassen Peak CA and Reading Peak CA Special considerations: The summit of Lassen Peak is above 10,000 feet. Symptoms of altitude sickness may develop as you climb, including headache, nausea, and fatigue. If such symptoms arise, retreat

immediately to a lower elevation. Carry layers of clothing to protect yourself from wind and changing weather conditions on the summit. Bring plenty of water; none is available along the trail. Trailhead amenities: Large parking lot, restrooms, information signboards. The parking lot may fill on busy summer weekends. If this is the case, park in safe areas alongside the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the park’s Southwest Entrance, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for about 7 miles to the large parking lot on the left (north) side of the highway. The parking area is about 21 miles from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station. GPS: N40 28.463' / W121 30.360'

THE HIKE

This is why you came to Lassen Volcanic National Park. You wanted to climb the mountain. You wanted to enjoy the views from the park’s highest point. You wanted to stand near the gaping maw of a volcano. This is your trail. If you pick your summit day carefully, with a forecast of clear skies, and start early, you are virtually guaranteed a sublime experience, with unsullied views in all directions. From a vantage point on the rim of Lassen’s crater, views open westward across the The highest point on the broad Sacramento River valley to the Yolla Bolly Lassen Park Road is at 8,512 Range, and to the northwest the snowy cone of feet. In good snow years, Mount Shasta dominates the skyline. The northdrifts on the roadsides can tower nearly 30 feet. ern reaches of the rugged Sierra Nevada lie to the southeast, beyond the shimmering surface of Lake Almanor. And under your feet is the volcano itself, its quiet crater innocuous and inviting, sloping gently into a depression on the west side of the summit, nary a rumble of simmering volcanism breaching the sound of the whistling wind.

53

The trail itself is very straightforward and well maintained, upgraded through renovations made in preparation for the park’s centennial celebration in 2016. When I summited in 2012, the renovations were well underway, with tons of hewn rock having been airlifted onto the mountain slopes for the restoration project, known as Reach the Peak. The last time I ventured to the top, in 2016, all signs of construction were gone. The trail was a settled piece of the landscape, wide enough for hikers to pass and outfitted with retaining walls, rest areas with seating, and steps to aid in ascent and descent. The trail follows switchbacks up the A flower finds purchase in the new rock on steep, south-­facing shoulder of the mounLassen’s summit. tain. Handling the altitude is the major challenge, although if it’s early in the season, or if it has been a heavy snow year, patches of ice and snow may increase the level of difficulty. Minimizing the effects of altitude requires plenty of water and time; pausing on the trail to catch your breath will make it all the easier to enjoy the lovely vistas. From the trailhead the broad, sandy path reaches upward and to the north. At the first switchback, witness the scar left by the boots of thoughtless hikers who decided to blaze their own route up the mountain. Remain on the trail, and leave no trace. A clump of hardy mountain hemlocks guards the next switchback. Enjoy a fleeting flat section of trail, pausing at the mile marker to enjoy views southeast of Lake Almanor and the Sierra foothills. At the next switchback a jagged dacite rampart obscures the views REACH THE PEAK Beginning in 2010 the National Park Service and the Lassen Park Foundation embarked on a mission: to restore the Lassen Peak Trail, one of the most well-­ used and well-­loved routes in Lassen Volcanic National Park. The original trail was constructed between 1929 and 1932, although a trail ascended to the summit prior to the eruptions of 1914–17. Many features of that original trail were revived in the reconstruction, including formalizing the route from the crater rim to the summit, which for many years has been reached via scrambling up a web of use trails etched by hikers’ hands and feet on a steep, stony slope. Trail crews from the park service and the Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy labored under harsh, if spectacular, working conditions to complete the project. Work began in 2010 with “the quarrying, washing, and transporting of 2.4 million pounds of stone,” which was ferried to strategic spots along the high-­altitude trail via helicopter, the largest such endeavor in park history, according to park literature. Subsequent seasons have seen reconstruction of retaining walls and stone steps, the installation of interpretive waypoints, and installation of a new radio repeater on the summit. Future plans call for construction of a connector trail to Manzanita Lake and a trail around the crater rim.

54 Lake Helen

The world falls away from the summit of Lassen Peak.

northward and a permanent snowfield (at least for now) spills from the summit ridge. As the trail switchbacks upward, the trees become more stooped and gnarled, and then bow to the wind and snow as low-­lying krummholz. The trail passes above tree line at about 1.2 miles. A series of tight switchbacks winds up through the scree and talus, with retaining walls, stone benches, interpretive signs, and overlooks encouraging frequent stops for both breath-­catching and education. The trail switches back at a melon-­colored wall of serrated dacite; just above these crags, the trail gains a summit ridge. In early season, these highest points may be snow covered, so step carefully. Continue up to a false summit on the edge of the crater, where fragile alpine plants find precarious purchase in crevices slitting the cold, new dacite. The crater is a jumble of darker rock falling away to the northeast. To reach the actual summit, drop into the saddle, cross the permanent snowfield, and ascend the talus on the north rim of the crater. This may be a four-­point climb, but it is no problem if you use your hands. Views of Mount Shasta to the northwest, and the Devastated Area low down on the northwest-­ facing slopes of the peak, are best from here. There once was a lookout on the summit and, until Half the Park Is After Dark: In August, Lassen Volcarecent years, a radio repeater. Both are history— nic National Park rangers one removed by the eruptions at the turn of the join scientists from NASA, twentieth century, the other by the trail renovaamateur astronomers, and tion. The summit is clear of human handiwork other night-­sky watchers for the Dark Sky Festival. (save the route itself): It’s you, the wind, and the Given its high altitudes and views, and it is wonderful. seclusion from the lights Return to the trailhead via the same route; of civilization, the park is ideal for star-­gazing. you’ll find it easier to respond to the chorus of hellos from fellow hikers on the descent. HIKE 6 Lassen Peak 55

0

LASSEN PEAK

Kilometer

0

0.5

Mile

0.5

Crater Lava Flow

Lassen Peak 10,457 ft.

WILDERNESS

BOUNDARY

6

To Southwest Entrance

Lake Helen

ay hw Hig Las sen P a rk N a tional

Emerald Lake

89

To Manzanita Lake Entrance

89

Bumpass Hell Trailhead

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the signed and obvious Lassen Peak Trailhead. 1.2 Pass above tree line. 2.2 Reach the summit. Take in the views and contemplate the crater, then return as you

came. 4.4 Arrive back at the trailhead.

56 Lake Helen

7 TERRACE AND SHADOW LAKES WHY GO?

Both of these lovely lakes offer great views of Lassen Peak as well as opportunities for picnicking, wading, and, for the hardy, swimming. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 2.0 miles Hiking time: 2–3 hours Difficulty: Easy Best season: Midsummer to early fall Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA

Trailhead amenities: Limited parking in a roadside pullout at the trailhead. The nearest restrooms are 2 miles farther up the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway at the Lassen Peak Trailhead.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the park’s Southwest Entrance, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for about 9 miles, over the summit pass, to the Terrace Lake Trailhead, which is on the left (north) side of the highway. From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for 19 miles to the Terrace Lake Trailhead. GPS: N40 28.577' / W121 28.761'

THE HIKE

Cupped in a narrow basin, with nothing but blue sky and the forested summits of faraway peaks visible over the lip, Terrace Lake perches like a raptor on a cliff. The lawnlike meadow that rims the lake’s south shore beckons hikers to rest for a spell; on hot summer days the clear, shallow water invites the hardiest travelers to take a dip. Terrace Lake lies in the cool alpine not far from the Lassen park road.

57

The summit of Lassen Peak rises above Shadow Lake.

Shadow Lake also earns its extraordinariness from its setting. Reached by diving over the rim of the Terrace Lake basin, a seat alongside Shadow Lake’s east shore offers unsurpassed views of Lassen Peak’s steep east-­facing slopes. This lake, its surface an icy, reflective turquoise, also extends an invitation to swim to those with the thickest skins. Take a deep breath . . . From the trailhead the footpath descends quickly through open forest laid with parklike precision on the sun-­bleached, rolling terrain. This landscape is typical of the Lassen’s high country, where broad, rocky swales are draped with lacy sheets of silverleaf lupine and separated by narrow strips of whitebark pine and mountain hemlock. At 0.2 mile reach the intersection with the trail that leads left (north) down to Paradise Meadow and the Hat Creek Trailhead. Turn right (east) to continue to Terrace Lake.

58 Lake Helen

0

TERRACE AND SHADOW LAKES

0

Kilometer Mile

1 1

To Paradise Meadow

Terrace Lake

To Summit Lake

Shadow Lake Cliff Lake

7

Cliffs

89

Lassen Na l Pa na tio

To Southwest Entrance Station

rk

Hi

gh wa

To Kings Creek and Manzanita Lake Entrance Station

Reading Peak 8,714 ft.

y

The path dives into a rocky ravine, then drops into a meadow wedged between the lakeshore to the northeast and the foot of a steep talus field to the southwest. Follow the trail north through the meadow to the lakeshore at 0.5 mile. To continue to Shadow Lake, follow the footpath through talus that litters the southeast shore of Terrace Lake, then climb up and over the rim of the lake’s basin. The descent to Shadow Lake is quick and decisive, traversing a steep north-­facing slope to the shoreline. A brief swatch of grassy beach on the southeastern side of the lake, at about the 1-mile mark, is perfect for contemplation of Lassen Peak, which looms above—or for napping if you are so inclined. Return as you came.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Terrace Lake Trailhead. 0.2 Descend past the trail that leads north to Paradise Meadow. Stay right on the trail

signed for Terrace and Shadow Lakes. 0.5 Reach Terrace Lake. Follow the trail around the lakeshore to reach Shadow Lake. 1.0 Reach the far shore of Shadow Lake. Rest and enjoy the Lassen Peak views, then

return as you came. 2.0 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Options: You can take a longer out-­and-­back day hike by descending to Cliff Lake, which is a little less than 1 mile farther down the trail from Shadow Lake. The shuttle (or out-­and-­back) hike to the Summit Lake Ranger Station trailhead is also sublime, with a one-­way distance of about 4 miles.

HIKE 7 Terrace and Shadow Lakes 59

8 CLIFF LAKE WHY GO?

Separated from the more easily reached Terrace and Shadow Lakes by a length of little-­used trail, Cliff Lake offers blissful solitude and lovely panoramic views of the north face of Reading Peak. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 3.5 miles Hiking time: 2–3 hours Difficulty: Moderate Best season: Midsummer to early fall Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA

Trailhead amenities: Limited parking in a roadside pullout at the trailhead. The nearest restrooms are 2 miles farther up the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway at the Lassen Peak Trailhead.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the Southwest Entrance follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for about 9 miles, over the summit pass, to the Terrace Lake Trailhead, which is on the left (north) side of the highway. From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for 19 miles to the Terrace Lake Trailhead. GPS: N40 28.577' / W121 28.761'

THE HIKE

This sweet little lake is all the more tempting because it lies off the beaten path. Even on the busiest summer weekends, the secluded tarn sees little traffic; hikers often skip past it as they trek between Summit and Terrace Lakes. Even if such a traverse is your goal, make time to check out Cliff Lake. The shallow green pool rests in a depression at the base of the northwest-­facing cliffs of Reading Peak, hence the name. The cliffs crumple into spills of talus on the southeast shore of the lake and rear in great, black-­streaked domes on its southwest shore. Below all this drama, the lake is clear, sand-bottomed, and inviting. Cliff Lake can be reached from the trailheads at Terrace Lake, Summit Lake, and the Hat Lake/Emigrant Pass area. The hike described here is from Terrace Lake, which may not be the easiest route (it’s also an upside-­down hike, with the uphill on the return), but is arguably the most scenic. From the trailhead, drop through the rolling, sparsely forested terrain below Lassen Peak’s east face to the intersection with the trail that leads to Paradise Meadow at 0.2 mile. Stay right (east), and descend into the basin that holds Terrace Lake at 0.5 mile. Circle the southeast side of Terrace Lake, climb over the basin’s lip, and hike down to Shadow Lake at 1 mile. This scenic stretch of trail is a destination in itself, offering great opportunities for swimming and amazing views. Circle the east shore of Shadow Lake to continue to Cliff Lake. The trail, wedged between the turquoise water and the talus slope that spills from the western reaches of Reading Peak, leads to the eastern edge of the lake and then breaks away; an informal path continues around the lake.

60

Clear and cool, Cliff Lake is an ideal locale for a break on the trail that links Terrace Lake and Summit Lake.

Descend into the open woodland to the right (east). Yellow dots on the trees mark the way. Reading Peak dominates the southeast horizon as you make a quick and easy descent to a narrow swath of meadow and a creek crossing. Small ponds dot the terrace upon which the meadow lies; beyond the ponds, the trail rolls down through a mixed-­ evergreen forest to the intersection with the trail to Cliff Lake, at 1.5 miles.

HIKE 8 Cliff Lake 61

0

CLIFF LAKE

Kilometer

0

Mile

1 1

To Paradise Meadow

Terrace Lake

To Summit Lake

Shadow Lake Cliff Lake

8

Cliffs

89

To Southwest Entrance Station

Lassen Na l Pa na tio rk

Hi

gh wa

To Kings Creek and Manzanita Lake Entrance Station

Reading Peak 8,714 ft.

y

Turn right (south) onto the trail to Cliff Lake, which drops through the tangle of trees. The lake is well screened by the forest until you approach its shoreline, where a colorful strip of wildflowers watered by the outlet stream is revealed. Walk another 100 yards; at 1.75 miles you stand on the lake’s grassy shore. Pick a spot on a sun-­warmed rock or fallen snag, and rest a spell before returning as you came.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Terrace Lake Trailhead. 0.2 Pass the trail that leads left (north) to Paradise Meadow. Stay right to Terrace Lake. 0.5 Reach Terrace Lake. 1.0 Pass Shadow Lake. 1.5 At the signed trail junction, turn right toward Cliff Lake. 1.75 Arrive at Cliff Lake. Take in the sights, and then return as you came. 3.5 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Option: You can also reach Cliff Lake (and Shadow and Terrace Lakes as well) from the Summit Lake Ranger Station trailhead. This is a longer hike, but it’s not upside down and is arguably more attractive for that reason. The out-­and-­back distance from the Summit Lake Trailhead is about 5 miles. Cliff Lake is also a wonderful stop on a one-­way shuttle hike that links Terrace Lake at the top with Summit Lake at the bottom. The one-­way distance (all downhill) is 4.3 miles.

62 Lake Helen

9 TERRACE LAKE TO SUMMIT LAKE WHY GO?

Enjoy great views of the northern reaches of Lassen Volcanic National Park as you descend from one spectacular lake to another. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; shuttle or out-­and-­back Distance: 4.3 miles one-­way Hiking time: 2–3 hours Difficulty: Moderate Best season: Midsummer to early fall Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA

Trailhead amenities: Limited parking in a roadside pullout at the trailhead. The nearest restrooms are 2 miles farther up the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway at the Lassen Peak Trailhead. Parking, restrooms, and water, as well as a ranger station, are at the Summit Lake trailhead.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the Southwest Entrance follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for about 9 miles, over the summit pass, to the Terrace Lake Trailhead, which is on the left (north) side of the highway. From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for 19 miles to the Terrace Lake Trailhead. The Summit Lake end of the trail is at the Summit Lake Ranger Station, about 16 miles from the Southwest Entrance Station and 12 miles from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station. GPS (Terrace Lake Trailhead): N40 28.577' / W121 28.761'

THE HIKE

The trail between Terrace and Summit Lakes passes through some of the most accessible “off the beaten path” terrain in the park. The route takes you past Terrace and Shadow Lakes, with their marvelous views of Lassen Peak, down to secluded Cliff Lake, and then on to the welcoming shores of Summit Lake. This route is most easily done as a downhill shuttle (and is described here as such). If you want to make it an out-­and-­back journey, start at Summit Lake. That way it’ll be all downhill on the return. Start at the Terrace Lake Trailhead on the eastern flank of Lassen Peak. The trail drops 0.2 mile to the intersection with the route that leads north to Paradise Meadow. Turn right (northeast), and continue down to Terrace Lake at 0.5 mile. Enjoy the views at Terrace Lake, then forge ahead to Shadow Lake by skirting Terrace Lake’s southeast shore and climbing up and over the lip at its northern edge. The trail continues around the southeast shore of Shadow Lake, departing from the lake’s east side to head northeast toward Cliff Lake at the 1-mile mark. Descend over rolling terrain, crossing a meadow-­covered terrace dotted with ponds, to the intersection with the trail that leads to Cliff Lake at 1.5 miles. Turn right (south) and go 0.25 mile to visit this lovely tarn. Backtrack to the trail intersection at the 2-mile mark, and turn right (northeast) to continue the descent to Summit Lake.

63

Views of Lassen’s summit and swaths of silverleaf lupine grace the trail linking Terrace Lake to Summit Lake.

Las se n

89

Nat i

To Kings Creek and Manzanita Lake Entrance Station

To Southwest Entrance Station

9

Hw y.

Terrace Lake

Shadow Lake

Paradise Meadow

Reading Peak 8,714 ft.

Cliff Lake

Cliffs

Meadow

To Kings Creek and Southwest Entrance

Cascade Springs

0

k t C re e

ork Ha East F

0

89

89

Nat i

L a ssen

a

Summit Lake Trailhead

Mile

Kilometer

y Hig hw ona l Pa rk

TERRACE LAKE TO SUMMIT LAKE

ar k al P on

1

Summit Lake South Campground

Summit Lake Trail

Summit Lake

Summit Lake North Campground

Dersch Meadows

1

From the Cliff Lake intersection, the route heads downhill through mixed fir forest and then breaks free of the trees into a large meadow at 2.25 miles. Cross a section of the meadow and then skirt its northwest edge. If you walk with care, you can observe wildlife browsing in the meadow—perhaps a shy deer, almost assuredly songbirds and butterflies. Cross the clear stream that waters the meadow, then follow the quickening creek northeast until the trail veers away to the right (east). Reenter the woodland, and continue downhill on a gradual descent. The eastern shoulder of Reading Peak slopes down and parallel to the trail on the right (southeast). When the trail clears Reading Peak’s shadow, views open to the wooded old volcanoes of Lassen’s northern backcountry. Hat Mountain, an aptly named cinder cone, lies directly ahead. The trail’s pitch becomes a bit more aggressive, and sounds of the park highway occasionally waft upward. The open canopy allows manzanita to flourish on the forest floor. A steep switchback marks the boundary between the open woodland and a denser forest of lodgepole pines. The trail weaves through the pines to its inauspicious end along the side of the park highway at the 4.1-mile mark. To reach the Summit Lake Ranger Station, follow the park highway right (east) for 0.1 mile to the ranger station access road on the left (north); the trailhead staging area is at 4.3 miles.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Terrace Lake Trailhead. 0.2 At the junction with the trail to Paradise Meadow, stay right on the path to Terrace

Lake. 0.5 Reach Terrace Lake. 1.0 Pass Shadow Lake. 1.5 Arrive at the junction with the trail to Cliff Lake. Turn right and descend to the tarn. 1.75 Arrive at Cliff Lake. Take a break, and then retrace your steps. 2.0 Back at the trail intersection, turn right to continue down to Summit Lake. 2.25 The descent mellows in a mountain meadow. 4.1 Reach the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway. Turn right and follow the high-

way to the turnoff for the Summit Lake Ranger Station. 4.3 Arrive at trail’s end at the Summit Lake Ranger Station trailhead.

Option: If you haven’t arranged for a shuttle, retrace your steps for an 8.6-mile round trip.

66 Lake Helen

Kings Creek Of the several creeks that originate on Lassen Peak, filling ponds and lakes and watering sprawling meadows, Kings Creek is one of the more substantial. The creek drains the southeast slopes of the mountain, coursing through dramatic landscapes that render it a magnet for those seeking visual fireworks without the fire. Traveling the trails that loop through the Kings Creek drainage and its environs allows hikers to witness the creek’s development from gurgling streamlet to substantial waterway. Near its headwaters in the park’s upper reaches, it is a shallow, winding ribbon that can be stepped over easily. Lower down, the creek is funneled between rock walls into an exhilarating cataract and then tumbles over a 70-foot precipice. Below the falls, Kings Creek widens and deepens as it is fed by tributaries including Summit Creek and the stream that spills out of the Grassy Swale. By the time it reaches Corral Meadow, it presents a sizable obstacle to the hiker who wants to cross. From the meadow, the creek rushes southeast out of the park, eventually spilling into the Feather River and Lake Almanor. The most popular hike on Kings Creek leads to Kings Creek Falls, with the short, easy path to Cold Boiling Lake reeling in second place. But longer rambles on scenic loops and shuttles offer wonderful trekking opportunities. Consult a good park map or the USGS Reading Peak map to plan more extensive or varied excursions. There are two trailheads in the Kings Creek area. The trailhead at the Kings Creek Picnic Area features plenty of parking, restrooms, and picnic facilities, and serves as the trailhead for hikes to Cold Boiling Lake, Crumbaugh Lake, Twin Meadows, Conard Meadows, and Bumpass Hell. It is located about 16.5 miles southeast of the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station on the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway and 11.5 miles northeast of the Southwest Entrance Station. The Kings Creek Trailhead, with parking alongside the park highway, has no amenities. The trails originating here lead to a number of lovely spots, including Kings Creek Falls, Sifford Lake, Bench Lake, and Corral Meadow. This trailhead is located 15.5 miles from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station and 12.5 miles from Wildflower gardens bloom next to the staircase trail alongside the Kings Creek Cascades. the Southwest Entrance Station.

67

10 COLD BOILING LAKE WHY GO?

This easy trek leads to an odd, but lovely, bubbling lake. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 1.4 miles Hiking time: About 1 hour Difficulty: Easy Best season: Midsummer through fall

Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA Trailhead amenities: Ample parking, restrooms, picnic facilities, information signboard

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD To reach the Kings Creek Picnic Area trailhead from the Southwest Entrance Station, take the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for 11.5 miles to the Kings Creek Picnic Area turnoff. Go right (south) onto the access road, and drive 0.1 mile to the parking area. From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, drive 16.5 miles on the park highway; the Kings Creek Picnic Area access road is on your left (south). GPS: N40 27.591' / W121 28.473'

Bubbles roil on the surface of Cold Boiling Lake.

68

0

COLD BOILING LAKE

0

Ki

Mile

Springs ng

s

C

ree

Kilometer

1 1

To Southwest Entrance

89

k

To Summit Lake and Manzanita Lake Entrance Station Bumpass Mountain 8,758 ft.

10 To Bumpass Hell and Lake Helen Area Meadow

Cold Boiling Lake

89

Kings Creek Picnic Area

Meadow

Crumbaugh Lake To Conard Meadows

To Twin Meadows

THE HIKE

Of all the overtly volcanic features in Lassen Volcanic National Park, Cold Boiling Lake is unique for its subtlety. It appears to be a typical alpine tarn, surrounded by soft meadow grasses, a rim of forest, and black-­streaked dacite cliffs. Its shores are placid; its waters seem inviting. Then you see them: tiny bubbles gurgling along the grass-­r immed shoreline, bursting noiselessly on the surface. Caused by the gases escaping Lassen’s turbulent innards, the bubbles are a relatively benign reminder that you are standing on the slopes of a volcano. The hike begins in the Kings Creek Picnic Area, heading up and southeast past the informational billboard into an open woodland of mountain hemlock. Climb over the rise; then drop gently through snow-­twisted and stunted trees. The broad, well-­used route skirts the edge of a clearing thick with silverleaf lupine, a low-­g rowing plant with purple flowers and velvety leaves that thrives in the harsh volcanic soils of the park’s high country.Yellow dots on the trees mark the way. Roll over a brief, forested hummock into another clearing, and reach a trail junction. Stay right (straight/southwest) to Cold Boiling Lake, which lies 0.2 mile ahead; the trail to the left leads, as the sign says, to Twin Meadows. An easy descent leads to the meadow-­r immed lake. Circle counterclockwise around the shore on informal trails to get good views of the boiling waters. Boulders near the trail at the forest’s edge are perfect for sunbathing. When you are done exploring, return as you came.

HIKE 10 Cold Boiling Lake 69

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Begin at the Kings Creek Picnic Area trailhead. 0.5 Pass the trail to Twin Meadows. 0.7 Arrive on the shores of Cold Boiling Lake. Check out the bubbles, and then return as

you came. 1.4 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Options: From Cold Boiling Lake you can continue for 1.9 miles to Bumpass Hell. A signed trail takes you to this popular destination, and this is the recommended alternative route into the hydrothermal area when the park highway is closed by winter snows. Another signed trail descends to Crumbaugh Lake, which lies a relatively easy 1 mile downhill. This trail continues south and west to Conard Meadows and Mill Creek Falls, and ends at the Kohm Yah-­mah-­nee Visitor Center at the Southwest Entrance.

70 Kings Creek

11 CRUMBAUGH LAKE WHY GO?

Bag two pretty lakes with one great hike. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 2.6 miles Hiking time: 1–2 hours Difficulty: Easy Best season: Midsummer through fall

Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA Trailhead amenities: Ample parking, restrooms, picnic facilities, information signboard

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD To reach the Kings Creek Picnic Area trailhead from the Southwest Entrance Station, take the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for 11.5 miles to the Kings Creek Picnic Area turnoff. Go right (south) onto the access road, and drive 0.1 mile to the parking area. From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, drive 16.5 miles on the park highway; the Kings Creek Picnic Area access road is on your left (south). GPS: N40 27.591' / W121 28.473'

Mount Conard looms over peaceful Crumbaugh Lake.

71

THE HIKE

The secluded cradle of Crumbaugh Lake rings with birdsong in the summer months. The lake, olive green and still, is fed by streams that bleed off the steep slopes that ring the basin. Obvious signs of volcanism are limited to the bank of lava cliffs rising to the north; this is pure high country, replete with plentiful wildflowers and a plethora of bugs throughout the hiking season. If you hike the glorified game trail that traces the lakeshore, be sure to keep your mouth closed or you are likely to get your daily protein intake via inhaled insects. The hike to Crumbaugh Lake begins on the same trail that leads to Cold Boiling Lake. From the trailhead at the Kings Creek Picnic Area, climb past the informational billboard, and then hike through stands of evergreen forest and past open areas carpeted with silverleaf lupine. Go right (straight) at the intersection with the trail to Twin Meadows at 0.5 mile. Cold Boiling Lake lies 0.25 mile beyond. At the trail intersection on the south shore of Cold Boiling Lake, go left (southwest) toward Crumbaugh Lake, following the sign. The trail curves south, tracing the stream that drops from Cold Boiling Lake into Crumbaugh Lake.Yellow dots on the trees mark the well-­maintained route. Reach the border of a meadow that, in early season (or longer, if it has been a heavy snow year), doubles as the setting for ephemeral pools—and may be shrouded in a veil of bugs. The muddy track may sport the hoof prints of deer and the waffle-­stomp prints of other hiking boots. Pass a second pond/bog/meadow as you descend into denser woodland—stay on the trail to reduce damage to fragile vegetation—then enjoy a brief flat stretch alongside a narrow, grassy clearing. 0

CRUMBAUGH LAKE

0

Ki

Mile

Springs ng

s

C

ree

Kilometer

1 1

To Southwest Entrance

89

k

To Summit Lake and Manzanita Lake Entrance Station Bumpass Mountain 8,758 ft.

11 To Bumpass Hell and Lake Helen Area

Cold Boiling Lake

Kings Creek Picnic Area

Crumbaugh Lake To Conard Meadows

72 Kings Creek

To Twin Meadows

89

An expansive view of an evergreen-­crowned ridge, a stream-­cut meadow, and dun mounds of sterile earth opens on your right (west) as the path continues to descend. Crumbaugh Lake, the headwaters for the North Arm Rice Creek, lies at the foot of the barren earthworks. An overgrown and insect-­infested informal trail leads around the lakeshore to the left (southeast), but with no place to sit and contemplate the scenery on this side of the moist, grassy basin, it might be better to avoid exploration. The formal trail continues around the lake to the right (north); the woods creep up to the lakeshore on its southern banks, where fallen logs and stumps offer respite. Return as you came.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Kings Creek Picnic Area trailhead. 0.5 Pass the trail to Twin Meadows. Stay right, following the sign for Cold Boiling Lake. 0.75 Arrive on the shores of Cold Boiling Lake. Go left on the trail signed for Crumbaugh

Lake. 0.9 Pass two vernal pools (may be dry in late season). 1.3 Reach Crumbaugh Lake. Stay as long as the bugs permit, then return as you came. 2.6 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Options: If you have arranged for a shuttle, you can continue downhill and southwest all the way to the Southwest Walk-­in Campground. Isolated Conard Meadows lies about 1.5 miles beyond Crumbaugh Lake. Mill Creek Falls also lies downstream—and steeply downhill—about 2.3 miles southwest of the lake.

HIKE 11 Crumbaugh Lake 73

12 TWIN MEADOWS WHY GO?

This seldom-­traveled, upside-­down route leads over wooded benches to narrow, secluded meadows. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 4.4 miles Hiking time: 2–3 hours Difficulty: Moderate Best season: Midsummer through fall

Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA Trailhead amenities: Ample parking, restrooms, picnic facilities, information signboard

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD To reach the Kings Creek Picnic Area trailhead, take the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for 11.5 miles from the Southwest Entrance Station to the Kings Creek Picnic Area turnoff. Go right (south) onto the access road, and drive 0.1 mile to the parking area. From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, drive 16.5 miles on the park highway; the Kings Creek Picnic Area access road is on your left (south). GPS: N40 27.591' / W121 28.473'

THE HIKE

The trek to Twin Meadows is one of those cases where the journey is the goal. The destination—moist, narrow meadows bordered by thick, primeval forest—isn’t a place you’re going to want to hang out in for long, and the length of your stay is going to depend on your tolerance for winged pests and the strength of your insect repellent. It’s worth notching this hike on your walking stick if you’re in Lassen to see all the sights or to seek solitude, but if your visit is short, you can pass it by. Bumpass Hell, Cold Boiling and Crumbaugh Lakes, and Kings Creek Falls are superior options. Still, the trail has its charms, chief among them its relative seclusion. One of the park’s paths less traveled, it imparts a genuine wilderness feeling without the uncertainty of traveling cross-­country. Still, you must pay attention—the track is narrow and rough, and though it is marked by yellow dots on trees, it sometimes seems as though you’ve wandered so far off the beaten path that even trail markers have been forgotten. Other perks include long-­ranging views and an impressive bank of dacite cliffs. Just above the meadows, the trail dives off a promontory with views of Mount Conard and the wooded ridges that roll away to the southwest. Begin at the Kings Creek Picnic Area trailhead, following the marked route that starts at the informational billboard. Head uphill into open woodland of mountain hemlock; on the other side of the rise, the wide path drops gently through snow-­twisted and stunted trees. The route skirts the edge of a meadow thick with silverleaf lupine, then rolls over a brief, forested hummock into another clearing. At the first trail intersection at 0.5 mile, at the edge of the big clearing above Cold Boiling Lake, take the left (south) fork, following the sign for Twin Meadows. The lonely route begins amid silverleaf lupine, which crowds the gently descending path. As the trail drops, it is siphoned through a narrow gully. Rockfall spills off the cliff

74

Crumbling gray cliffs tower over the little-­used trail that drops into remote Twin Meadows.

to the left (east). Cross the drainage and continue downward, traversing above a seasonal streambed that is dry by late summer. The trail leaves the drainage to circle the base of a grand, black-­streaked cliff skirted with talus. The path gets rockier as it descends. At the base of a steep hill, the route zigzags through cut logs and rotting deadfall; yellow trail markers indicate the way. Follow another dry drainage before crossing to its left (east) side and wandering out onto the sparsely wooded promontory at about the 2-mile mark. Wind carefully down a steep, rocky section as the trail drops off the promontory into the woods, then pass through dense evergreen stands to the northern reaches of the meadow. The route disappears amid the thick grasses of the narrow meadowlands, though the yellow dots appear here and there on the trees. Explore if the bugs allow; this is a meadow in transition, marshy in spots and invaded by trees in others. After your visit, return as you came. HIKE 12 Twin Meadows 75

Kilometer

0

TWIN MEADOWS

0

Ki

ng

Bumpass Mountain 8,758 ft.

1

Mile To Southwest Entrance

s Cre ek

1

Upper Meadow

To Summit Lake and Manzanita Lake Entrance Station 89

12

Cold Boiling Lake

To Bumpass Hell and Lake Helen Area

Kings Creek Picnic Area

Crumbaugh Lake

Tw i n M ead

ows

To Conard Lake

m

N o r t h Ar

Ric

e

Cr eek

L A S S E N VO L CA N I C NAT I O NA L PA R K B O U N D A RY

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Kings Creek Picnic Area trailhead. 0.5 At the trail junction, go left on the signed trail to Twin Meadows. 2.2 Reach Twin Meadows. Swat a few mosquitoes before retracing your steps. 4.4 Arrive back at the trailhead.

76 Kings Creek

13 SIFFORD LAKE WHY GO?

The small lake at trail’s end sits on a picturesque rocky bench. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 5.6 miles Hiking time: 3–4 hours Difficulty: Moderate Best season: Midsummer through early fall

Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA Trailhead amenities: Parking in pullouts along the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway; information signboards, trash cans

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD The Kings Creek Falls Trailhead is located on the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway about 15.5 miles from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station and 12.5 miles from the Southwest Entrance Station. It is on the southeast side of the highway. GPS: N40 27.624' / W121 27.556'

THE HIKE

The saucer of dark gray rock that cradles Sifford Lake is almost perfectly round. A smattering of evergreens shades its perimeter, but mostly the lake’s shores are open and bathed in sunlight. The rock, dacite of (you guessed it) volcanic origin, warms up nicely in the summertime and is spread around the lake in smooth, rolling mounds that invite lounging. Late in the season, or in light snow years, slivers of beach are exposed. If the day is exceptionally warm, the rocks and the sun conspire to make taking a dip in the clear waters a temptation . . . or a reality. The trail drops from the Kings Creek Falls Trailhead to the lake over sparsely wooded benches. It’s easy walking on the descent, a bit harder on the climb up.You can also stitch this lake into a wonderful loop of the Kings Creek area. The trail begins on the southeast side of the highway at the Kings Creek Falls Trailhead. Descend through red firs to the Lower Meadow, which is watered by the narrow but vigorous Kings Creek. The expansive meadow is green and sprinkled with wildflowers in spring and glows gold in autumn. The trail forks at 0.5 mile, near the eastern edge of the meadow. The trail to Kings Creek Falls leads to the left (east); the signed trail to Sifford Lake is to the right (southeast). Go right on the trail to Sifford Lake. The single track leads through the marshy lower reaches of the meadow, passing a bench at 1.2 miles and crossing Kings Creek on a log bridge. Easy climbing leads through the open forest to the vague high point of the trail, then the route begins to descend through more open forest, dropping over several rocky benches. The landscape is gray and green, relatively stark, with the tops of the trees bent by the wind and sheared off by lightning. On some of the benches the rock is relatively naked; other benches feature thick patches of manzanita. At 2.8 miles the trail forks, with the trail to Sifford Lake breaking off to the right (west), and the left-­hand path leading left (southeast) toward the Warner Valley. The route 77

To Southwest Entrance and Kings Creek Picnic Area

Upper Meadow

89

SIFFORD LAKE

13

Lass en Na

Lower Meadow

S i ff

o rd

Park High way nal tio

Lak es

Cataracts

des Trai l C asca

Horse Trail

89

Kings Creek Falls

Cl if fs

Sifford Lake

Bench Lake

To Summit Lake and Manzanita Lake Entrance Station

0

0 Mile

Kilometer

Kin

ree gs C

0.5

k

To Corral Meadow

To Warner Valley

0.5

Sifford Lake is one of the most appealing backcountry destinations in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

is a roller coaster between this junction and the lake itself, climbing through a quartet of gullies, the last of which is carpeted with pinemat manzanita and features the steepest pitch of the bunch. After the final short climb, arrive at the lakeshore at 3.2 miles. An informal trail leads around the peaceful tarn and to the other lakes (called Sifford Lakes) captured in depressions on the dacite benches. Explore as you wish, or simply recline on the shoreline. Return as you came.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Kings Creek Falls Trailhead. 0.5 Reach the trail fork in the meadow; bear right toward Sifford Lake. 1.2 Cross Kings Creek via a log bridge. 2.4 At the trail junction, turn right onto the signed trail to Sifford Lake. 2.8 Reach the shoreline of Sifford Lake. Rest awhile and then retrace your steps. 5.6 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Options: The Kings Creek Falls Trailhead is the gateway to backcountry trails leading down to the Warner Valley and Drakesbad. With a good map, some time, and perhaps a prearranged shuttle, this route can be linked with longer treks to Kings Creek Falls, Corral Meadow, and the thermal areas in the Warner Valley.

HIKE 13 Sifford Lake 79

14 KINGS CREEK FALLS AND THE CASCADES WHY GO?

The spectacular falls of Kings Creek, 70 feet of whitewater spilling down dark rock, and the thundering cataracts in the gorge above combine to make this hike one of the park’s gems. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; lollipop Distance: 2.8 miles Hiking time: 2–3 hours Difficulty: Moderate Best season: Early summer, when the creek is swollen with snowmelt

Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA Trailhead amenities: Parking in pullouts along the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway; information signboards, trash cans

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD The Kings Creek Falls Trailhead is located on the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway about 15.5 miles from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station and 12.5 miles from the Southwest Entrance Station. It is on the southeast side of the highway. GPS: N40 27.624' / W121 27.556'

THE HIKE

Invigorating. That single, simple word remains most apt when I think of hiking to Kings Creek Falls and the Cascades. First, there are the views that open from overlooks along the Horse Trail, of forested summits and ridges stretching southeast over the Warner Valley and toward Lake Almanor. Then there are the falls: A split-­level platform edged with rough log fencing forms a safe overlook and allows you to take in the entire spill and peer down to the base and the creek bed—potentially a vertigo-­inducing challenge. Finally, the revamped Cascades Trail climbs a stone staircase alongside a churning veil of whitewater that feeds rockbound wildflower gardens. Bring a camera for this one. It’s spectacular. Begin by dropping from the trailhead through a brief stretch of red firs to the edge of the Lower Meadow. You might think that Kings Creek is energetic here, flowing playfully over the rocks that litter its bed, but you haven’t seen anything yet. At 0.5 mile, near the east edge Kings Creek cascades through a gray and green ravine. of the meadow, the trail forks. Go

80

One of the most popular destinations in Lassen Volcanic National Park, Kings Creek Falls spills over a 70-foot cliff.

left (northeast) on the trail to Kings Creek Falls; the right (southeast) trail leads to Sifford Lake. The Horse Trail departs from the Cascades Trail at the next sign and trail intersection at 0.7 mile. The one-­way Cascades Trail, which parallels the Kings Creek cascades and was closed due to hazardous hiking conditions for several seasons, is to the right; this is the return route. Stay left on the signed Horse Trail. The Horse Trail climbs to an open area that offers views of the Kings Creek drainage and down toward Warner Valley; then begins a fairly steep, rocky, switchbacking descent. How horses negotiate this stretch is a mystery; it’s not an easy pitch. At the bottom of the slope, navigate a haphazard walkway of mud-­covered boards and rocks through a marshy area to where the Horse Trail meets the bottom of the Cascades Trail at 1.25 miles. Turn left on the well-­worn creek-­side path. Stay left again at a log bridge spanning the relatively calm creek on the right (south), where a signed trail leads up to Bench Lake, Sifford Lake, and points beyond. The creek drops over the falls about 100 yards downstream from the bridge. The trail forks before the falls, with the right (lower and streamside) path leading to the overlook. From this perch you can safely observe the splintered white sheet spun by the 70-foot drop of Kings Creek. After you’ve swallowed your awe and taken all your photographs, return to the junction of the Horse Trail and the Cascades Trail. Stay left alongside the creek on the Cascades track, which almost immediately tucks into a narrowing and steepening ravine. A beautiful, one-­way, stairstep path has been etched along the north side of the gorge, and

HIKE 14 Kings Creek Falls and the Cascades 81

To Southwest Entrance and Kings Creek Picnic Area

Upper Meadow

89

14

Lass en Na

Lower Meadow

KINGS CREEK FALLS AND THE CASCADES

S i ff

o rd

Park High way nal tio

Lak es

Cataracts

des Trai l C asca

Horse Trail

89

Kings Creek Falls

Cl if fs

Sifford Lake

Bench Lake

To Summit Lake and Manzanita Lake Entrance Station

0

0 Mile

Kilometer

Kin

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0.5

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To Corral Meadow

To Warner Valley

0.5

An artfully reconstructed one-­way trail leads up along the Kings Creek Cascades.

Kings Creek is funneled alongside. When swollen with meltwater the cataract is a long, uninterrupted, billowing curtain of whitewater. Small pockets of wildflowers hug the edges of the trail and hollows in the black-­streaked rock walls on either side of the waterway. The scenery can completely distract from any exhaustion you might feel climbing the steps (as I can personally attest), but the trail builders have kindly created rest stops, or vista points, along the way. The Cascades Trail meets the Horse Trail at the top of the cataract; from there, retrace your steps to the trailhead.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Kings Creek Falls Trailhead. 0.5 Reach the trail intersection in the Lower Meadow; go left on the signed path for

Kings Creek Falls. 0.7 At the junction of the one-­way Cascades Trail and the Horse Trail, go left on the

Horse Trail. 1.25 The Horse Trail meets the Cascades Trail at creekside. Go left, tracing the creek

downstream. 1.4 Pass the signed trail to Sifford and Bench Lakes. Stay left toward Kings Creek Falls. 1.5 Reach the falls overlook. Explore and take in the spill, then retrace your steps to the

junction of the Horse Trail and the Cascades Trail. 1.75 At the junction, stay left (creekside) on the Cascades Trail. Stone stairs lead up

alongside the cataract. 2.1 Reach the top of the staircase at the junction with the Horse Trail. Stay left to

retrace your steps to the trailhead. 2.8 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Option: You can use Kings Creek Falls as the first stop on longer treks, including a fine loop that encompasses Sifford Lake, a long ramble down to Corral Meadow, or a shuttle hike that ends at Summit Lake.

HIKE 14 Kings Creek Falls and the Cascades 83

15 KINGS CREEK FALLS, BENCH LAKE, AND SIFFORD LAKE LOOP WHY GO?

A waterfall, steep cliffs pocked with caves, a vernal pool, and a lovely lake—what more could you ask for in a hike? THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; loop Distance: 6.0 miles Hiking time: 3–4 hours Difficulty: Moderate Best season: Midsummer through fall

Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA Trailhead amenities: Parking in pullouts along the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway; information signboards, trash cans

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD The Kings Creek Falls Trailhead is located on the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway (CA 89) about 15.5 miles from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station and 12.5 miles from the Southwest Entrance Station. It is on the southeast side of the highway. GPS: N40 27.642' / W121 27.564'

THE HIKE

First comes lovely Lower Meadow. Then views open down into Warner Valley from the Horse Trail leading to Kings Creek. The whitewater spill of Kings Creek Falls is up next. Beyond, dark caves tucked into gray cliffs hover over the trail. A bit farther along, shallow Bench Lake rests in its secluded wooded bowl. Above, Sifford Lake gleams in its highland basin. It’s a pretty perfect sequence for a single trail loop. I’ve chosen to describe this loop in a clockwise direction, beginning on the Kings Creek Falls Trail and ending with the climb from Sifford Lake. My rationale: You climb on the return trip regardless, but the climb from Sifford Lake is, arguably, easier.You can hike the loop in either direction, however, and traveling counterclockwise provides the option of climbing the stunning stairstep Cascades Trail alongside Kings Creek. To begin, drop from the trailhead down into the Lower Meadow. Skirt the flowery meadow’s northern border to the intersection with the Sifford Lake Trail at 0.5 mile. Stay left (northeast) on the trail to Kings Creek Falls, taking the Horse Trail at the next junction. At the bottom of a rocky descent, the Horse Trail reaches the creek. Turn left toward Kings Creek Falls, passing the signed trail to Bench and Sifford Lakes. No worries; you’ll be back here soon enough. The falls overlook is at the 1.5-mile mark. Take in the 70-foot spill from the clifftop perch, and then backtrack to pick up the signed trail to Bench Lake, which begins by crossing a log bridge over Kings Creek. The trail climbs up and away from the creek via switchbacks through the woods, and then leaves the cocoon of forest at the foot of a steep cliff of folded gray andesite. The traverse along the base of the cliffs is wonderful, with rocks that have peeled from the cliffs lying in broken chunks alongside the route. Caves and dark crevices pock the towering cliff face.

84

Andesite cliffs and talus sweep down toward the trail leading toward Bench Lake.

Head up along the base of the cliff through jumbled talus and trees, then climb onto the lip of the bench that is home to Bench Lake. Switchbacks drop you down to the lake, which in late season or during dry seasons may be little more than a puddle sprinkled with rocks and skirted in thin grasses—or completely dry. The trail skims the north shore of the lake, then drops through open woodland and scrub to the intersection with the trail to Warner Valley and Corral Meadow at 2.4 miles. To continue to Sifford Lake, turn sharply right (west) at this intersection. It’s a steady, sometimes steep climb from here to the Kings Creek Trailhead, but the work is mitigated by taking a break at Sifford Lake. The ascent begins steep and rocky, leading up onto a bench. Cross relatively flat terrain to the southwest, meeting the signed spur trail to Sifford Lake. Bear left (west), following the path through four shallow hollows to the lakeshore at 3.2 miles. Park yourself on a patch Established on August 9, of sun-­ warmed rock, catch your breath, and 1916, Lassen is one of the oldeat the candy bar that’s been melting in your est parks in the national park backpack; you’ll need the energy for the steady system. The National Park climbing ahead. Service was created shortly thereafter, on August 25, 1916. After your break, retrace your steps to the junction and turn left onto the trail to the Kings Creek Falls Trailhead. The path climbs over rocky benches carpeted with pinemat manzanita and wildflowers that flourish in a sparse woodland with its canopy open to sun and sky. After cresting the final bench,

HIKE 15 Kings Creek Falls, Bench Lake, and Sifford Lake Loop 85

To Southwest Entrance and Kings Creek Picnic Area

Upper Meadow

89

15

Lower Meadow

Lass en Na

S i ff

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Park High way nal tio

KINGS CREEK FALLS, BENCH LAKE, AND SIFFORD LAKE LOOP

Lak es

Cataracts

des Trai l C asca

Horse Trail

89

Kings Creek Falls

Cl if fs

Sifford Lake

Bench Lake

To Summit Lake and Manzanita Lake Entrance Station

0

0 Mile

Kilometer

Kin

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0.5

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To Corral Meadow

To Warner Valley

0.5

A split log bridge spans Kings Creek in the Lower Meadow, near the end of the loop trail.

drop into the southern reaches of the Lower Meadow. Cross the log footbridge that spans Kings Creek, much calmer here than in its cataracts and falls.Wander through the marshy grassland to the intersection with the route that leads down to Kings Creek Falls at 5.5 miles. Unless you want to do laps, turn left (northwest) and retrace your steps along the margin of the meadow to the trailhead.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Kings Creek Falls Trailhead. 0.5 Reach the trail intersection in the Lower Meadow; stay left on the signed path for

Kings Creek Falls. 0.7 At the junction of the Cascades Trail and the Horse Trail, go left on the Horse Trail. 1.25 The Horse Trail intersects the Cascades Trail next to the creek. Go left. 1.4 Pass the signed trail to Sifford and Bench Lakes. Stay left toward Kings Creek Falls. 1.5 Reach the falls overlook. Take in the sights, and then retrace your steps to the signed

junction with the trail to Sifford and Bench Lakes. Turn left, crossing the creek. 1.7 Pass beneath the andesite cliffs. 2.1 Arrive at Bench Lake. 2.4 At the junction with the signed trail that leads left (southeast) to Warner Valley and

Corral Meadow, stay right on the trail to Sifford Lake. 2.7 At the trail junction, go left to Sifford Lake. The trail to the right is the final leg of the

loop, returning to Kings Creek. 3.2 Reach Sifford Lake. Take a break on the rocky shoreline, and then retrace your steps

to the junction with the trail to Kings Creek and head left (uphill). 4.8 Cross Kings Creek in the Lower Meadow. 5.5 Close the loop at the junction with the Kings Creek Falls Trail. Retrace your steps. 6.0 Arrive back at the trailhead.

HIKE 15 Kings Creek Falls, Bench Lake, and Sifford Lake Loop 87

16 KINGS CREEK FALLS TO CORRAL MEADOW WHY GO?

The many faces of Kings Creek, including the falls, the confluence with Summit Creek, and the broad meanders through Corral Meadow, are highlighted along this route. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike or backpack; out-­and-­back Distance: 9.2 miles Hiking time: 5–7 hours Difficulty: Strenuous Best season: Midsummer through fall

Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA Trailhead amenities: Parking in pullouts along the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway; information signboards, trash cans

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD The trailhead is on the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway about 15.5 miles from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station and 12.5 miles from the Southwest Entrance Station. It is on the southeast side of the highway. GPS: N40 27.642' / W121 27.564'

THE HIKE

Trekking through the park’s southern backcountry can be strenuous, in terms of both distance and altitude gain and loss, but the great terrain more than compensates for the effort. From falls along Kings Creek to the fleeting beauty of Corral Meadow, you’ll find plenty of satisfaction along this route. Begin on the trail leading to Kings Creek Falls, hiking along the northern edge of the Lower Meadow and staying left at the intersection with the trail to Sifford Lake at 0.5 mile. An easy climb leads to the next trail junction; stay left on the signed Horse Trail. The Horse Trail passes overlooks with views down the Kings Creek drainage before it plunges back to the streamside. At the trail junctions with the Cascades Trail and the trail to Sifford and Bench Lakes, stay left. The Kings Creek Falls overlook is at the 1.5mile mark. From the falls, the trail to Corral Meadow and Summit Lake breaks to the northeast, climbing over the ridge that separates Kings Creek from a nameless creek to the north. From here the route begins a long descent into the lower part of the Kings Creek drainage, tracing the path of the no-­name stream downhill at various pitches and weaving through dense woodlands for the most part. It is easy to follow, marked with yellow dots on the trees. As you near the bottom of the long descent, at about the 2.7-mile mark, cross a series of streamlets bordered by thick riparian growth, and skim the edge of a narrow but bountiful meadow. At the 3.8-mile mark, reach the confluence of the no-­name stream and Kings Creek, which is broad and vigorous. Do not cross Kings Creek—the large logs that span the waterway look inviting but aren’t on the map, so to speak. Instead, turn left (north) and

88

cross the smaller creek on rocks. The narrow single track snakes through thick willow and riparian brush before a brief ascent deposits you back in the woodland. The junction with the trail to Summit Lake and Corral Meadow is at the 3.9-mile mark. Turn right (south) on the Corral Meadow Trail, which winds down to cross Kings Creek. Follow the path to the confluence of Summit and Kings Creeks, and then climb onto a hillside overlooking the now-­substantial waterway. The trail leads downhill to a clearTwo national monuments ing on the south bank of Kings Creek, which predated the establishment swells with the addition of the waters of Sumof the park: Cinder Cone mit Creek and the stream that drains the Grassy National Monument and Lassen Peak National Monument. Swale. Follow the trail south along Kings Creek to the Corral Meadow sign at 4.6 miles. The meadow is a narrow, boggy strip of grassland— it appears the forest is creeping in on all sides, staking its claim to this fertile ground. The trail, now part of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), is a wet dirt ribbon through the grasses and wildflowers, crossing narrow rivulets via strategically scattered logs and rocks. Pick a spot for lunch, if the bugs permit, then return as you came.

Kings Creek in the backcountry, flowing toward Corral Meadow.

HIKE 16 Kings Creek Falls to Corral Meadow 89

To Southwest Entrance

Upper Meadow

16

Lower Meadow

Cliff Lake

o rd

if

Lakes

Cl

89

Sifford Lake

fs

H ot S p r i n g s Cre ek

S i ff

Cataracts

Kings Creek Falls

KINGS CREEK FALLS TO CORRAL MEADOW

Bench Lake

Devils Kitchen

K

s ing

Cr

eek

To Drake Lake

To Summit Lake and Manzanita Lake Entrance Station

it

S um C

Corral Meadow

ree k P

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Mile

AT

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FL

IRO

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FR 312

Warner Valley Campground

RID

k

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Kings Cre e

Kilometer

ail est Tr c Cr cifi a P

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0 1

To Kelly Camp

To Twin Lakes

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Kings Creek Falls Trailhead. 0.5 Reach the trail intersection in the Lower Meadow and go left on the signed path for

Kings Creek Falls. 0.7 At the junction with the one-­way Cascades Trail and the Horse Trail, go left on the

Horse Trail. 1.25 The Horse Trail meets the bottom of the Cascades Trail next to the creek. Go left. 1.4 Pass the signed trail to Sifford and Bench Lakes. Stay left toward Kings Creek Falls. 1.5 Arrive at Kings Creek Falls. Take in the view from the overlook, and then backtrack

to the trail that climbs up and away from the falls. 2.3 The trail crests the ridge between the Kings Creek drainage and the neighboring

drainage. Begin a long descent. 2.7 Cross the last of a series of streamlets. 3.8 Reach the confluence of the no-­name creek and Kings Creek at the bottom of the

valley. Go left, rock-­hopping across the no-­name creek and threading through a willow thicket. 3.9 At the intersection with the trail to Summit Lake, stay right on the trail signed for

Corral Meadow. 4.6 Reach Corral Meadow. This is the turnaround; retrace your steps from here. 9.2 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Options: Turn this into a longer loop by circling back up to Kings Creek Falls Trailhead via Sifford Lake. To continue on the loop from the meadow, stay right (south) on the PCT, avoiding the overgrown path that leads left (southeast) to Kelly Camp. The PCT climbs up onto Flatiron Ridge; it flattens briefly on the ridge and then dives through the forest on the south side. The pitch eventually mellows, and the trail is fairly flat as it approaches the next trail crossing at about 5.8 miles, near the north rim of the Warner Valley. From this trail crossing, the Lower Meadow of Kings Creek is about 3.6 miles to the right (northwest and uphill). If you’ve arranged for a shuttle to pick you up at the Warner Valley Campground, you can continue on the PCT, which heads straight (left; south) and steeply downhill for 1 mile to that trailhead. To continue the loop, turn right (west), drop through a gully, then begin the long slog upward. The trail is never torturously steep, but it follows a steady incline along the northern wall of the Warner Valley. Though mostly wooded, the trail breaks out of the forest onto a slope covered with low-­growing mountain chaparral, where the views will delight. To the south are the rolling, forested slopes of Sifford Mountain; to the west lie the Warner Valley and the barren upper reaches of the park. Chaparral gives way to stony benches supporting a sparse forest of Jeffrey pine. At about 7.5 miles, at the signed junction with the trail that leads right (west) to Bench Lake and left (southwest) to Sifford Lake, take the left fork toward Sifford Lake. At the next intersection you can turn left (south) on the spur trail that leads to Sifford Lake (a highly recommended side trip that will add a scant 1 mile round-­trip). Otherwise, continue up and northwest to the Kings Creek Trailhead. The footpath leads over benches to the south edge of the Lower Meadow, where you meet the trail leading down to Kings Creek Falls. It’s another 0.5 mile left (west), along the north side of the meadow to the trailhead. Total mileage for the loop, including the side trip to Sifford Lake, is about 9.6 miles.

HIKE 16 Kings Creek Falls to Corral Meadow 91

17 KINGS CREEK FALLS TO SUMMIT LAKE WHY GO?

This backcountry route rambles past Kings Creek Falls and then climbs through the Summit Creek drainage to picturesque Summit Lake. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; shuttle Distance: 5.6 miles Hiking time: 4–5 hours Difficulty: Moderate Best season: Midsummer through fall Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA Trailhead amenities: Parking is available in pullouts along the Lassen

Volcanic National Park Highway (CA 89); no other facilities available. There are abundant amenities at the Summit Lake endpoint, including restrooms, picnic areas, water, campsites and picnic sites, and a ranger station.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD The trailhead is located on the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway about 15.5 miles southeast of the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station and 12.5 miles northeast of the Southwest Entrance Station. It is on the southeast side of the highway. GPS: N40 27.642' / W121 27.564'

THE HIKE

Kings Creek Falls, with all its vigor and noise, enlivens the outset of this hike, but the mood has changed by the time you reach Summit Lake. Here, after nearly 4 miles of walking along secluded streams clothed in colorful riparian vegetation, the setting is campground mellow. The hike is described starting at Kings Creek but can be traveled in either direction (or done as an out-­and-­back trek). It ends with a climb regardless. Full disclosure: I found the climbing more moderate in the Summit Creek drainage, and I tend to choose the easy way up. The trail begins by dropping from the Kings Creek Falls Trailhead into the Lower Meadow. Skirt the north side of the meadow to the intersection with the trail to Sifford Lake at 0.5 mile. An easy climb leads to the next trail junction; stay left on the signed Horse Trail. The Horse Trail passes overlooks with views down the Kings Creek valley, and then plunges into the creek drainage. Stay left at streamside trail junctions with the bottom of the one-­way Cascades Trail and the trail to Sifford and Bench Lakes. The Kings Creek Falls overlook is at the 1.5-mile mark. Visit the falls overlook, then take the upper trail, which leads northeast and away from the falls toward Summit Lake and Corral Meadow. The route climbs over a divide and drops into the cradle of a no-­name creek north of Kings Creek. A long descent through dense woodlands, across spring-­fed streamlets, and alongside small meadows deposits you in the lower Kings Creek drainage. Though

92

Meadow and stream; a Lassen theme.

it sees relatively little traffic, the footpath is easy to follow and marked with yellow dots on the trees. At 3.8 miles reach the confluence of the no-­name stream and Kings Creek. Do not cross Kings Creek; instead turn left (north) and cross the smaller waterway, following the overgrown track through a willow thicket to the junction with the trail to Summit Lake The Lassen Park Ski Area and Corral Meadow at 3.9 miles. Turn left was shuttered in the early (north) on the trail to Summit Lake, which lies 1990s as part of a movement 1.7 miles ahead. to return the park to a more “natural” state. Summit Creek rumbles out of sight as the trail ascends steadily, but not brutally, toward Summit Lake. The path flattens as it crosses a tributary stream into a thicket of willow and alder and then continues ascending. Cross the stream again via a split-­log bridge and continue up, with the waterway rumbling alongside. Climb onto a bench littered with pinemat manzanita; the trail curves in a more northwesterly direction and crosses a narrow meadow. At about 4.3 miles the friendly little stream disappears. You won’t miss a liquid companion for long, however. Climb up and over the next bench, and the trail approaches a second tributary feeding Summit Creek. Cross the stream and switchback north into the woods, arcing up along the path of the ephemeral

HIKE 17 Kings Creek Falls to Summit Lake 93

To Southwest Entrance

Upper Meadow

17

Horse Trail

Cataracts

Kings Creek Falls

Cl

if

To Sifford Lake

Lower Meadow

Cliff Lake

To Bench Lake

La s s en Nationa l Pa r

89

gs Kin

k Hi ghw ay

Cr

To Manzanita Lake Entrance Station

ek

e

KINGS CREEK FALLS TO SUMMIT LAKE

Summit Lake South Campground

Summit Lake

it

C

To Warner Valley

Corral Meadow

0

Gr

0

as s

il ra tT

Mile

Kilometer

al e y Sw

cC re s

ifi

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Pa c

Su mm

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Kings

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e ek To Kelly Camp

Cr

1

To Twin Lakes

waterway. The gradual ascent leads through a forest of huge firs and then drops into a steep gully, climbing out on a traverse along its northern flank. As you approach Summit Lake, pass through lovely meadows thick with wildflowers in late spring and summer, and separated from one another by narrow strips of evergreens. The trail ends in Summit Lake South Campground. One trailhead, with an informational board, lies north on the paved loop road; the Summit Lake Ranger Station is about 0.5 mile farther north. Arrange to have your shuttle pack a picnic to share on the shores of Summit Lake, where you can enjoy great views of Lassen Peak as you cool your feet in the calming waters. Or, if you must, return as you came.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Kings Creek Falls Trailhead. 0.5 Reach the intersection with the trail to Sifford Lake in the Lower Meadow; go left on

the signed path for Kings Creek Falls. 0.7 At the junction with the one-­way Cascades Trail and the Horse Trail, go left on the

Horse Trail. 1.25 The Horse Trail meets the bottom of the Cascades Trail next to the creek. Go left. 1.4 Pass the signed trail to Sifford and Bench Lakes. Stay left toward Kings Creek Falls. 1.5 Arrive at Kings Creek Falls. Take in the view from the overlook, and then continue on

the trail, which heads up and northeast. 2.3 The trail crests the ridge between the Kings Creek drainage and the neighboring

drainage. Begin a long descent. 2.7 Cross the last of a series of streamlets. 3.8 Reach the confluence of the no-­name creek and Kings Creek at the bottom of the

valley. Go left, rock-­hopping across the no-­name creek and threading through a willow thicket. 3.9 At the intersection with the trails to Summit Lake and Corral Meadow stay left,

heading uphill toward Summit Lake. 5.6 Arrive at trail’s end at the Summit Lake South Campground, on the shore of Summit

Lake.

HIKE 17 Kings Creek Falls to Summit Lake 95

Summit Lake If you seek family fun a bit farther afield than busy Manzanita Lake, Summit Lake is the ideal choice. This pretty lake, at an elevation of nearly 6,700 feet, is surrounded by a red fir forest that shelters its campgrounds and picnic sites from the summer sun. From the lake’s eastern shore, the snowy heights of Lassen Peak dominate the horizon, with Reading Peak spilling to the southwest. To the north, trails crossing the forested slopes of flat-­topped Hat Mountain serve as gateways to the backcountry.

Hat Mountain rises above the shores of Summit Lake.

96

Summit Lake is arguably the park’s friendliest swimming lake, its waters cool and inviting when the sun burns strongly. Those not willing to take the dive can ply the waters in inflatable rafts, canoes, or kayaks (no motorized watercraft permitted). Others can wade in the shallows, fishing rods in hand, visions of catching the “big one” circling, circling . . . The backcountry north of Summit Lake is dotted with other lakes—Echo, Upper and Lower Twin, Little and Big Bear, Silver, Feather, and more. These lakes are reached via long tracks that can serve as the foundations for day hikes or backpacking journeys.With a good trail map, you can customize your hike and fashion links to other popular destinations, including Kings Creek and Snag Lake. Although the trail leading to the Twin Lakes and Snag Lake is mostly outside the 2012 Reading Fire burn area, the trail to Little and Big Bear Lakes runs directly through the fire zone. The blaze left fallen trees, a lack of trail signage, and inhospitable trail surfaces in its Peter Lassen, blacksmith, immediate wake. The area is well into recovery, gold seeker, and trailblazer, but overnight camping in the burn scar can be was murdered in 1859 sketchy given the potential for widowmakers (fallwhile prospecting outside ing trees). of Susanville, reportedly by a Native American. Overnight camping is permitted near most backcountry lakes, with the exception of Echo Lake. Please adhere to backcountry regulations, camping in established sites well away from water sources, and leave no trace. No potable water sources exist in the backcountry, so either pack in all the water you will need or purify water from lakes or streams by boiling it, filtering it, or treating it with chemicals or ultraviolet light. Given Summit Lake’s many attractions, its two campgrounds fill quickly in summer. The North and South campgrounds offer a total of 94 sites. Amenities include restrooms, fire rings, bear-­proof food storage cabinets, and ranger-­led programs in the amphitheater. Stays at Summit Lake are limited to seven days per year. Some sites are available on a first-­ come, first-­served basis while others, both north and south, require reservations. To reach Summit Lake from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for about 12 miles. The turnoff to the Summit Lake Ranger Station and trailhead is 0.1 mile before (northwest of) the turnoff for the campgrounds. The lake, campgrounds, and ranger station are on the left (east) side of the park highway. From the Southwest Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for about 16 miles to the Summit Lake campgrounds and the Summit Lake Ranger station.

SUMMIT LAKE 97

18 SUMMIT LAKE WHY GO?

This pleasant short hike features gorgeous views of Lassen Peak. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; lollipop loop Distance: 1.8 miles Hiking time: About 1 hour Difficulty: Easy Best season: Late spring to early fall Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA Special considerations: The route along the western shore of the lake follows informal paths through shoreline grasses. You can’t get lost,

but you might pick a path that dead-­ ends at the lakeshore. No worries; backtrack and pick another path to continue the circuit. Trailhead amenities: Facilities in the Summit Lake area include parking, campgrounds, restrooms, water sources, a ranger station, and picnic facilities.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD To reach the trailhead at the Summit Lake Ranger Station from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for 12 miles to the turnoff, which is on the left (north) side of the highway. From the Southwest Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for 16 miles to the turnoff for the Summit Lake Ranger Station. There is parking for about twenty cars at the trailhead. GPS: N40 29.885' / W121 25.619'

THE HIKE

Perhaps it’s early morning: The summer sun hasn’t yet cleared the treetops, breakfast lies heavy in your belly, and you feel the need to stretch your legs before rigging up the fishing gear or climbing into the kayak. Or perhaps it’s midday:You’ve just arrived in the park and want to walk off the stiffness of the car ride. Or perhaps it’s evening: The sun, not quite settled below the western horizon, paints Lassen Peak with alpenglow, and you want a nice walk before you settle at the campfire. Regardless of the time or motivation, the short loop trail around Summit Lake is easy and inviting. If you are camping on the lake, you can jump on the loop at any point. For those without a campsite, the route is described from the Summit Lake Ranger Station trailhead. To begin, pass the information kiosk and walk across a boardwalk that leads east through a marshy area. Roll through the shallow gullies to the intersection with an informal trail that leads into the Summit Lake North Campground at 0.3 mile. Stay left (north) and hike over the next hummock. The camp is visible through the trees to the right, and then the lake itself comes into view through the trees. Drop to the intersection with the lakeside loop and go left (northeast) to circle the lake in a clockwise direction. The intersection with the trail that leads left (northeast) to Echo Lake and into the backcountry is at 0.5 mile. Stay right (south) on the lakeside path. The views of Lassen Peak are picture perfect along this stretch of shoreline. At the signed trail intersection at 0.7 mile, go left (up and east) to visit the amphitheater or right (down and east) to continue around the lake. The amphitheater is small

98

E a st F ork Ha

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Trailhead

89

To Manzanita Lake

18

Dersch Meadows

To Southwest Entrance Station

Summit Lake North Campground

SUMMIT LAKE

n Nation al Pa Lasse rk Highway

Amphitheater

To Corral Meadow

Trailhead

Summit Lake South Campground

Summit Lake

0 Mile

Kilometer

To Little and Big Bear Lakes

0

Echo Lake

0.5 0.5

To Twin Lakes

The summit of Lassen Peak peeks over the treetops at Summit Lake.

and rustic, with bare wooden benches, but it has a remarkable setting with commanding views of the volcano and the lake spread at its feet. Back on the lakeside trail, cross a boardwalk spanning the outlet stream near the Summit Lake South Campground’s C Loop at 0.9 mile. The formal trail ends here.You can return as you came or wander along the often-­soggy informal trails that hug the lake’s shoreline to the picnic area on the west side of the lake. Stay lakeside as you pass through the picnic area, then follow the camp road through the north campground’s B Loop to pick up the boardwalk that leads back to the intersection with the trail to the Summit Lake Ranger Station at 1.25 miles. From here, retrace your steps to the trailhead.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Summit Lake Ranger Station trailhead, crossing the boardwalk through

the meadow. 0.3 Stay left at the junction with the side trail to the Summit Lake North Campground. 0.5 At the junction with the trail leading to Echo Lake, stay right on the lakeside path. 0.7 Reach the amphitheater access trail. Stay right to continue the circuit. 0.9 Reach the Summit Lake South Campground; stay lakeside on social trails to con-

tinue the loop. 1.2 Arrive at the Summit Lake North Campground. Follow the campground road

through the B Loop to the boardwalk linking back to the lakeside trail. 1.25 Turn left onto the lakeside trail and retrace your steps. 1.8 Arrive back at the trailhead.

100 Summit Lake

19 ECHO LAKE WHY GO?

A pleasant up-­and-­down trail leads to an inviting backcountry lake. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 4.6 miles Hiking time: 3–4 hours Difficulty: Moderate Best season: Midsummer through early fall Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA

Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, trash cans, information signboards, a ranger station. Additional facilities are available at nearby Summit Lake, including campgrounds, restrooms, water sources, and picnic facilities.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for 12 miles to the turnoff for the Summit Lake Ranger Station, which is on the left (north) side of the highway. The trailhead parking area is 0.1 mile north of the park highway. From the Southwest Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for about 16 miles to the turnoff for the Summit Lake Ranger Station. GPS: N40 29.885' / W121 25.619'

Clear shallow water along the shore of Echo Lake invites hikers to rest, wade, and swim if the weather permits.

101

Echo Lake is both a destination for day hikers and a pit stop for backpackers.

THE HIKE

Echo Lake is one of a series of lovely backcountry lakes reached via the trail that leads northeast from the developed areas around Summit Lake. While this little tarn is a relatively easy day hike from the trailhead or the Summit Lake campgrounds, it also can serve as the first stop in a longer day hike—or overnight trip—into the northern backcountry of the park. The waters of Echo Lake are clear in the shallows and fade to deep green. Thick forest drops to the waterline and hugs the walls of the basin. Narrow strips of rocky shoreline offer respite, and the still waters are perfect for cooling tired feet before carrying on to the Twin Lakes or beyond. Some folks hike up in their swimsuits, with the goal of taking a brisk plunge before heading back to camp at Summit Lake. No camping is permitted at Echo Lake. The trail is straightforward. It begins at the Summit Lake Ranger Station trailhead, crossing the boardwalk and rolling through a series of shallow drainages before linking up with the trail that circles Summit Lake at 0.4 mile. Stay left (east) to the next trail junction at 0.5 mile, then break to the left (northeast) and climb away from the lake under the shade of nicely spaced evergreens.

102 Summit Lake

E a st F ork Ha

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Trailhead

89

To Manzanita Lake

19

Dersch Meadows

To Southwest Entrance Station

Summit Lake North Campground

ECHO LAKE

k Highway

n Nation al Pa Lasse r

Amphitheater

To Corral Meadow

Trailhead

Summit Lake South Campground

Summit Lake

0 Mile

Kilometer

To Little and Big Bear Lakes

0

Echo Lake

0.5 0.5

To Twin Lakes

The forest opens as the trail ascends, and pinemat manzanita carpets the floor of the woodland. Glance southwest over your shoulder for spectacular views of Lassen Peak, which you’ll enjoy more easily on the return trip. After a steady climb onto a ridgetop (a shoulder of Hat Mountain), views of the park’s heavily wooded backcountry open. Ascend a switchback; then the trail flattens along the ridgetop. At the trail intersection at 1.5 miles, stay right (east) on the trail to Echo Lake, which lies 0.8 mile ahead. The trail to the left (north) leads to Little and Big Bear Lakes. A gentle, ascending traverse along the flanks of Hat Mountain leads through massive trees to a descent that begins easily and then steepens, running down east-­facing slopes. The brief downhill pitch is followed by a flat passage through the woods; Echo Lake flits in and out of view as you draw nearer, screened by the trees. A final short hop down some quick switchbacks lands you on Echo Lake’s secluded shores. Tarry here awhile, swimming and picnicking, then return as you came.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Summit Lake Ranger Station trailhead. 0.4 Arrive at Summit Lake; stay left. 0.5 Reach the intersection with the trail to Echo Lake. Again, stay left, climbing away

from the lake. 1.5 Reach the trail intersection on the ridgetop. Stay right on the signed path to Echo

Lake. (The left-­hand route leads to Little and Big Bear Lakes.) 2.3 Arrive at Echo Lake. Have a swim or a picnic before retracing your steps. 4.6 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Options: The trail continues from Echo Lake to its nearest neighbors, Upper and Lower Twin Lakes. This is also part of the Cluster Lakes Loop, which circles through the backcountry, touching the shorelines of several remote lakes before returning to the Summit Lake Trailhead.

104 Summit Lake

20 UPPER AND LOWER TWIN LAKES WHY GO?

The Twin Lakes lie at the center of Lassen Volcanic National Park, serving as both a delightful destination and a hub from which you can reach Snag Lake, Butte Lake, and other destinations in the backcountry. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike or backpack; out-­and-­back Distance: 8.0 miles to Upper Twin Lake; 9.0 miles to Lower Twin Lake Hiking time: 5–6 hours Difficulty: Moderate Best season: Late spring through fall Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA, West Prospect Peak CA, and Prospect Peak CA

Special considerations: Camping at the Twin Lakes is by permit only. Set up camp at least 100 feet from any water source or trail. Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, trash cans, information signboards, a ranger station. Additional facilities are available at nearby Summit Lake, including campgrounds, restrooms, water sources, and picnic facilities.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for 12 miles to the turnoff for the Summit Lake Ranger Station, which is on the left (north) side of the highway. The trailhead parking area is 0.1 mile north of the park highway. From the Southwest Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for about 16 miles to the turnoff for the Summit Lake Ranger Station. GPS: N40 29.885' / W121 25.619'

THE HIKE

These twins are connected by more than the narrow stream that flows from the upper to the lower lake like an umbilical cord. The Twin Lakes mirror each other in setting as well, each large and blue, with shoreline trails that trace the nuances of their shapes. Each sports a net of sun-­bleached logs along its northeast shore, offering a rather obvious clue to the direction of prevailing winds in the heart of Lassen Volcanic National Park. But as with many sets of twins, the two lakes are also very different. Upper Twin is quieter and has a more remote feel. Lower Twin Lake is the larger and, if you’ll pardon the anthropomorphism, a bit more gregarious. The trail encircling it offers links to other lakes and backcountry destinations, as well as to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). It is a hub: At some point on its shores you’ll likely meet hikers from Butte Lake, Juniper Lake, or farther afield. The trail begins at the Summit Lake Ranger Station trailhead. Roll through several shallow gullies before linking up with the trail around Summit Lake at 0.4 mile. Go left (east) on the Summit Lake Trail to the next trail intersection at 0.5 mile; a trail sign directs you left (northeast) toward Echo Lake, Twin Lakes, and other destinations in Lassen’s backcountry. 105

Clouds are reflected in the still waters of Upper Twin Lake.

The climb away from Summit Lake is steady. Negotiate a switchback, and then the trail flattens along a ridgetop. At the trail intersection at 1.5 miles, stay right on the route to Echo Lake and the Twin Lakes; the trail to Little and Big Bear Lakes leads left (north). After a bit more climbing, the trail makes a descending traverse to Echo Lake at 2.3 miles. This is a good place to rest and snack. To continue to Twin Lakes, follow the trail left (clockwise) around the northeastern shore of Echo Lake. At the northeast corner of the lake, the trail heads left and up (east), out of the basin.Yellow dots on the trees mark the route. The trail becomes a bit rougher as it drops into a gully at 2.6 miles. At the base of the first downhill pitch, pass a green lakelet on the right. Beyond, the path descends again, then flattens in the belly of the drainage. Pass a second nameless lake on your left (north), this one long and shallow. The trail traverses above its shoreline. A short climb leads away from the no-­name lake. The trail then follows switchbacks down through forest that has been grazed by the flames of the 2012 Reading Fire and reaches the edge of the Twin Lakes basin. Upper Twin Lake comes into view through the trees. Cross a seasonal stream (usually dry by midsummer), and arrive on the lakeshore at 4-mile mark. At the trail sign veer left (clockwise) around the lake. The path hugs the shoreline for a stretch, offering unobstructed views of blue water rumpled by whatever breeze stirs the alpine air. A raft of bleached driftwood marks the arc of Upper Twin Lake’s northeast corner. As it leaves Upper Twin Lake, the trail borders the narrow outlet stream that connects the two lakes. Follow the stream down to the shore of Lower Twin Lake at 4.5 miles.

106 Summit Lake

To Southwest Entrance

Lassen National Park Highway

Summit Lake North Campground

89

20

Dersch Meadows

To Manzanita Lake

Trailhead

Summit Lake South Campground

Summit Lake

To Corral Meadow

Hat Mountain 7,687 ft.

UPPER AND LOWER TWIN LAKES To Little and Big Bear Lakes

Echo Lake

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Lower Twin Lake

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Kilometer

To Corral Meadow

Upper Twin Lake

To Cluster Lakes

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0.5

Crater Butte

Swan Lake

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Tra rest ific C Pac

To Rainbow Lake

0.5

Small tarns appear off-­trail on the way to the Twin Lakes.

Fairfield Peak rises to the northeast, its cinders nourishing a healthy cloak of pine and fir; the close-­up views include iridescent dragonflies feeding on mosquitoes. From here you can hike to the Cinder Cone, Horseshoe Lake, or Snag Lake. Or you can complete a circuit of the lake before making the return trip. Or you can retrace your steps to the trailhead.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Summit Lake Ranger Station trailhead. 0.4 Arrive at Summit Lake; stay left. 0.5 Reach the intersection with the trail to Echo Lake. Stay left, climbing away from

Summit Lake. 1.5 Reach the trail intersection on the ridgetop. Stay right on the signed path to Echo

Lake. (The left-­hand route leads to Little and Big Bear Lakes.) 2.3 Arrive at Echo Lake. 2.6 Climb out of the Echo Lake drainage and begin to descend.

108 Summit Lake

3.0 Pass a no-­name lake on the right side of the trail. 3.5 Pass a second no-­name lake on the left side of the trail. 4.0 Reach Upper Twin Lake. Stay left along the lakeshore. 4.4 An isthmus bisected by a stream stitches Upper Twin to Lower Twin Lake. 4.5 Arrive at Lower Twin Lake. Take a break on the lakeshore, then retrace your steps.

(Option: You can complete a circuit of Lower Twin Lake before your return, which will add about 1 mile to your total hike.) 9.0 Arrive back at the Summit Lake Ranger Station trailhead.

Options: The Lower Twin Lake circuit trail, described in a counterclockwise direction, is a hub with trail spokes leading into all corners of Lassen’s backcountry. Most of the landmarks are trail intersections, and you will follow the PCT for a little more than 0.5 mile on the eastern shore of the lake.With a good map and an adventurous spirit, you can break away from the Lower Twin Lake circuit to visit any of the destinations mentioned. To begin the circuit, go right (east) from the trail intersection at the south end of the lake, crossing the inlet/outlet stream. At the next trail junction, a sign indicates that Swan Lake, Horseshoe Lake, and Corral Meadow lie to the right (south). Keep left (northeast), staying adjacent to the lakeshore on the PCT; this trail connects with trails to Cinder Cone and other points in the northeastern portion of the park. At about 5 miles, reach another trail intersection, where a right turn (as the sign indicates) leads to Rainbow Lake, Snag Lake, and Butte Lake. Stay left (north), following the signs toward the Cluster Lakes and Badger Flat. About 0.1 mile beyond, at the northern border of the lake, the circuit trail breaks off the PCT, veering left (west) and crossing the lake’s natural dike. A logjam of bleached deadfall abuts the dike, which is amply shaded with evergreens and offers a picnicking opportunity. Nice campsites are located along the eastern and northern shores of Lower Twin Lake. Be sure to pick a site well away from the water and trails. The circuit trail continues around the lake until it intersects the route by which you came, adjacent to the inlet/outlet stream.

HIKE 20 Upper and Lower Twin Lakes 109

21 LITTLE AND BIG BEAR LAKES WHY GO?

The Bear Lakes are outliers of the Cluster Lakes, which rest in the burn scar of the 2012 Reading Fire. The setting is haunting and unnerving, but well worth the experience. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 8.4 miles Hiking time: 5–6 hours Difficulty: Moderate Best season: Late spring through fall Maps: USGS Reading Peak and West Prospect Peak Special considerations: The potential for falling trees exists throughout the Reading Fire burn

scar, so overnight camping is not recommended. Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, trash cans, information signboards, a ranger station. Additional facilities are available at nearby Summit Lake, including campgrounds, restrooms, water sources, and picnic facilities.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for 12 miles to the turnoff for the Summit Lake Ranger Station, which is on the left (north) side of the highway. The trailhead parking area is 0.1 mile north of the park highway. From the Southwest Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for about 16 miles to the turnoff for the Summit Lake Ranger Station. GPS: N40 29.885' / W121 25.619'

THE HIKE

The trail to Little Bear and Big Bear Lakes begins like most other forest walks in Lassen. Mosey through a small meadow, skirt a lovely lake, climb through the woods onto the shoulder of a lesser peak with views of the namesake plug dome. It’s on the other side of the shoulder that things get a little wonky. The transition is what makes this hike so special, as “normal” forest gives way to mosaic burn, and finally to the standing dead and fallen skeletons of trees caught in the hottest part of a wildfire. The hike begins at the Summit Lake Ranger Station trailhead and follows the route leading to Echo Lake and the Twin Lakes at the outset—and that’s where most folks are headed. The route to the Bear Lakes is one less traveled. Roll through the forest to the shoreline of Summit Lake, then bear left alongside the lakeshore to the trail junction at 0.5 mile and head left again, toward Echo Lake, the Twin Lakes, the Cluster Lakes, and the Bear Lakes. Climb steadily onto the ridgetop and to the next trail crossing; at this point diverge to the left, heading toward the Bear Lakes (the trail to Echo Lake goes right). Make a traversing ascent to the apex of the broad, flat-­topped ridge below the east face of Hat Mountain.Views of Lassen Peak are behind you and easier to enjoy on the return trip. The woodland is open and littered with deadfall. If your timing is right, California

110

One pond sits in a green basin on the trail to Little and Big Bear Lakes.

tortoiseshell butterflies congregate here, blown up from the Central Valley, where they feast on nectar from flowering ceanothus, and into the mountains, where they feast on nectar from flowering manzanita. The incline moderates as you begin traversing the rolling top of the ridge. Here’s where you start to feel solitary on the landscape, dipping though swales with no vegetation in their bellies but bordered by insulating stands of evergreens and thickets of pinemat manzanita and wildflowers. A tarn cupping bottle green water lies in a depression in the lee of Hat Mountain, near the crest of the hike at about 2.4 miles. Beyond the small lake, the trail traverses several more swales. Here you can sense the mosaic, as burned conifers begin to mingle with green ones in a narrow belt of separation. Then the transformation is complete. You are in the burn zone. A horizon once obscured by forest is now exposed. The dead standing are silver and black and prick the sky; no foliage filters the sun or the views. Pass another depression cradling a small pond; depending on the light, the water appears tea-­colored, stained by ash and decay. The trail passes through a low gap just beyond the pond, and the rather steep descent to Little Bear Lake begins. Views open across the burned landscape and to a rocky (once forested) ridge. Take in the vistas, but also take care on the downhill, which is rocky and demands focus. Switchbacks make both the decline and ascent bearable, but watch your knees on the way down and your lungs on the way back up.

HIKE 21 Little and Big Bear Lakes  111

Kilometer

0

LITTLE AND BIG BEAR LAKES

0

0.5 0.5

Mile

Big Bear Lake

Little Bear Lake R ead i ng

Fire

B u rn

S ca r

Small tarn

Alpine tarn Hat Mountain 7,687 ft.

To Manzanita Lake

Dersch Meadows 21

89

Echo Lake

Summit Lake North Campground

Summit Lake Summit Lake South Campground

Lassen National Park Highway

To Southwest Entrance

Trailhead

To Corral Meadow

A second pond sits in the burn zone.

Back in the day, Little Bear Lake was surrounded by sun-­dappled evergreen forest. Now, the setting’s pretty much unfiltered sun and potential widowmakers. The beauty is stark and provocative. The lake remains clear, but breezes once caught in the surrounding woods now find it easier to wrinkle its surface. The trail skirts the eastern shore of the lake, then begins a short but rather steep descent to Big Bear Lake. Again, a shoreline once heavily forested is now more exposed. It also is less inviting than it once was; while the water’s edge is worth exploring and contemplating, the danger posed by falling trees is real, and even now, years after the fire, camping in the area is not recommended. Big Bear Lake is the turnaround point for the out-­and-­back journey, but you can make a long day hike around the Cluster Lakes Loop.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Summit Lake Ranger Station trailhead. 0.4 Arrive at Summit Lake. Head left on the lakeside trail. 0.5 Reach the intersection with the trail to Echo Lake. Stay left, climbing away from

Summit Lake. 1.5 Reach the trail intersection on the ridgetop. Stay on the left-­hand route, signed for

Little and Big Bear Lakes. The right-­hand route leads to Echo Lake. 2.4 Pass a small lake. 2.9 The path enters the mosaic burn. 3.1 Now in the heavy burn, pass a pond and descend through a gap. 3.7 Reach Little Bear Lake. 4.2 Reach Big Bear Lake. This is the turnaround. 8.4 Arrive back at the trailhead.

HIKE 21 Little and Big Bear Lakes  113

WILDFIRE In July 2012 lightning ignited a wildfire in the woodlands on the northeast slopes of Reading Peak. The blaze was contained one month later, having scorched more than 28,000 acres, nearly 17,000 of them within the boundaries of Lassen Volcanic National Park. In the wake of the fire, trails in the park’s northern backcountry, including the Cluster Lakes Loop and sections of the Nobles Emigrant Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, were closed. Hazards included falling trees, blocked routes, and voids where the roots of trees incinerated underground. Knowing winter snows would help settle things down and start the rejuvenation process, park officials kept the fire zone closed until the summer of 2013. I first ventured into the burn in August 2013, traveling north from Hat Lake on the Nobles Emigrant Trail. I knew the trail was wide enough and flat enough that I should be able to negotiate whatever the fire-­scarred landscape presented. What I encountered was stunningly eerie. The mosaic at the outset of the hike, with some trees scorched and others still green, is a relatively common sight in Lassen’s older fire scars—and in other areas of California’s mountains, where wildfires frequently erupt in summer and fall. Fire zones in various stages of recovery, some the result of controlled burns, can be seen on the trail to Chaos Lake, at Bathtub Lake, on the slopes of East Prospect Peak, around Snag Lake, and elsewhere. But in the Reading burn, the scene was entirely new to my senses. I walked from a healthy woodland into a foreign landscape; two miles in, I found myself standing in a ghost forest. The floor was uniformly gray and powdery, sterile and thick with ash. There was no sign of wildflowers or grasses—harbingers of rejuvenation. I could hear the knock of a woodpecker, but otherwise nothing

The Cluster Lakes basin lies in the heart of the Reading Fire burn scar.

Standing dead and standing tall against a moody Lassen sky.

flew, not bird or bug. Hat Creek was a thin green ribbon lacing through the firescape. The standing trees were blackened matchsticks, and the wind set them to creaking. I found myself on high alert, waiting for the dead to come crashing down. Then the route disappeared, lost in broken trees and unbroken ashfall. I was done; I turned around. I returned to that same stretch of trail a couple of years later, and by then nature was mending. The wind in the trees created a familiar rushing sound; no more creaking. Cicadas chirped and scattered underfoot. Orange and purple butterflies flitted from deadfall to greening bush . . . because there were

greening bushes and wildflowers to gather nectar from. Back again in 2018, seasoned by a wildfire that flashed within feet of my Wine Country home in 2017, I was relieved to see head-­high brush alongside the historic track and signs of people at work in the woods: tire tracks in the mud; deadfall cut and stacked off to the side of the trail. Firestorms, especially in these days, have become more common and more dreadful, especially in the wildland-­urban interface. But fire is a natural, critical element in California’s ecology. It’s supposed to be here. It’s something that foresters, biologists, and other wildland experts are learning to use and coming to appreciate. Back in 2013, dead wood in the Warner Valley stood in pyramidal pyres, slated for ignition as part of a controlled burn once the first snows fell. When all was said and done, the forest floor was mostly cleared of what essentially amounted to tinder and healthier for the effort. While climate change and a culture that promoted fire suppression have exacerbated wildfire danger throughout western forests, this paradigm shift—using fire to fight fire; allowing fires to burn when they don’t threaten human life and property— may mean the Warner Valley will be spared intense firestorms like those that ravaged the forest north of Hat Mountain, the city of Paradise, and the oak woodlands of the Sonoma Valley. When I was selecting a new hike to include in this version of the guidebook, I asked Lassen’s rangers for advice. I considered options outside the burn zone, but I was drawn to the Reading burn, where I could witness both the damage done and the recovery underway. Spending the night in the burn area was still not recommended: widowmakers. But a day hike to the Bear Lakes, where maps show the Reading Fire burned hottest, attracted me like the proverbial moth to a flame. I walked with the words of Maya Khosla, Sonoma County’s poet laureate and a wildlife biologist who researches fire recovery, circling in my head. On a hike with her in the Nuns Fire burn scar near my home, she listened for the birds, which are among the first to recolonize woodlands after wildfire. Khosla has spent seasons in Lassen doing research post-­Reading, and has documented increasing populations of the black-­backed woodpecker in the park. This bird, a candidate for inclusion on the endangered species list, thrives in the burn in numbers she believes are greater than anywhere else in California, numbers that are “phenomenal.” They share the burn with sapsuckers, warblers, Clark’s nutcrackers, hairy woodpeckers, and more. Khosla sees beauty in the burn, a landscape fecund, not ghostly. In her poem “Rejuvenation,” she writes: The living are awake to the growth and profusion soon to follow They will grow with the diligence of all known colors unfurling from the soil’s chocolatey darkness from the trees re-­greening come spring from the blackness. I walked like the living, and while that first vista of devastation took my breath away, I found colors unfurling in the butterflies and wildflowers, in the tawny shades of the water, in the rim of green around the shorelines, in the softening silvers of the dead standing. I was able to do something I couldn’t have fathomed back in 2013, when the Reading Fire was new, or in 2018, when the memories of my own fire flight were still raw. I was able to sit and stay, to listen and touch, to pause and reflect. And it was lovely. To learn more about how fuel loads in Lassen Volcanic National Park are mitigated, visit the fire management page at www​​.nps​​.gov/lavo/learn/ management/fire-­management​​.htm.

HONORABLE MENTIONS RAINBOW LAKE This small lake sits in its own secluded basin on the southern flanks of Fairfield Peak. It’s not the prettiest, the biggest, or the deepest lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park, but Rainbow Lake has an intangible and very inviting ambience. I’ve rested and refueled on its pleasant, secluded shores on several occasions, undisturbed by pests of any kind, including the ubiquitous mosquito.You might call it a “mother lake”—always there, always comfortable, always welcoming. Located about 5.5 miles one-­way from the Summit Lake Trailhead, Rainbow Lake is a likely candidate for a backpacking destination, and the perfect first stop on a backpack into the Butte and Snag Lakes region. The route begins at the Summit Lake Ranger Station, passing Summit Lake at 0.4 mile, Echo Lake at 2.3 miles, and both of the Twin Lakes. From the west shore of Lower Twin Lake, turn right (southeast) on a counterclockwise circuit of the lake to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Go left (northeast) on the PCT. The intersection with the marked trail that leads right (northeast) to Rainbow, Snag, and Butte Lakes is on the east shore of Lower Twin Lake. Turn right on the footpath to Rainbow Lake, climbing through open woodland sprinkled with wildflower meadows and scented with sage and pine. The trail flattens atop a shallow rise and then slopes gently downward, with the azure waters of Rainbow Lake shimmering through a lacy screen of trees.

The higher reaches of Lassen’s backcountry are patchworks of open space and woodlands.

Honorable Mentions 117

At about the 5.5-mile mark, a trail sign confirms your arrival. A soft mat of marsh grasses lines the lakeshore, and inviting campsites are tucked in the surrounding woodland. Enjoy your stay, whether for an hour or several days, then either return as you came or tie this trail into another to make a longer loop or shuttle hike.

CLUSTER LAKES LOOP Lakes, lakes, and more lakes. Big and small, deep and shallow, bottle green and reflective blue, the Cluster Lakes Loop (technically a lollipop) encompasses nearly a dozen bodies of water, not all with names, and some no larger than ponds. Silver Lake is the largest, its cool waters spreading south from the trail toward the wooded mesa that guards the eastern flanks of Hat Mountain. Feather Lake also lies at the foot of this broad, flat-­topped peak. Tie these two in with Summit Lake, the Twin Lakes, Echo Lake, and the Bear Lakes, and you’ll feel downright soggy. At more than 13 miles, this loop makes for a challenging day hike. An overnight stay mitigates the length. Lower Twin Lake is the most likely candidate for an overnight, but campsites were plentiful near many of the lakes prior to the 2012 Reading Fire. Check with park rangers (you must get a permit, after all) about safe campsites at other lakes in the burn scar. Trails connecting to other areas of the park intersect the route at Lower Twin Lake, so you can branch off to another destination or trailhead if you choose. The loop is described here in a counterclockwise direction, starting at the Summit Lake Ranger Station trailhead. Roll through several gullies to the intersection with the trail that leads around Summit Lake at 0.4 mile. Go left (east) to the next trail intersection at 0.5 mile; a sign directs you left (northeast) toward Echo Lake and the Twin Lakes. From Summit Lake the trail climbs steadily to a ridgetop trail intersection at 1.5 miles. Go right (east) on the trail to Echo Lake and the Twin Lakes. (The trail to Little and Big Bear Lakes leads left and north; this is the return route.) Arrive at Echo Lake at 2.3 miles. The trail to the Twin Lakes heads left and up (east), out of the Echo Lake basin, and then descends through a drainage, passing a small pond on the south side of the trail and a nameless lake on the north side. Reach Upper Twin Lake at about the 4-mile mark; Lower Twin Lake is at 4.5 miles. Bear right onto the circuit trail around Lower Twin Lake, staying left at the next trail junction to merge onto the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and then left again at the junction with the trail to Rainbow and Snag Lakes. Remain right (northbound) on the PCT when the circuit trail bends left to cross the dike at the northern end of Lower Twin Lake. At about 5.6 miles reach the intersection with the trail that heads left (west) to Feather and Silver Lakes. The PCT continues north to Badger Flat, then out of the park and on to Canada. The next few miles lead through the Reading burn scar. Though the climb is never arduous, it is steady and unbroken until the trail reaches Feather Lake at about 6.3 miles. The trail rims the northern edge of this lake; a gray-­rock rampart hovers over the lake’s south side. Climb out of the Feather Lake basin, cross a windblown ridge, and then drop in on Silver Lake. The setting is similar to that of Feather Lake, peaceful and remote.

118 Honorable Mentions

Gazing beyond the northwest-­facing slope of Hat Mountain, you can see the snowy heights of Lassen Peak, which has been hidden since the initial climb away from Summit Lake. The footpath traces the north shore of Silver Lake and proceeds to a trail intersection at about 7.4 miles. The Cluster Lakes Loop continues by taking the left-­hand (southwest) path toward the Bear Lakes; the right-­hand path leads to Badger Flat, near the northern border of the park. This section of the loop begins with a gentle climb to Big Bear Lake. The trail skirts the east shore of the lake; at the south corner, begin to climb up and south toward Little Bear Lake. This is the first serious ascent since you climbed away from Summit Lake, and it’s a harbinger of things to come—you’ve come many miles since the hike began, so pace yourself on the hills that follow. Top out (for a time) at Little Bear Lake at about 8.4 miles. Pass it by on the east shore, then begin the final leg of the loop. Another stiff climb leads out of the Little Bear Lake basin. Switchbacks mitigate the ascent, and the views become more and more gratifying as you gain altitude, with Lassen just visible over the crest of the ridge to the west. A pond marks the top of the climb. The footpath continues through a small gap, wanders through a winding gully, and rolls through a swale scoured of vegetation. This is also the edge of the burn; the forest becomes a mosaic, then is untouched as you pass a small, unnamed lake on the right (east) of the path. A brief uphill section leads to a roller-­coaster traverse of the flat-­topped ridge that spills from Hat Mountain. After a mile or so, the trail begins to drop in earnest, falling south off the ridge to its junction with the trail to Summit Lake. From here, retrace your steps to the trailhead at the Summit Lake Ranger Station.

If you time it right, you might share the trail with California tortoiseshell butterflies, vibrant creatures that ride the thermals to feast on manzanita nectar in late summer.

Honorable Mentions 119

SUMMIT LAKE TO CORRAL MEADOW This day hike, totaling about 5 miles round trip, leads down from Summit Lake to Corral Meadow and back. Kings Creek lies at the bottom of the upside-­down hike, which sees relatively little traffic and offers the kind of solitude most usually found deeper in the backcountry. The trail begins in the Summit Lake South Campground. Depending on the availability of parking, you may have to start from the Summit Lake Ranger Station. Regardless, you must follow the paved camp road to the southernmost point of the campground, where you’ll find the trailhead sign. Head south and gently downhill from the campground into a small chain of meadows thick with grasses and wildflowers. Narrow bands of trees separate one meadow from the next—or perhaps it’s more accurate to say the evergreens interrupt the flow of a bigger meadow. In his booklet Lassen’s The infant Summit Creek waters the lushness; this Place Names, former park is as close as you will get to the creek until you naturalist Paul Schulz says near its confluence with Kings Creek above Corthat a Frenchman named ral Meadow. Though the route traces the Summit George La Pie built a corral for his livestock at CorCreek drainage, and parallels and crosses several ral Meadow, resulting in tributary creeks as it descends, Summit Creek a moniker that stuck. The proper rests in the bed of the drainage that is east corral did not stick: No sign of the trail. remains of any man-­made structure in the meadow. Leave the meadow behind as the trail descends into forest and travels through a ravine. Beyond the gully, the route continues gently downhill, rolling over benches to a nameless stream, the first in a series that you must either flank or cross as you descend toward Corral Meadow. As you approach the bottom of the descent, the more substantial rumble of Summit Creek comes into earshot. At 1.7 miles reach an intersection: One trail leads right (southwest) to the Kings Creek Falls area and the other left (southeast) to Corral Meadow. Go left toward the meadow, crossing a tributary stream before making a more substantial crossing of Kings Creek near its confluence with Summit Creek. The path then parallels Kings Creek, climbing onto a hillside that offers a bird’s-­eye view of the creek. Drop to the bare earth of a clearing on the creek’s south bank, where a sign indicates that Corral Meadow lies just south. Continue to the narrow meadow, where forest creeps in on all sides. Bugs and moisture mostly rule out the meadow as a place to take a mid-­hike rest and snack, but the clearing at the edge of Kings Creek is a wonderful spot for such pleasures. Return as you came.

120 Honorable Mentions

Emigrant Pass and Hat Creek Just before midnight on May 19, 1915, as part of an eruptive cycle that kept Lassen Peak in the local and national headlines for a year, a huge mudflow swept down the mountain. Triggered when heat from within the volcano melted the snowpack on the mountain’s surface, the flow raged down the Lost Creek and Hat Creek drainages, taking out everything in its path and devastating several homesteads. Benjamin F. Loomis, who chronicled Lassen Peak’s eruption both in memorable pictures and in a booklet entitled Eruptions of Lassen Peak, surveyed the scene after the flood. “It is no exaggeration to say that the volume of water and mud in the two creeks must have been equal to that carried in the Sacramento River . . . at flood tide or high water mark,” Loomis wrote. The mudflow was followed by a second major event on May 22, 1915—an eruption of steam and ash known as the “Great Hot Blast.” The blast multiplied the damage done by the mud, decimating the remaining forest and leaving a moonscape in its wake. The blast also littered the peak’s lower skirts with superheated boulders, including the thirty-­ton Hot Rock, which stayed warm for up to a week after the eruption. These cataclysmic events forever altered the geography of Lassen Peak’s northeast slope, creating what’s now known as the Devastated Area. Today evergreens have staked claims among the jumbled pink boulders, but it is still clear that a force more awesome than most of us are likely to witness in our lifetimes reshaped the landscape.

Chaos reigns near Emigrant Pass, with jumbles and crags dominating the landscape and views.

121

The Hat Creek Trailhead lies on the eastern edge of the floodplain. Two routes depart from this trailhead, one leading south to Paradise Meadow and the other leading north along the Nobles Emigrant Trail toward the park’s boundary area. The Devastated Area Interpretive Trail offers a quick, on-­the-­ground overview of the forces that reshaped the surrounding terrain. To reach Emigrant Pass and the Devastated Area Interpretive Trail from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway about 9 miles to the parking area, which is on the left (east) side of the highway. The parking lot is 19 miles from the Southwest Entrance Station. The Hat Creek Trailhead is about 9.5 miles from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station and 18.5 miles from the Southwest Entrance Station.

122 Emigrant Pass and Hat Creek

22 PARADISE MEADOW WHY GO?

Paradise Meadow is premier within the park—thick with wildflowers, watered by a meandering stream, and rimmed by steep volcanic cliffs. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 3.2 miles Hiking time: 2–3 hours Difficulty: Moderate, though steep Best season: Midsummer through fall Maps: USGS West Prospect Peak CA and Reading Peak CA

Trailhead amenities: A small parking area. The nearest restrooms are located 0.5 mile north on the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway at the Devastated Area Interpretive Trailhead.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for 9 miles to the parking area, which is on the left (north) side of the highway. The trailhead is 19 miles from the Southwest Entrance Station. GPS: N40 30.563' / W121 27.904'

THE HIKE

What’s in a name? You look on a map and see a lake called Sapphire or a ridge called Sawtooth, and you pretty much know what you’re going to find when you get there. But Paradise Meadow? Paradise, really? The truth is, this meadow is extraordinary. I’ve seen some stunning meadows in my day, but this one takes my breath away. Set in a steep-­walled cirque—a glacial feature in an otherwise volcanic environment—the meadow is soft and lush, and the stream that meanders through it purrs. In midsummer the wildflowers bloom in profusion, painting purple, white, and yellow streaks on the vivid greenery. By late August the flowers have A stiff climb along a tributary of West Fork Hat Creek ends in lovely Paradise Meadow.

123

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PARADISE MEADOW

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1

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To Manzanita Lake Entrance Station

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Nobles Emigrant Trail

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Hat Lake

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Reading Peak 8,714 ft.

begun to fade, but the grasses burnish an autumnal gold and shimmer when the wind combs through. Do I tend toward hyperbole? Yep. But I wouldn’t hesitate to call this meadow Paradise. The hike begins across the park highway from the parking area. The path is wide and flat to start, nicely shaded, with Lassen Peak looming above and Hat Creek rollicking in its bed. The site of Hat Lake also lies to the right (west) of the trail. The lake has been pretty much filled with meadow grasses, and Hat Creek flows through, so it remains a tempting roadside attraction. The stream that helps water Paradise Meadow The route begins to climb almost spills into Hat Creek downstream. immediately, passing through dips that may hold water early in the season and bordered with a thick, unruly hedge of willow, mule’s ear, and other riparian plants. Yellow dots on the trees denote the route. At about the 0.5-mile mark, climb into a narrowing ravine that cradles a tributary of the West Fork Hat Creek. Stream crossings are made via small footbridges until the path settles in beside a sweet cataract. Cross another tributary stream; the trail then steepens abruptly, with the cataract growing larger and louder as the pitch increases. The trees thin and the walls of the ravine open as the stream tumbles over a set of short, frothy falls. Here, thankfully, the angle of the climb becomes almost flat. Pass the trail leading up to Terrace Lake at 1.5 miles, staying left (straight) toward Paradise Meadow. A short passage through a stand of firs and . . . it opens before you. Paintbrush, clover, penstemon, lupine, and gentian add depth to the grasses that stretch across the bowl. The path trickles to an end; step carefully, for the ground is uneven beneath its green carpet. The stream loses its steam as it meanders, becoming a thick-­ banked snake that can be straddled or waded through easily. At the head of the meadow, talus lines the base of the cliff that forms the southern horizon, creating a dark contrast to the light of the meadow. Bring the kids, bring the grandparents, and bring a picnic. And don’t forget the bug juice! When you wish, return as you came.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Hat Creek Trailhead. 1.5 At the junction with the trail leading up to Terrace Lake, stay left (straight) on the

path to Paradise Meadow. 1.6 Reach Paradise Meadow. Take a break, and then retrace your steps. 3.2 Arrive back at the trailhead.

HIKE 22 Paradise Meadow 125

23 HAT LAKE TO TERRACE LAKE WHY GO?

Climb past a tumbling cataract to a spectacular meadow, then up to a small lake poised at the edge of a high basin. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back or shuttle Distance: 7.4 miles Hiking time: 5­–6 hours Difficulty: Strenuous Best season: Midsummer through fall Maps: USGS West Prospect Peak CA and Reading Peak CA

Trailhead amenities: Small parking area. The nearest restrooms are located 0.5 mile north on the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway at the Devastated Area Interpretive Trailhead.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for 9 miles to the parking area, which is on the left (north) side of the highway. The trailhead is 19 miles from the Southwest Entrance Station. GPS: N40 30.563' / W121 27.904'

A lovely trail bordered by spreads of silverleaf lupine and featuring wonderful views links Paradise Meadow with Terrace Lake.

126

Hat Creek tumbles over a cataract along the trail to Paradise Meadow and Terrace Lake.

THE HIKE

It’s a stiff climb, but this trail connects two of the prettiest places in Lassen Volcanic National Park’s high country. Paradise Meadow, a glorious spread of lush grass and colorful wildflowers, lies a bit below the halfway point of the ascent; it’s a wonderful place to rest and regroup. From the meadow, steep climbing leads onto the rolling benches of Lassen’s upper reaches, where little Terrace Lake perches in a shallow bowl. The trail begins on the flats alongside the West Fork Hat Creek but begins to climb almost immediately, passing first through dense riparian flora and then into a shady evergreen forest. The route is marked with yellow dots on the trees. By the 0.5-mile mark, the trail is climbing through a narrowing ravine that cradles a tributary of the West Fork Hat Creek. Small footbridges span this stream and others that follow, all of which feed the tumbling cataract that parallels the trail. As the trail grows steeper, the creek grows more energetic. The pitch of the trail moderates as it approaches Paradise Meadow, passing a short waterfall shaded by a thinning forest. Pass the trail that breaks right, across the Hat Creek tributary, staying left on the path to Paradise Meadow, which is at 1.6 miles. The broad grassland, rimmed by dacite cliffs, is the perfect place to refuel—in spirit and perhaps with an apple or a handful of gorp. To continue to Terrace Lake, retrace your steps to the trail junction just before the meadow and cross the bridge over the creek. The route climbs steeply out of the drainage

HIKE 23 Hat Lake to Terrace Lake 127

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Terrace Lake

Shadow Lake Cliff Lake

Trailhead 89

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Reading Peak 8,714 ft.

and away from the meadow. This section of the ascent can be boggy, but it offers wonderful views to the northeast of the Prospect Peaks. Switchbacks lead up into widely spaced trees; yellow dots mark the route. Climb atop the first of a series of benches, where the terrain morphs into that more typical of the high country: The hemlocks and pines are stooped by the winds and winter snows, and shallow swales wear a thin veil of silverleaf lupine. The steep slopes of the east face of Lassen Peak loom to the west, tantalizingly close and insurmountable. Roll up and over the benches, looping in and out of the swales and through stands of timber. Broad switchbacks lead to the junction with the trail to Terrace Lake at 3.4 miles. Turn sharply left (east) on the trail to Terrace Lake. If you go right (up and southwest), you will reach the Terrace Lake Trailhead on the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway (the end of the line if you’ve arranged a shuttle). The trail to Terrace Lake dives into a ravine, then bottoms out in a meadow that spreads from the shores of the shallow lake on the east to a spill of talus on the west. The lake, clear and inviting, sits at the edge of its basin like a child perched on the edge of a seat, straining to see something in the distance. It’s a lovely spot at which to end a day’s climb. Return as you came.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Hat Creek Trailhead. 1.5 Reach the junction with the trail leading up to Terrace Lake. Stay left (straight) on

the path to Paradise Meadow. 1.6 Arrive at Paradise Meadow. Enjoy, then retrace your steps to the trail junction and

turn left, crossing the stream and beginning to climb again. 3.4 Reach the junction with the trail to Terrace Lake; turn left. 3.7 Rest on the shores of Terrace Lake. If you haven’t arranged for a shuttle, retrace

your steps. 7.4 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Option: If you arrange a shuttle, you can combine this trail with the trail that leads from Terrace Lake down to Summit Lake, allowing visits to Shadow and Cliff Lakes on the descent. The distance from Terrace Lake to the Summit Lake Ranger Station is 3.8 miles, making the trip total 7.5 miles.

HIKE 23 Hat Lake to Terrace Lake 129

24 NOBLES EMIGRANT TRAIL AT HAT CREEK WHY GO?

This section of the historic trail used by emigrants to Northern California in the mid-1800s leads into the 2012 Reading Fire burn zone. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 5.8 miles Hiking time: 3–4 hours Difficulty: Easy Best season: Late spring through fall Maps: USGS West Prospect Peak CA

Trailhead amenities: Small roadside parking area. The nearest restrooms are located 0.5 mile north of the Hat Creek parking area at the Devastated Area Interpretive Trail parking area.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for 9 miles to the parking pullout, which is on the left (north) side of the highway, just beyond the more formal parking lot for the Hat Creek Trailhead. The trailhead is 19 miles from the Southwest Entrance Station. A gate blocks the gravel road that serves as the trail. GPS: N40 30.647' / W121 27.768'

THE HIKE

The Nobles Emigrant Trail traverses the northern reaches of Lassen park, and though much of the historic path makes for enjoyable day hiking or backpacking, some sections are more inviting than others. The trail from Hat Lake north toward Badger Flat is one of those enjoyable sections, a delightful easy hike along an old migration route that delves into little-­visited regions of the park. The trail also passes through the burn zone of the 2012 Reading Fire, which incinerated thousands of wooded acres in the park’s backcountry. The area is rejuvenating and the transformation from nothing but ash to healthy forest habitat has been fascinating to witness. Begin at the Nobles Emigrant Trailhead, which is gated and just up and east of the formal Hat Creek Trailhead parking area. Pass the gate and head north on the gravel road that serves as the trailbed. Descend into woods grazed by the 2012 blaze, with some trees showing no signs of the fire’s passage, some toasted on a side, and others standing dead. Cross Hat Creek on a rusty metal bridge at the 0.5-mile mark; the trail continues downstream on Hat Creek’s west side. Weave through shady woodland showing a patchwork of fire damage, with Raker Peak sloping up on the west side and Hat Creek on the east. This is a walk-­and-­talk passage, relaxing and relatively undamaged. That changes as the trail enters a zone where the fire burned hot and hard. The transition is relatively gradual, with more blackened trees standing among the living, and the forest floor, once torched clear of downed wood and understory plants, now green with bunches of new grass, low shrubs, and clusters of wildflowers. In 2019, seven years post-­ burn, the heart of what was once a ghost forest showed all kinds of signs of life. The

130

Tall but not toppled: Standing snags still dominate the skyline in stretches along the Nobles Emigrant Trail.

sound of woodpeckers thrumming on deadwood and the occasional creaking of weakened trunks bending in the wind are still components of the soundscape, but so too are the calls of other birds and the buzz of insects. The track has been deepened by vehicles as foresters fell the more dangerous trees, exhausted matchsticks that add to the fuel load and potentially pose a hazard to hikers.

HIKE 24 Nobles Emigrant Trail at Hat Creek 131

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Devastated Area Interpretive Trail Trailhead

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Lassen National Park Highway To Summit Lake

As you approach the 3-mile mark, living trees again mingle with the dead. Hat Creek, which courses near the trail again, is buffered by a green strip of riparian plants and untouched evergreens. Where the trail forks at 2.8 miles, bear right onto the spur trail to a park utility structure, with the creek running behind. Drop down to a narrow strip of sandy beach that makes a perfect rest stop and turnaround point. Retrace your steps from here.

132 Emigrant Pass and Hat Creek

On the rebound: Brush, grass, and wildflowers thicken alongside the Nobles Emigrant Trail in the Reading Fire burn scar.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Nobles Emigrant Trailhead, passing the gate and trail sign. 0.5 Cross Hat Creek via a metal bridge. 2.5 Pass through an area badly damaged by the 2012 Reading Fire. 2.8 At the Y junction, take the spur path to the right, toward the utility structure. 2.9 Reach the banks of Hat Creek, which flows behind the utility shed. This is the turn-

around point; retrace your steps. 5.8 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Options: The Nobles Emigrant Trail continues north and meets the Pacific Crest Trail near the boundary of the park, then bends east to the Cinder Cone and Butte Lake. Check with park rangers about trail conditions in the backcountry, as hazards may include falling trees, unstable terrain, and burned-­out stump holes or root chambers. To continue, cross Hat Creek again; the trail folWilliam Nobles blazed the emigrant trail that bears his name lows the creek for a stretch beyond the crossin 1851; the route saved several ing, and the former roadway disintegrates to days’ travel over Peter Lassen’s doubletrack, a reminder that this was once a trail. The section in Lassen Volwagon trail. At about the 4-mile mark, the canic National Park was placed on the National Register of route climbs eastward and away from Hat Historic Places in 1975. Creek to its junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Head right on the merged PCT and Nobles Emigrant Trail, which continues (east) toward Badger Flat through rolling, fire-­damaged woodlands. At 6.1 miles arrive at Badger Flat, an open expanse of meadow from which you can catch sight of Lassen Peak. A trail intersection at the eastern end of the meadow points to other destinations within the park: You can continue south to the Cluster Lakes and Summit Lake, or hike eastward toward the Cinder Cone and Butte Lake. HIKE 24 Nobles Emigrant Trail at Hat Creek 133

25 DEVASTATED AREA INTERPRETIVE TRAIL WHY GO?

Short and sweet, this trail features solar-­powered interpretive stations describing the powerful volcanic forces that have shaped the terrain. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; lollipop Distance: 0.3 mile Hiking time: Less than 1 hour Difficulty: Easy

Best season: Late spring through late fall Maps: USGS West Prospect Peak CA Trailhead amenities: Ample parking, restrooms, picnic benches

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for 8.5 miles to the Emigrant Pass parking area, which is on the left (east) side of the highway. The parking lot is 19.5 miles from the Southwest Entrance Station. GPS: N40 30.942' / W121 27.905'

THE HIKE

Like the proverbial nutshell, the Devastated Area Interpretive Trail is a small, neat package encapsulating the Lassen Volcanic National Park experience. The path is wide and easy, interpretive signs describe volcanism’s effect on the surrounding terrain, and there

Interpretive signs and recordings describe the geology that shapes Lassen’s landscapes.

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Devastated Area Interpretive Trail

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Lassen National Park Highway To Summit Lake

are picture-­perfect views of Lassen Peak, making this an ideal choice for families, those unable or unwilling to take longer treks, or those who are short on time. The trail is wide and gently graded, sees a lot of traffic, and is lined with solar-­powered interpretive stations that play recorded messages about the geology and basic geography of the area. The stick part of the lollipop begins at the trailhead sign; after about 25 feet the pavement forks.You can travel in either direction around the loop, but most visitors stay left, traveling in a clockwise direction. HIKE 25 Devastated Area Interpretive Trail 135

The path wanders very gently upward through pink and gray lava rocks and sparse forest, with Lassen Peak, architect and wreaker of havoc, now calm and benevolent on the horizon. Signs and the spoken word describe the “Great Hot Blast” that blew from the peak, the different types of dacite that litter the forest floor, and the forces that color the rock. Within a short distance the trail veers eastward, circling back on itself. The black boulders that lie scattered among the fledgling trees are part of a dacite dome that was blasted out of the peak in the eruptions of late May 1915. I could say more, but the interpretive stations do a much better job of providing further insight into the area’s geology. A quick, easy switchback closes the loop. From here, retrace your steps to the trailhead.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Devastated Area Interpretive Trail trailhead. 0.3 Arrive back at the trailhead, completing the loop.

136 Emigrant Pass and Hat Creek

Manzanita Lake Manzanita Lake is the social center of Lassen Volcanic National Park. Though park administration—the brains, if you will—is headquartered in Mineral, and the polished Kohm Yah-­mah-­nee Visitor Center at the Southwest Entrance is inviting, most visitors get their introduction to Lassen at Manzanita Lake. It’s a spectacular first impression. The lake itself, dammed by the rubble of the eruptive forces that dominate its surroundings, is peaceful and calm. A walk along its shores in early morning encapsulates the contradiction: The lapping of glistening water against the still grasses along the banks is meditative; the jumbled pink hulks of the Chaos Crags and Lassen Peak, which rise above, are provocative and magnificent. The Jeffrey pine forest that envelopes the lake emanates permanence, while the barren summits of the peaks generate an impression of flux. To be soothed by water and challenged by mountains is, to me, basic to happiness, and this harmonizes beautifully at Manzanita Lake. Accommodations at Manzanita Lake are generous. The Manzanita Lake Campground offers 179 campsites; the campground fills up quickly during the summer months. Facilities for fishing, picnicking, swimming, and hiking surround the camp. The Manzanita Lake Camper Store carries all the necessities—and some very cool nonessential items, A park classic: Lassen Peak and the Chaos Crags are caught in the mirror of Manzanita Lake.

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like clothing with Lassen logos and park souvenirs. A laundry facility and showers are also available at the camper store. The Loomis Museum, a charming stone structure near the intersection of the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway and the campground access road, is an educational hub. Both the museum and the neighboring Loomis Ranger House once served as the summer home and studio of Lassen photographer B. F. Loomis. The museum boasts wonderful geologic and natural history exhibits, including spectacular photos taken by Loomis of the 1914–15 eruptions of Lassen Peak. A number of informative books and pamphlets about the park are sold here, and knowledgeable park rangers and staff are available daily during the summer season. Wilderness permits and horse permits are also available at the museum. The neighboring seismic station is a reminder of the area’s continuing volatility. If you are camping at Manzanita Lake, you can take in an interpretive program at the park’s amphitheater. Programs on geology, wildlife, human history, and other subjects are presented here on a regular schedule, as well as at the Loomis Museum and at other locations throughout the park during summer. Check at the museum or on campground bulletin boards for schedules. And then, of course, there is the hiking. Six delightful trails begin in the vicinity of Manzanita Lake, delving into very different ecosystems. Pick one or do them all; each is guaranteed to delight.

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26 REFLECTION LAKE WHY GO?

This short, lakeside trail offers stunning views of the Chaos Crags and Lassen Peak. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; loop Distance: 0.8 mile Hiking time: Less than 1 hour Difficulty: Easy Best season: Spring through fall Maps: USGS Manzanita Lake CA Trailhead amenities: Parking is in the Loomis Museum/visitor center

parking lot, but this fills quickly. Overflow parking is available along the access road to the Manzanita Lake Campground and along the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway. Water, restrooms, and information are available at the Loomis Museum.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway east for 0.5 mile to the parking area for the Loomis Museum/visitor center. From the front porch of the Loomis Museum, drop down the paved path and cross the park highway to the signed trailhead. GPS: N40 32.194' / W121 33.782'

True to its name (and truer when the waters aren’t rippled by wind), Reflection Lake throws back a reflection of the Chaos Crags.

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THE HIKE

When the water is calm, most likely in the early morning, it becomes abundantly clear how Reflection Lake got its name. From openings in the woods on the western shore of the lake, Chaos Crags and Lassen Peak dominate both the skyline and the glassy mirror of the water. Bring a The Lassen Peak Forest camera: The photo opportunities are grand. Reserve, established The trail begins at the Lily Pond Trailhead; from by President Theodore the sign on the verge of the park highway, drop down Roosevelt in 1905, was and right to the junction on the shoreline of Refleca precursor to Lassen National Forest. tion Lake. A box holds interpretive guides for the Lily Pond Nature Trail. Stay left, following the trail along the lakeshore. At Marker 9 for the nature trail, at about the 0.2-mile mark, stay left again, heading north and then west along the lakeshore. The trail wanders waterside through the woodland. Round the west shore, where views invite contemplation and photo ops abound, before coming parallel to the park highway at 0.5 mile. Continue around the lake’s south shore; if the water is high, you may have to follow the shoulder of the highway for a stretch before dropping back onto the shoreline path. The circuit is complete back at the Lily Pond junction; retrace your steps back up to the highway and parking area.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start by dropping off the highway and heading down and right to the junction. Stay

left, following the interpretive Lily Pond Nature Trail. 0.2 Stay left, along the shore of Reflection Lake; the Lily Pond Nature Trail breaks up

and to the right. 0.4 Reach the west end of the lake. 0.5 The lakeside trail parallels the park highway. When the water is high, hitch onto the

shoulder of the highway. 0.8 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Option: It’s only natural to link a loop around Reflection Lake with a tour on the Lily Pond Nature Trail. The routes overlap for about 0.2 mile. After you’ve circled Reflection Lake, pick up the nature guide and follow the nature trail, which goes up and to the right from Marker 9. The lily pond and the Chaos Jumbles are highlights along this short loop.

HIKE 26 Reflection Lake 141

27 LILY POND NATURE TRAIL WHY GO?

Skirt a pretty pond covered in water lilies and wander along the ragged edge of the Chaos Jumbles. The interpretive guide, which you can pick up at the trailhead, offers insight into the natural features of the area. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; loop Distance: 1.0 mile Hiking time: Less than 1 hour Difficulty: Easy Best season: Spring through fall Maps: USGS Manzanita Lake CA Trailhead amenities: Parking is in the Loomis Museum/visitor center

parking lot, but this fills quickly on summer weekends and holidays. Overflow parking is available along the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway and the access road to the Manzanita Lake Campground. Water, restrooms, and information are available at the Loomis Museum.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway east for 0.5 mile to the parking area for the Loomis Museum/visitor center. From the front porch of the Loomis Museum, drop down to the paved path and cross the park highway to the trailhead. GPS: N40 32.194' / W121 33.782'

THE HIKE

Gentle Jeffrey, prickly ponderosa. That was the extent of my ability to differentiate between evergreens in a typical mixed conifer forest for many years. It refers to the pinecones: The Jeffrey’s cone is relatively smooth to the touch; the ponderosa’s cone is edgy. And the ponderosa pine’s bark smells like vanilla (though it’s more like pineapple to my nose . . . and the Jeffrey smells sweet too). Snippets of folk biology like this have accumulated over years of wandering; I can identify quite a bit of the flora and fauna in a variety of ecosystems at a glance these days. But no matter how much time I spend in the woods, I learn something new every time I follow an interpretive trail. The Lily Pond Nature Trail is an excellent example. If you are convinced you’ll never be able to tell a Jeffrey from a ponderosa, much less a sugar pine or a lodgepole, take heart, for there is hope . . . though you may have to do laps to get it all straight. This pleasant little loop, perfect for children, begins in the mixed forest bordering Reflection Lake. The interpretive brochure available at the trailhead corresponds to numbered posts along the route, and many of these mark different species of trees. Once the botany lesson ends, the geology lesson begins; near the end of the loop you enter the Chaos Jumbles, the remnants of an avalanche from the Chaos Crags that occurred about 300 years ago. From the trailhead, walk down to the first trail intersection. At the box holding the interpretive brochures, go left (north). Curve around Reflection Lake for about 0.2 mile to Marker 9, where a sign directs hikers taking the nature trail to go up and right.

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A mother duck leads her brood into the shelter of the foliage on the lily pond.

Meander through the woods to a couple of log footbridges that lead through a marshy area at the head of a small meadow. Just beyond, at 0.4 mile, lies the lily pond, its blooms brilliantly yellow in early summer. Watch for ducks in the water; if there are young, they seek shelter among the large lily pads. Swarms of damselflies help keep the mosquito population in check. Climbing away from the pond, the trail becomes rockier and the trees sparser. A grassy depression to the right (west) holds water in early season; a hairpin turn takes you into open woodland at the edge of the Chaos Jumbles. The pink rock that makes up the trailbed is dacite; it’s all tossed about in the jumbles, and towers above in the form of the Chaos Crags. Pass Marker 30 and cross a park service road to the final interpretive marker. Drop through the woods to the first trail intersection, closing the loop. The Loomis Museum and parking area are up and across the park highway.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Lily Pond Nature Trail trailhead. Drop down to the junction near the

interpretive brochure box, then bear left (north), tracing the shoreline of Reflection Lake. 0.2 At the interpretive marker, go right on the signed Lily Pond Nature Trail. 0.4 Reach the lily pond. 0.6 Pass a second pond, which may be dry in late season. 0.8 Leave the Chaos Jumbles and cross a park service road. 1.0 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Option: Link a tour of the Lily Pond Nature Trail with a circuit of Reflection Lake, a nice addition that features great views of Lassen Peak and the Chaos Crags. The trails are the same for the first 0.2 mile; the Reflection Lake Trail breaks left at Marker 9 and skirts the shoreline of the small lake back to the shared trailhead. 144 Manzanita Lake

28 CHAOS CRAGS AND CRAGS LAKE WHY GO?

A steep climb leads to an overlook of tiny Crags Lake, which lies in an exposed basin below the unstable slopes of the Chaos Crags. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 4.5 miles Hiking time: 2–3 hours Difficulty: Moderate Best season: Early summer through fall Maps: USGS Manzanita Lake CA Trailhead amenities: Limited parking at the trailhead. Additional parking, water, and restrooms are available at the Loomis Museum, located just up the campground access road on

the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway. More facilities are available at the Manzanita Lake Picnic Area, located 0.3 mile south on the campground access road. Special considerations: Though this hike is not especially long, it involves stiff climbing and uneven footing, and ends in a location exposed to wind and rockfall. Be sure to wear adequate footwear and stay on the trail.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for 0.5 mile to the turnoff for Manzanita Lake Campground. Turn right (south) onto the campground road and follow it for 0.1 mile to the trailhead, which is on the left (east) side. GPS: N40 32.151' / W121 33.561'

THE HIKE

The crater at the end of this splendid hike now cradles a small lake, but it once was the fulcrum of a cataclysm that resulted in the formation of the Chaos Jumbles. About 300 hundred years ago, a portion of the Chaos Crags, plug dome volcanoes like Lassen Peak, let loose a massive avalanche of rock. The landslide scarred the landscape to the north and east of the Manzanita Lake area, and its debris makes up the dam of the lake itself. The hike’s setting is as spectacular as the violence that created it. The trail begins in open woodland dominated by sweet-­smelling Jeffrey pine and the roar of Manzanita Creek. The trail ascends steeply into a forest that grows thinner with the air and bears the scars of a controlled burn, eventually breaking out onto an exposed ridge that sweeps down from the barren Chaos Crags. Tiny Crags Lake, which may be dry by late season (and certainly will be in light snow years), lies below; if you channel your inner mountain goat, you can make the scary steep descent to the shoreline. Otherwise enjoy the superlative views from above, listening to the nearly constant clatter of rockfall as the loose dacite of the crags continues to seek its angle of repose. Here are the details: From the trailhead, climb gently through open forest alongside the creek.Yellow dots on the trees mark the route. Crest a hill, and the creek sounds fade. Follow a much smaller stream into mixed woodlands rooted in the volcanic debris, which runs in low ridges from the Crags down to Manzanita Lake.

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After 0.7 mile cross a log bridge spanning the stream and climb out of the drainage to where the trail flattens, swings through a broad, dry gully, then meanders upward on a ridge between two swales. Two steep switchbacks lead up to a traverse along another small ridge. Climb two more broad switchbacks and the forest thins. Through the living trees and the silver-­and-­black snags left by a prescribed burn, you can snatch views of the pink cliffs of the Chaos Crags. At the 2-mile mark, the traversing climb ends atop the ridge above Crags Lake. The views are best from here, sweeping up the scree slopes to the summits of the Crags, northwest to Table Mountain, and southwest across the forested ridges sweeping down toward the northern Sacramento Valley. A steep, ankle-­twisting use trail leads down to the lake, which in a good snow year sparkles in icy blue contrast to its pink rock basin. Toward the end of the hiking season, particularly when the snowfall has not been heavy, the lake dries up, and the pinging of the ubiquitous rockfall ends not with a splash but a clunk. After enjoying the views, return as you came.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the signed Chaos Crags Trailhead. 0.7 Cross a small stream via a log bridge. 1.6 Switchbacks lead up and out of a gully. 2.0 Reach the open ridge above Crags Lake. 2.25 The trail peters on the scree above the Crags Lake basin. Take in the airy views and

then retrace your steps. 4.5 Arrive back at the trailhead.

HIKE 28 Chaos Crags and Crags Lake 147

29 MANZANITA LAKE TRAIL WHY GO?

This pleasant romp circumnavigates the park’s most accessible, and arguably most popular, mountain lake. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; loop Distance: 2.0 miles Hiking time: 1–2 hours Difficulty: Easy Best season: Spring through fall Maps: USGS Manzanita Lake CA Trailhead amenities: Parking in the lot for the Manzanita Lake Picnic

Area; restrooms, picnic sites. Food, drink, and information are available at the nearby Manzanita Lake Camper Store. Special considerations: Because of its proximity to the campground and Loomis Museum, this trail sees a lot of traffic. Tread lightly.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD You can hop onto this loop trail from a variety of points, including from the Manzanita Lake Campground. For day users, the best parking/trailhead is in the picnic area. From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, drive east on the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for 0.5 mile, past the Loomis Museum, and turn right (south) on the campground access road. Drive 0.5 mile south on the campground road to the picnic area on the right. Depart from the north side of the picnic area parking area at the trail sign. GPS: N40 31.996' / W121 33.852'

THE HIKE

This well-­used trail glides through the Jeffrey pines and willows that surround Manzanita Lake. From the shoreline path you can watch ducks, geese, and paddlers in small boats ply the serene green surface of the water. Lassen Peak and the Chaos Crags, looming above the lake to the southeast, provide early-­morning shade and glow an otherworldly pink in the light of the setting sun. The easy-­to-­follow trail is described here in a counterclockwise circuit, starting on the east shore of the lake at the picnic area. The path leads to the side of Manzanita Creek, following it upstream for 0.25 mile to the sturdy bridge that spans the waterway and feeds onto the paved path curling west and passing behind the Loomis Museum. Beyond the museum the footpath narrows and is wedged between the shoreline and the park highway. Reach the Manzanita Lake entrance station at the 0.9-mile mark, arcing sharply south and crossing a bridge over the vigorous outlet stream. Wind through the willow and brush that crowds the lakeshore, providing cover for anglers, to a set of stairs that leads up onto a short dam. The views of Lassen Peak and the Chaos Crags along this stretch of trail are unparalleled—except, perhaps, for those captured on Reflection Lake. The route gradually circles back toward the campground, meeting access trails as it proceeds. At interpretive signs near the beach at the southern end of the picnic area, the path runs alongside the parking lot, closing the loop at the 2-mile mark.

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It’s an iconic view: Lassen Peak reflected in the still waters of Manzanita Lake.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Manzanita Lake Trailhead at the north end of the day-­use parking area. 0.25 Cross the bridge over Manzanita Creek and turn left on the paved path that runs

behind the Loomis Museum. 0.5 The trail skims the lakeside. 0.9 Reach the west end of the lake near the park’s entrance station. The trail bends

south. 1.0 Cross the bridge spanning the outlet stream. 1.3 Stairs lead onto the low dam. 1.7 Meet trails and roads leading into the Manzanita Lake Campground. Stay left on the

lakeside path. 2.0 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Option: You can reach this trail from any of the campsites by hiking to the west side of the loop roads and the small inlet stream. Cross the stream and follow it down to the Manzanita Lake Trail. 150 Manzanita Lake

30 MANZANITA CREEK TRAIL WHY GO?

A hike into the upper Manzanita Creek basin features views of Lassen Peak, the Chaos Crags, and Loomis Peak. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 6.8 miles Hiking time: 3–4 hours Difficulty: Moderate Best season: Early summer through early fall Maps: USGS Manzanita Lake CA and Lassen Peak CA

Trailhead amenities: There is space for one or two cars at the trailhead, which is at the beginning of Loop D (the tent loop) of the Manzanita Lake Campground. A trail sign marks the spot. The nearest water sources and restrooms are located on the west side of the tent loop.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, follow the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway for 0.5 mile to the turn for Manzanita Lake campground (just beyond the Loomis Museum). Turn right onto the campground road and follow it for 0.9 mile to the trailhead. If there is no parking available at the trailhead, return to the Manzanita Lake Camper Store parking area and walk 0.4 mile to the trailhead. GPS: N40 31.620' / W121 33.680'

THE HIKE

Manzanita Lake is a busy place, but making an escape into the quiet backcountry is relatively easy. Hike 1 mile up along the walk-­and-­talk Manzanita Creek Trail and you’ll find yourself in a quiet woodland sheltered by the towering ramparts of the Chaos Crags and Lassen Peak. The trail has a meditative beginning, gently ascending an old roadway where footfall is muffled by a sandy cushion on the forest floor. After about 200 yards, the trail merges with a dirt road; go left (southeast) on the trail (the road leads back right (west) into the campground).Yellow dots on the trees mark the route, and the sandy, obvious path climbs gently through firs and pines. At the 0.9-mile mark, broad switchbacks lead onto the crest of a low ridge separating two wooded swales. Once on the ridge the trail’s pitch steepens, but not drastically. The steep pink slopes behind the trees are the west-­facing flanks of the Chaos Crags; you may hear the crack and rumble of rockfall on the mountainside. Top the next swale and Lassen Peak looms ahead, with views of its heights becoming more and more stunning as you climb. The steepest part of the climb (and it’s not ever that steep) ends at 1.2 miles. The forest opens, redolent with the scent of herbs and pines. Glance northward (left) when the woods allow for relatively unobstructed views of the Chaos Crags. Though still ascending, the pitch is so gentle it feels flat. Like wind through the trees, the sound of Manzanita Creek finally drifts to the trail from the left (north). By the 1.9-mile mark the trail is parallel to the creek, though the waterway is out of sight. The path veers away from the water before doubling back and crossing the stream via a culvert at 2.1 miles. 151

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Narrow meadows filled with wildflowers crowd in on the path as you near the headwaters of Manzanita Creek.

Once on the east side of the stream, the trail, now single track and climbing fairly steadily again, continues south at the base of Lassen Peak. A long switchback leads up onto a bench and then the trail flattens again, with forest on its edges. Pass into the narrow valley that cradles the willowy headwaters of Manzanita Creek, traversing its west-­ facing slope and enjoying intermittent views of the rocky summits to the southwest, most notably Loomis Peak. The traverse ends in a dense stand of fir that obliterates views for a short distance; the trail then pops out into the meadow again, crossing a streamlet feeding Manzanita Creek at the 3-mile mark. A tangle of young firs that have been bent and twisted by heavy winter snows crowds the trail, which becomes narrower and rougher as it climbs. Finally the path is swallowed by the meadow near the headwall of the valley. The roar of a waterfall on the right (west) side of the valley is concentrated in the upper meadow. If the bugs aren’t too bothersome, this is a nice place to check out the panorama. To the left (southeast) is Lassen Peak, the Crescent Cliff dominating its lower reaches. Scanning around to the right (south, then west), Eagle Peak,Vulcan’s Castle, and sprawling Loomis Peak reach for the heavens, their pink summits harboring cups and creases of glittering snow late into the summer season. When you’ve taken it all in, return as you came.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Manzanita Creek Trailhead. 0.1 At the trail split, go left and uphill on the broad track. 1.2 The trail flattens before entering the upper portion of the drainage. 2.1 Cross Manzanita Creek. 3.4 Reach the meadow. Continue as far as you can before the trail peters out in the

grasses. Return as you came. 6.8 Arrive back at the trailhead.

HIKE 30 Manzanita Creek Trail 153

31 NOBLES EMIGRANT TRAIL—SUNFLOWER FLAT TO SUMMERTOWN WHY GO?

This peaceful, seldom-­traveled route follows a track left by pioneers and includes fleeting glimpses of Lassen Peak and the Chaos Crags. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; shuttle or out-­and-­back Distance: 4.0 miles one way Hiking time: About 2–3 hours Difficulty: Moderate Best season: Late spring to late fall Maps: USGS Manzanita Lake CA

Trailhead amenities: Large pullout/ parking area at the Nobles Pass Trailhead. Parking, restrooms, information, and water are available at the Loomis Museum at the Summertown end of the trail.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD To reach the Nobles Pass Trailhead, follow the park highway east from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station for 3 miles to Sunflower Flat. The parking area is on the right (southeast) side of the highway; a plaque commemorating the Emigrant Trail is just off the pavement. The trail is on the north side of the highway and can be reached by hiking straight into the woods to the obvious doubletrack. GPS: N40 33.493' / W121 31.917' The Summertown Trailhead is located on the north side of the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station. The closest parking is at Loomis Museum, located 0.5 mile east on the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway. Reach the trailhead by walking the portion of the Manzanita Lake Trail that parallels the park highway. GPS: N40 32.242' / W121 34.217'

THE HIKE

In the late nineteenth century, tens of thousands of men and women were drawn far from their homes back East by the promise of the Golden State. Seeking a fortune in a gold mine or a patch of land to farm in the northern Sacramento River valley, one of the most fertile on Earth, they’d already endured many hardships by the time they reached Lassen country. They’d crossed the Mississippi, trundled across the Great Plains, struggled over the Rocky Mountains, and survived the high desert of the Great Basin. This was the last mountain range to be crossed. Standing in the dense woodlands on the crest of the divide, you can almost hear the emigrants’ ghostly sighs of relief. Take a deep breath—it’s all downhill from here. To Summertown, at least. For the modern hiker, the Nobles Emigrant Trail is a pleasant stroll on a slice of history. The double track, originally set by wagon wheels, slips through woodland corridors cleared by the hearty souls of bygone days. The landscape has been profoundly impacted by a centuries-­old avalanche that spilled from the slopes of the Chaos Crags; rocky hummocks of pink dacite are heaped alongside the trail, which follows the path of least 154

resistance through the maze. The route is one of the unsung pleasures of Lassen park, seldom traveled, flowing through tortured terrain, shaded by Jeffrey and sugar pines, and featuring fleeting views of the summits of Lassen Peak and the Chaos Crags. The route can be traveled in either direction, out-­and-­back or as a shuttle. My preference is a shuttle run, traveling mostly downhill from Sunflower Flat to Summertown and Manzanita Lake, and that’s how the hike is described here. The most difficult part of the hike is the brief bushwhack through the woods on the north side of the park highway. Pick your way through the deadfall for about 100 yards to the obvious double track trail, which parallels the highway. Turn left (westward) and head uphill through a corridor of trees to the pass, which is at the 1-mile mark. From the pass, drop along the border of the Chaos Jumbles. The route is shaded by the canopy of widely spaced Jeffrey pines and marked with yellow and red trail markers tacked to their trunks. Look left (southeast) to where Lassen Peak and the Chaos Crags peek over the dusky summits of the rubble hummocks. Sweeping switchbacks lead down into easier terrain, with the trail tracing broad curves until it settles into a sheltered depression at about 2.5 miles. Here the path slips between the northern edge of the Chaos Jumbles and the southern flank of Table Mountain, which is skirted in a slope of dark gray talus. The area bears signs of a burn, which has cleared clutter from the forest floor.

The Chaos Jumbles bunch up against the Nobles Emigrant Trail below Nobles Pass.

HIKE 31 Nobles Emigrant Trail—Sunflower Flat to Summertown 155

NOBLES EMIGRANT TRAIL–SUNFLOWER FLAT TO SUMMERTOWN

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At 3 miles reach the Summertown site and the signed trailhead. Few signs of the settlement remain; the clearing in the woods has been swept of remnants of historical habitation. (If you plan to hike out and back, this is the turnaround point.) Pick up the gravel road that leads left; at a second intersection of service roads, stay left again, now on asphalt that climbs gently. At the top of the rise, pass through a park maintenance area. The Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway is about 0.1 mile beyond. Cross the park highway just above the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station and drop onto the Manzanita Lake Trail. You can skirt the lake in either direction, but the most direct route to the Loomis Museum and trail’s end is to turn left. Follow the lakeside trail for 0.5 mile to the Loomis Museum, where side trails hitch up and left to the plaza fronting the museum and the parking area.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at Sunflower Flat. Cross the park highway and bushwhack through the woods

for about 100 yards to the trail. Go left (west) and uphill toward Nobles Pass. 1.0 Crest the summit of Nobles Pass. 2.5 Walk a stretch of trail slipped in the hollow between the edge of the Chaos Jumbles

and black talus at the base of Table Mountain. 2.9 Reach the signed trailhead for the Nobles Emigrant Trail at Summertown. Go left on

the park service road. 3.1 At the intersection of park service roads, stay left, climbing the paved track past a

park service maintenance area. 3.4 Reach the junction of the park service road and the Lassen Volcanic National Park

Highway near the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station. Cross the highway and pick up the Manzanita Lake Trail, heading left toward the Loomis Museum. 3.9 Bear left at the trail junctions below the Loomis Museum. 4.0 Arrive at trail’s end in the plaza in front of the museum.

Option: If you’d prefer to do an out-­and-­back hike, I’d suggest starting at the Loomis Museum, following the Nobles Emigrant Trail uphill to its summit, and then turning around and returning as you came. This option skims off the last mile to Sunflower Flat, for a total of about 6 miles out and back.

HIKE 31 Nobles Emigrant Trail—Sunflower Flat to Summertown 157

Butte Lake The frontcountry of Lassen Volcanic National Park explodes with dramatic landscapes— Lassen Peak, Bumpass Hell, the Chaos Crags. But the backcountry doesn’t disappoint, especially the Butte Lake area, with its collection of otherworldly geologic formations. The centerpiece of this secluded section of the park is the slumbering Cinder Cone, a symmetrical, rust-­colored, 750-foot-­high volcano. Cinder Cone is stark, dramatic, and relatively new, and eruptions from the cone’s vent are responsible for the creation of the noteworthy features that surround it. Volcanic rock dominates, from the fine grains that surface trails to the chunky barriers that dam Snag Lake and frame Butte Lake. The Fantastic Lava Beds, blocks of black basalt that range north and east of the Cinder Cone, were expelled from the base of the volcano in eruptions that date back to the 1600s. Piled to heights of 200 feet and more, these lava beds separate Snag Lake from Butte Lake and create a formidable eastern rampart for the Nobles Emigrant Trail. The Painted Dunes, spreading south and east from the Cinder Cone, are lava beds covered with a veneer of volcanic ash that took on swirling muted hues—umber and sienna, antique rose and dusky gray—as they were oxidized by heat and steam. The dunes spread in an arc around the east-­facing base of the cone, a rolling plain of vegetation-­free real estate draped in a rocky coat of many colors. The Fantastic Lava Beds spill into Butte Lake, separating the water from the bulk of the Cinder Cone.

158

East Prospect Peak, a long-­defunct shield volcano that rises above it all, is as different from the Cinder Cone as dough is from toast. Created by flows of lava like those belched from Hawaiian volcanoes, it is now almost completely blanketed in dense forest. Its summit offers some of the best views in the area, ranging from Lassen Peak in the southwest to, on clear days, Mount Shasta in the northwest. The two major lakes of the area shimmer in quiet contrast to their volatile volcanic surroundings. Butte Lake, jade-­green and sometimes milky with minerals leached from the lava beds, serves as trailhead for all the hikes listed in this chapter. Snag Lake, separated from Butte by the lava beds, is stained turquoise by the same minerals and is bordered on its western shores by a striking forest of silvered snags. The 101-site campground at Butte Lake may be full on holiday weekends in the summertime, but most often you can find a place. It offers a wonderful alternative to the hustle and bustle of camps at Manzanita and Summit Lakes. Each site has a fire pit, table, and bear-­proof food storage cabinet; campground amenities include toilets, water, a ranger station with information, and garbage collection. Swimming and nonmotorized boating are permitted at Butte Lake. If you plan to spend the night in the backcountry, be sure to obtain a permit. Park regulations require that all backcountry camps be established at least 100 feet from water sources and trails. To reach Butte Lake from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, backtrack west from the park’s entrance station for 0.5 mile to the intersection of CA 44 and CA 89. Turn right (north) on CA 44/CA 89 and follow the merged highway for 13.6 miles to Old Station, where CA 44 makes a sharp right (east) turn, breaking away from CA 89. Continue on CA 44 for about 11 miles to a right (south) turn onto the well-­signed road to Butte Lake. The gravel road leads for 6.3 miles to the campground and picnic area.

Butte Lake 159

32 BATHTUB LAKE WHY GO?

Hike to a sun-­warmed lake ideal for swimming and relaxing, with the option of looping back to Butte Lake via Butte Creek. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back or loop Distance: 1.2 miles to Bathtub Lake and back; 2.3 miles for the loop Hiking time: Less than 1 hour to Bathtub Lake; 1–2 hours for the loop Difficulty: Easy

Best season: Late summer through early fall Maps: USGS Prospect Peak CA Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, water, picnic sites, information signboards. More amenities and the ranger station are located in the adjacent campground.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD To reach the Bathtub Lake Trailhead from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, backtrack west for 0.5 mile to the intersection of CA 44 and CA 89. Turn right (north) on the merged highway and follow it for 13.6 miles to Old Station, where CA 44 makes a sharp right (east) turn. Continue on CA 44 for another 11 miles to a right (south) turn onto the well-­signed road to Butte Lake. The gravel road leads 6.3 miles to the campground and picnic area. The trailhead is on the north side of the picnic area parking lot. GPS: N40 33.920' / W121 18.055'

THE HIKE

Cupped in little basins and warmed by the sun, Bathtub Lake and its no-­name lake neighbor, separated by a forested hummock, are the perfect destination for families with small children. The peaceful lakes offer rock-­throwing, wading, swimming, sunning, and fishing, all within a short walk from the Butte Lake Campground and picnic area. Most hikers are content to walk to Bathtub Lake and back, but those wishing to wander a bit farther will enjoy the little-­used loop trail that continues north of Bathtub Lake to Butte Creek and then circles back to finish along the shores of Butte Lake. A creek crossing on a makeshift driftwood dam and a rather steep climb to a promontory with great views of Butte Lake and the Fantastic Lava Beds add challenge to the hike. The signed trail begins on the north side of the Butte Lake Picnic Area parking lot. The broad cinder path climbs rather steeply away from Butte Lake. Crest the hill and pass through sparse woodland bearing the black scars of a controlled burn dating back to 1998. Climb over a second little hummock; the trail drops gently to a Y. Stay right, curving down through the deadfall to the shores of the no-­name lake, which is on the right (east) side of the trail at 0.4 mile. This small, opaque-­g reen lake sports a collar of reeds on its southeast shore, rocks on which you can climb or rest, and, when the water level is low, narrow black-­cinder beaches. Fire-­scarred trees line the rim of the basin, and deadfall litters the perimeter. Bathtub Lake is reached via the left-­hand trail branch at the Y, which drops sharply into an open basin also rimmed by fire-­scarred trees. More secluded than the no-­name lake, 160

Bathtub Lake is on the left (northwest) side of the trail at 0.6 mile. If this is as far as you wish to hike, retrace your steps, returning to the trailhead at 1.2 miles (if you visit both lakes). To complete the Bathtub Lake loop, continue north past Bathtub Lake; the trail is marked with red dots on the trees. Grand Jeffrey pines, both standing and fallen, line the narrowing track, which climbs out of the lake basin. A big mound of talus rises on the right (east) side of the trail. The path drops into a hollow on the north side of the talus slope and then curves to the east. At about 1 mile the route dips down a switchback to Butte Creek, Butte Lake’s verdant, herb-­lined outlet stream. Cross the stream (it may be nearly dry in late season and a more challenging ford when flush with snowmelt). On the east side of the watercourse, the path rides up and over a hummock into a dry swale and heads through the woods toward Butte Lake, paralleling the rock-­jumbled creekbed. A steep slope of talus spills to the creek on its west side. Proceed to a signed trail intersection at the northern tip of Butte Lake. To complete the loop, go right (west) across the driftwood dam at the mouth of the lake. The path that continues straight (left) leads to Widow and Snag Lakes. The trail climbs via switchbacks up the steep slope on the west side of the creek. At the top of the rise, you’ll be treated to wonderful views of Butte Lake, the Fantastic

The still waters of Bathtub Lake’s smaller neighbor mirror the sparse woodlands that surround it.

HIKE 32 Bathtub Lake 161

Kilometer

0

BATHTUB LAKE

0

1 1

Mile

To 44

Butte Lake Day-Use Area

Duck Lake

reek eC

Bathtub Lake

B u tt

Butte Lake Road

East Prospect Peak 8,338 ft.

Driftwood Dam

32

Butte Lake

Butte Lake Campground

BE

DS

Trailhead

VA

To Widow Lake

TIC

ne

s

AS

n

Du

FA

Pai

ted

NT

To Badger Flat

LA

Cinder Cone

To Rainbow Lake

To Snag Lake

To Snag Lake

Lava Beds, and the Cinder Cone. On the west side of the talus ridge, the trail’s surface becomes sandy cinders. Drop down switchbacks through widely spaced pines, and follow the broad path back along the north shore of Butte Lake to the picnic area and trailhead.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the upper trailhead, signed for Bathtub Lake. 0.4 Arrive at the no-­name lake. The cinder trail splits, with the right-­hand track drop-

ping to the shoreline of the no-­name lake. To continue to Bathtub Lake and finish the loop, take the left-­hand trail. 0.6 Pass Bathtub Lake, which is on the left. If this is your final destination, retrace your

steps (1.2 miles round trip). 1.0 Cross Butte Creek. 1.5 Reach Butte Lake and the junction with the trail to Widow and Snag Lakes. Go right,

crossing Butte Creek a second time. 2.3 Arrive back at the trailhead.

162 Butte Lake

33 EAST PROSPECT PEAK WHY GO?

The panorama from the top of East Prospect Peak includes Lassen Peak, Mount Harkness, the upper Sacramento Valley, and, on a clear day, Mount Shasta. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 7.0 miles Hiking time: 4–5 hours Difficulty: Strenuous Best season: Late summer through fall Maps: USGS Prospect Peak CA Special considerations: The summit of East Prospect Peak, at 8,338 feet, is high enough to induce symptoms of altitude sickness, including

headache, nausea, and fatigue. If any of these symptoms manifest, descend immediately. No water is available on this hike. Be sure to carry an ample supply. Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, picnic tables, water, information signboards. Additional restrooms and amenities are located in the Butte Lake Campground.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD To reach the Butte Lake Trailhead from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, backtrack west for 0.5 mile to the intersection of CA 44/CA 89. Turn right (north) on the highway and follow it for 13.6 miles to Old Station, where CA 44 makes a sharp right (east) turn. Continue on CA 44 for another 11 miles to a right (south) turn onto the well-­signed road to Butte Lake. The gravel road leads 6.3 miles to the campground and picnic area. The trailhead is adjacent to the boat ramp in the day-­use area. GPS: N40 33.833' / W121 18.134'

THE HIKE

You know that old hiking cliché: The top is just over the next rise (or around the next bend). It’s never true, and the hike to the top of East Prospect Peak emphatically proves the point. The route up this heavily forested, long-­defunct shield volcano is a thigh-­pumping and lung-­testing slog. The regularly spaced 200-foot contour intervals delineated on some topographic maps are almost visible on the ground. You’ll ascend relentlessly for nearly 2,000 feet through dense woods that don’t allow views until you are within spitting distance of the summit. On the lower slopes the trail is composed of cinders, adding challenge to the climb. That’s not to say the hike isn’t worthwhile. If you are an aerobic animal, this trek is for you. If you are bent on bagging every summit in the park, you can’t pass Prospect by. If you want a mountaintop all to yourself, you’ve found your peak. And the views from the top are superlative, with Lassen Peak dominating the southwestern horizon and, on clear days, Mount Shasta visible across the upper reaches of the Sacramento Valley to the northwest. The route begins on the Cinder Cone/Nobles Emigrant Trail. The trail’s cinder surface feels like sand underfoot and can make for deceptively strenuous hiking. The Fantastic Lava Beds rise close to the route on the left (east); an open forest of Jeffrey pine is on the right (west). 163

Though mostly forested, the trail to the summit of Prospect Peak opens on occasion, allowing carpets of pinemat manzanita to thrive.

The signed junction with the East Prospect Peak Trail is at 0.4 mile; the summit is 2.8 miles ahead. The trail, padded with pine needles, begins to climb immediately. Widely spaced red dots on the trees keep you on track, though the path is easy to discern. The incline is relatively gentle to start, but it becomes more steeply pitched as it meanders up the east-­facing slope of the mountain. The dots on the trees change from red to yellow, and the Cinder Cone flickers in and out of view at about the 1-mile mark. Set a rhythm, and go with it. The nature of the forest changes as you gain altitude, fading from one dominated by Jeffrey pines to one of red fir, with occasional mats of manzanita taking hold in clearings. Swing toward the north side of the mountain, and at about the 2-mile mark pass a circular gully filled with a jumble of talus on the right (north) side of the trail. More piles of talus spice the trail above. Continue rolling upward. At about the 2.3-mile mark, the trail bumps against a spill of gray and tawny talus; keep this talus field on your right (north), following the yellow dots. A sharp right bend in the trail (watch for the dot) takes you around another talus field; keep this one on the left as you continue to climb. Above the talus fields, just when you think you are getting somewhere, the mountain rolls away again, swathed in its mantle of trees. A long, ascending traverse leads to the south face, then the trail switchbacks to the north. The forest obscures views, but you can make out the lava beds, Butte Lake, and green hills rolling to the north, east, and south. Mount another switchback; as you head back south, the vistas finally open—Snag Lake appears, then Lassen Peak. The trail circles onto the summit through trees and scrub clipped by snow and wind, climbing onto the rim of the volcano’s shallow crater. The crater slopes gently in on itself, with scattered pines and firs taking root in its coarse soil. Wind westward along the rim to its northwest side, where you’ll find the USGS benchmark. The vistas are inspiring and the solitude profound.West Prospect Peak rises directly to the west; behind it are the twin summits of Badger Mountain. On clear days you can see northwest to Mount 164 Butte Lake

Kilometer

0

EAST PROSPECT PEAK

0

1 1

Mile

To 44

Butte Lake Day-Use Area

Butte Lake Campground

Duck Lake

reek eC

Bathtub Lake

B u tt

Butte Lake Road

East Prospect Peak 8,338 ft.

Driftwood Dam

Butte Lake

BE

DS

33

VA

To Widow Lake

TIC

ne

s

AS

n

Du

FA

Pai

ted

NT

To Badger Flat

LA

Cinder Cone

To Rainbow Lake

To Snag Lake

To Snag Lake

Shasta. To the south are the Chaos Crags and Lassen Peak. Views to the south and east, best enjoyed on the descent, are of Snag Lake, Butte Lake, and the Cinder Cone. Return as you came.You’ll find that what was a slog on the ascent passes with relative ease on the descent.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Cinder Cone/Nobles Emigrant Trailhead. 0.4 Reach the signed East Prospect Peak Trail intersection. Go right, and begin the long

climb. 1.0 The clean slopes of the Cinder Cone can been glimpsed through the widely spaced

trees to the left (south). 1.75 Swing onto the north slope of the peak and continue to climb. 2.0 Pass a circular depression heaped with talus on the right. 2.3 Keep the first talus field on your right. 2.5 Keep the second talus field on the left. 3.25 Swing up switchbacks on the summit cone. 3.5 Reach the summit. Take in the views and then return as you came. 7.0 Arrive back at the trailhead.

HIKE 33 East Prospect Peak 165

34 CINDER CONE WHY GO?

This remarkable trail leads to the rim of the Cinder Cone, where you can take in bird’s-­eye views of the Fantastic Lava Beds and the Painted Dunes. If that’s not enough of a thrill, you can climb down into the crater itself. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; lollipop or out-­and-­back Distance: 5.0 miles Hiking time: 2–3 hours Difficulty: Strenuous Best season: Early summer through fall Maps: USGS Prospect Peak CA Special considerations: Heed the signs asking you to remain on established trails; blazing a separate path tarnishes the magic of the cinder fields. The surface of this trail—loose and sandy in the lower reaches, loose and rocky

on the Cinder Cone itself—makes for challenging walking. No water is available. The combination of challenging trail surfaces, an elevation gain of about 750 feet in 0.5 mile, and exposure to the sun and wind can be withering. Avoid hiking on hot afternoons and carry plenty of water. Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, picnic tables, water, information signboards. Additional restrooms and amenities are located in the Butte Lake Campground.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, backtrack west for 0.5 mile to the intersection of CA 44/CA 89. Turn right (north) on the highway and follow it for 13.6 miles to Old Station, where CA 44 makes a sharp right (east) turn. Continue on CA 44 for another 11 miles to a right (south) turn onto the well-­signed road to Butte Lake. The gravel road leads 6.3 miles to the campground and picnic area. The trailhead is adjacent to the boat ramp in the day-­use area. GPS: N40 33.833' / W121 18.134'

THE HIKE

If Lassen Peak is the heart of the park, then the Cinder Cone is its navel. It even resembles a navel—a brown outie plunked in the belly of a volcanic basin of otherworldly, unsettling landscapes. Though hardly hidden and one of the park’s premier hikes, the Cinder Cone is out of the mainstream. Geologists believe the cone began to take shape in the mid-­sixteenth century and built over the years in a series of eruptions. Some events spewed lava, cinders, and The Cinder Cone and its ash, while a different type of flow, emitted from environs are so unique they the base of the cone, created the ominous Fantasearned national monument tic Lava Beds. It’s a fascinating story, thoroughly status in 1907, about a explained in an interpretive pamphlet keyed to decade before the national park was established. numbered posts along the route. The pamphlet is available at the trailhead.

166

A steep path leads to the exposed summit of the Cinder Cone.

The Cinder Cone is the most popular site in the backcountry, and the trail sees a lot of traffic. Please respect the integrity of the cinder fields by remaining on the trail. Random footprints in the cinders don’t erode, leaving unsightly scars that don’t easily mend. The route begins on the southwest side of the Butte Lake Picnic Area, next to the boat ramp. For the first 1.3 miles the Cinder Cone Nature Trail is merged with the Nobles Emigrant Trail, used in the 1850s and 1860s by thousands of immigrants traveling cross-­country to California’s upper Sacramento Valley. Imagine their surprise when they encountered the cone, then rounded the bend and beheld the even bigger plug dome looming ahead. The sandy trail gradually climbs through woodland dominated by Jeffrey pine and bordered on the east by the angular basalt blocks of the Fantastic Lava Beds. Like the tailings of a volcanic mine, these massive lava beds dominate the landscape. The Jeffrey pines grow on the low-­angled slopes of East Prospect Peak, which rises opposite the lava beds; Prospect is a shield volcano in the tradition of those that built the Hawaiian Islands. Pass the trail leading to the East Prospect summit at 0.4 mile. The steep, symmetrical slopes of the cone come into view and grow in dominance as the trail continues upward. Reach the trail junction at the base of the cone, gather your

HIKE 34 Cinder Cone 167

strength in the shade of a stately Jeffrey pine, and take the left-­hand path to the summit. The right-­hand trail leads to Snag Lake and other destinations in Lassen’s backcountry. It feels like one step forward and two steps back as you ascend the Cinder Cone summit trail. Gear down, persevere, and enjoy the views as you climb. Lassen Peak comes into view as you circle toward the south face of the cone. The treadway surface grows coarser higher up on the path—bigger, heavier cinders fell closer to the volcano’s vent; lighter, smaller cinders were carried farther afield. Reach the rim of the cone at the 1.8-mile mark. A trail circumnavigates the high ground, with great views in all directions—the spreading green slopes of East Prospect Peak to the west, Lassen Peak and its neighbors to the southwest, Snag Lake to the south, and the lava beds and the Painted Dunes spreading south to east and north toward Butte Lake. Spur trails lead down into the maw of the crater itself. Explore and enjoy. When you are ready to return, you can either retrace your steps to the trailhead or descend the south face of the mountain and travel around the base of the Cinder Cone to rejoin the Nobles Emigrant Trail. The latter route is described here: Begin the descent on the obvious trail that pitches steeply down the east face of the volcano. One step forward equals three steps down on the controlled slide of the downhill. It’s a kick, and it doesn’t take long to land at the base of the cone. At the foot, the trail is wedged between the volcano and the rolling hillocks of the Painted Dunes; circle right (west) and make a gentle climb through the cinders to close the loop at the junction with the Nobles Emigrant Trail. Follow the trail right (north) to the trail intersection on the north side of the cone at the big pine tree; then retrace your steps to the Butte Lake Trailhead.

A network of trails circles the top of the Cinder Cone and offers hikers a chance to drop inside the crater itself. East Prospect Peak rises behind.

168 Butte Lake

Kilometer

0

CINDER CONE

0

1 1

Mile

To 44

Butte Lake Day-Use Area

Butte Lake Campground

Duck Lake

reek eC

Bathtub Lake

B u tt

Butte Lake Road

East Prospect Peak 8,338 ft.

Driftwood Dam

Butte Lake

BE

DS

34

VA

To Widow Lake

TIC

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s

AS

n

Du

FA

Pai

ted

NT

To Badger Flat

LA

Cinder Cone

To Rainbow Lake

To Snag Lake

To Snag Lake

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Butte Lake Trailhead. 0.4 Pass the trail to East Prospect Peak, staying straight on the broad Nobles Emigrant/

Cinder Cone Nature Trail. 1.3 Reach the trail intersection at the base of the Cinder Cone. Stay left and uphill on

the obvious path to the rim; the elevation gain is 750 feet in the next 0.5 mile. The bypass trail to Snag Lake is to the right. 1.8 Arrive on the rim of the volcano. You have options here: Descend into the crater via

one of the established paths; circle the crater and take the backside path down; or circle the crater and take the same path down. Returning via the backside trail is described: Turn right to begin the circumnavigation. 2.25 At the unsigned trail junction on the east side of the volcano, at a small rock out-

crop shaded by a spindly evergreen, turn sharply right and begin the steep descent. 2.9 Your controlled slide ends at a switchback, followed by an easier descent to the

signed trail junction at the base of the Cinder Cone’s south slope. Go right to circle back toward Butte Lake. 3.25 At the next signed trail junction, stay straight (right) on the path signed for Butte

Lake. 3.6 Close the loop. 5.0 Arrive back at the trailhead.

HIKE 34 Cinder Cone 169

35 LAVA BED BEACHHEAD AT SNAG LAKE WHY GO?

Ramble over cinder fields and trace the edge of the Fantastic Lava Beds as you head to the north shore of Snag Lake, where a crescent beach offers a great site for rest and a swim. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out and back Distance: 8.4 miles Hiking time: 4-5 hours Difficulty: Moderate due to the cinder trail surface Best season: Late spring through fall

Maps: USGS Prospect Peak CA Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, picnic tables, water, information signboards. Additional restrooms and amenities are located in the Butte Lake Campground.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD To reach the Butte Lake Trailhead from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, backtrack west for 0.5 mile to the intersection of CA 44/CA 89. Turn right (north) on the highway and follow it for 13.6 miles to Old Station, where CA 44 makes a sharp right (east) turn. Continue on CA 44 for another 11 miles to a right (south) turn onto the well-­signed road to Butte Lake. The gravel road leads 6.3 miles to the campground and picnic area. The trailhead is adjacent to the information signboard and boat ramp in the day-­use area. GPS: N40 33.833' / W121 18.134'

THE HIKE

The strange and wonderful volcanic formations surrounding the Cinder Cone are showcased on this mildly challenging exploration, which passes through cinder beds and skims the edge of the Fantastic Lava Beds to a crescent beach on the shoreline of Snag Lake. While the cone itself makes for a dramatic backdrop, the lava beds dominate—a black jumble streaked with red that oozed from the base of the cone in eruptions that took place over hundreds of years. The lava beds reach heights of 200 feet and are essentially inaccessible, although a few evergreens have been able to establish themselves on the jagged basalt blocks. Begin on the merged Cinder Cone Nature and Nobles Emigrant Trails, which cruise up toward the Cinder Cone through an open woodland, passing the trail to the summit of East Prospect Peak at the 0.4-mile mark. At the base of the cone, stay right on the bypass trail. The route descends as it skirts the base of the cone, passing a number of signed trail intersections, most of which break left to access summit paths on the volcano. While traveling through the cinder fields is easy in terms of route finding, the hiking is surprisingly strenuous, like walking in soft beach sand. Follow the arc of the lava beds as you proceed, staying left at the junction with the trail that climbs toward Rainbow Lake at 2.5 miles. Climb alongside the beds into a sparse woodland. From the high point the route is a roller coaster for the next mile or so, with the lava beds forming an impenetrable barrier on the left (north and east) side of the path.

170

The Fantastic Lava Beds rise to more than 200 feet, a jumble of black basalt stained mineral red in places and rising from a bed of cinders.

A final descent deposits you on the beach at the northern edge of Snag Lake, which was created by the dam formed by the lava beds and the Painted Dunes. This is the perfect rest stop and turnaround point, with views across the lake basin into the wooded reaches of Lassen’s backcountry. Empty your shoes of cinders, have a snack, and take a swim before retracing your steps to the trailhead.

HIKE 35 Lava Bed Beachhead at Snag Lake 171

0

LAVA BED BEACHHEAD AT SNAG LAKE

0

Kilometer

1 1

Mile

To 44

Butte Lake Road

Butte Lake Day-Use Area

Butte Lake Campground

BE

DS n

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TIC

To Badger Flat

lds

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Fie

FA

Cin

r de

Panther Spring

Beach

Snag Lake

ag

s

Rainbow Lake

To Horseshoe Lake

G r a ss y C r eek

Sn

Driftwood Dam

Butte Lake

35

Cinder Cone

Duck Lake

r. tte C

Bathtub Lake

Bu

East Prospect Peak 8,338 ft.

To Juniper Lake

To Widow Lake

The crescent beach tucked against the fantastic Lava Beds overlooks slides smoothly into Snag Lake.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Butte Lake Trailhead. 0.4 Pass the trail to East Prospect Peak, staying straight on the broad Nobles Emigrant/

Cinder Cone Nature Trail. 1.3 Reach the intersection with the trail to the summit of the Cinder Cone. Stay right on

the bypass trail. 1.7 At the next junction, stay right on the Nobles Emigrant Trail. 2.0 Another junction: Go left on the trail to Snag Lake. 2.2 Another junction; stay left toward Snag Lake. 2.5 At the Y, stay left toward Snag Lake; the path to the right leads up to Rainbow Lake. 2.8 The trail climbs alongside the Fantastic Lava Beds. 4.2 Descend to the lava bed beachhead. This is the turnaround; retrace your steps. 8.4 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Options: The trail continues along the shoreline of Snag Lake, which offers more opportunities for beachgoing as well as backcountry campsites and access to Rainbow Lake, the Twin Lakes, and other destinations. The possibilities are abundant, dependent only on how much time you have and how much you can carry.

HIKE 35 Lava Bed Beachhead at Snag Lake 173

36 BUTTE AND SNAG LAKES LOOP WHY GO?

This trail circles two lakes, passing through the cinder beds adjacent to the Fantastic Lava Beds and the Painted Dunes. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Backpack or a long day hike; loop Distance: 14.1 miles Hiking time: 7–8 hours Difficulty: Strenuous Best season: Late spring through fall Maps: USGS Prospect Peak CA and Mount Harkness CA Special considerations: If you make a backcountry camp along this trail,

be sure to abide by park regulations. Secure a backcountry permit, and set up camp at least 100 feet from lakes, other water sources, and trails. Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, picnic tables, water, information signboards. Additional restrooms and amenities are located in the Butte Lake Campground.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD To reach the Butte Lake Trailhead from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station, backtrack west for 0.5 mile to the intersection of CA 44/CA 89. Turn right (north) on the merged highway and follow it for 13.6 miles to Old Station, where CA 44 makes a sharp right (east) turn. Continue on CA 44 for 11 miles to a right (south) turn onto the well-­signed road to Butte Lake. The gravel road leads 6.3 miles to the campground and picnic area. The trailhead is adjacent to the information signboard at the east end of the picnic area. GPS: N40 33.901' / W121 18.045'

THE HIKE

The Fantastic Lava Beds divide Butte Lake from Snag Lake and define the ambience of both. A dark, ominous presence, the lava beds on the Butte Lake side appear utterly devoid of life, a tumbled mass of new black rock. On the Snag Lake side, signs of the fertility that will blossom once the lava beds have broken down begin to appear. Solitary evergreens have found purchase in jagged rock, first signs of the forest to come. This long loop skirts the shorelines of both lakes. As described here, in a clockwise direction, the loop first follows the long arm of Butte Lake south toward Juniper Lake, circles back along the west shore of Snag Lake, and finishes by passing the Cinder Cone. But, as with all loops, it can be done in either direction—and if you plan to do the loop as a long day hike, it might be easier to start with the cinder slog around the lava beds and finish on the less-­arduous trail surface alongside Butte Lake. Regardless of which way you travel, you can break the hike up by camping in the open woodlands along the Snag Lake shoreline—a popular option among backcountry travelers. To make the clockwise loop, begin at the main trailhead on the east side of the Butte Lake Picnic Area. The trail, a swath of footprints pressed into the cinders, leads east along the shore of the lake. Climb switchbacks to the top of a knob that overlooks Butte Lake and the Fantastic Lava Beds at the 0.7-mile mark. More switchbacks careen down to a makeshift driftwood bridge over Butte Creek. Cross the creek; a sign on the opposite side

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designates this as the horse trail (also part of the Bathtub Loop Trail). Stay right (south), following the path along the edge of Butte Lake. The shaded shoreline trail presents great views of the lake, the Fantastic Lava Beds, the Cinder Cone, and Lassen Peak beyond; an opening at the foot of a small talus field offers the best westward vistas. Near the head of Butte Lake, pass through a stand of quaking aspen, with paddlelike leaves that shimmy and crackle in the slightest winds, to the intersection with the trail to Widow Lake at 2.5 miles. Stay right (south) on the path to Snag Lake. The route continues through the open forest that predominates between Butte and Snag Lakes. The trail seems flat at times but steadily gains altitude, climbing about 300 feet before topping out on a forested divide. Signs of fire damage in this area have nearly vanished in the years that passed between editions of this guide; the woodland is open and lush with meadow grasses and wildflowers where sun reaches the forest floor. An equally gentle descent leads to the eastern edge of Snag Lake at 5.3 miles. As you near the water, aspens edge into the evergreens. The trail rolls through alternating aspen and meadow as it traces the east side of the lake. At openings in the trees, you can look northwest across sandy beaches and turquoise water to the Fantastic Lava Beds. A sandy peninsula that juts into the lake is a popular backcountry camp, as well as the perfect spot to sit for a while, empty the cinders out of your shoes, and have a bite to eat. Continuing south along the lakeshore, cross an inlet stream, then curl around to the intersection with the trail that leads to Cameron Meadow and Juniper Lake at 7.2 miles. Stay right (west) on the loop, which arcs through open woodland and a marshy area littered with funky boardwalks of fallen logs to Grassy Creek. Cross the creek on logs or rock-­hop. The hike begins with a view: Looking down on Butte Lake and the Fantastic Lava Beds.

HIKE 36 Butte and Snag Lakes Loop 175

Approaching the Snag Lake shoreline.

Pick up the trail on the other side of the waterway, hiking west and uphill to the trail intersection with the path to Horseshoe Lake at 7.7 miles. Take the path to the right (headed north); a trail sign indicates Butte Lake, via the Cinder Cone, is 5.7 miles distant. Trees screen vistas of Snag Lake, but the waterline is visible to the right. Climb around a bluff, then traverse above the lake to the intersection with the trail to Rainbow Lake at 8.3 miles. Stay straight (north), continuing to parallel the lakeshore. The trees grow thinner as the trail proceeds, until living trees disappear, leaving in their absence a surreal landscape of silvery standing snags. The lake’s name is derived from these snags, as well as those that lie beneath the water’s surface—the remnants of trees killed when eruptions from the Cinder Cone built the Fantastic Lava Beds, damming Grassy Creek and creating the lake. The trail weaves through this eerily beautiful landscape. The creaking of the standing dead as they shudder in the wind can be enervating, drawing your eyes away from the path to scan for trees that look like they might topple over. If you’ve ever wanted to test that old conundrum—“If a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear it?”—this is the place. Pack a hard hat should you choose to linger. Yellow dots help you stay on the route, which remains within about 50 yards of the lakeshore (in drier years, you can walk directly on the shoreline). Traverse a wooded knob as the trail climbs about 100 yards above the lake; the path drops off the knob onto a lovely beach in the shadow of the lava beds at about 9.9 miles. The beach offers a breathtaking view southeast across the lake toward Mount Hoffman. Panther Spring, tucked into the lava rocks, lies north of the beach. The trail curves west, away from the lake, and enters the realm of the lava beds, a great red-­and-­black jumble that blocks the horizon on the right (east). It’s inhospitable terrain, but a scattering of lone pines make do, clinging to chunks of basalt. The roller-­coaster trail of crushed cinder translates to exhausting, if straightforward, walking. 176 Butte Lake

0

BUTTE AND SNAG LAKES LOOP

0

Kilometer

1 1

Mile

To 44

Butte Lake Road

Butte Lake Day-Use Area

Duck Lake

r. tte C

Bathtub Lake

Bu

East Prospect Peak 8,338 ft.

Driftwood Dam

36

Butte Lake

BE

DS

Butte Lake Campground

n

ne

s

LA

Du

AS

Pai

ted

TIC

To Badger Flat

VA

Cinder Cone

lds

NT

Fie

FA

Cin

r de

Panther Spring

Beach

Snag Lake

ag

s

Rainbow Lake

To Horseshoe Lake

G r a ss y C r eek

Sn

To Juniper Lake

To Widow Lake

Slog up another short hill, then ski down through a broad drainage that may hold water early in the season. At the crest of the next hill, the smooth sides of the Cinder Cone come into view. The path breaks out of the woodland and into open fields of cinders, with the streaked browns, golds, and oranges of the Painted Dunes covering the jagged edges of the lava flow. Pass a buttress of red rock, a silvered snag, and a trail sign asking you to remain on the trail while in the cinder fields as the trail swings more directly northward to the first of several trail intersections. At the first, with the trail to Rainbow Lake at 11.6 miles, continue straight (right/north) toward the cone. Less than 0.5 mile farther, stay left (north) at a Y intersection, unless you want to climb the Cinder Cone. At the junction with the Nobles Emigrant Trail, which departs to the left (west) at 12.1 miles, stay right (north) and continue to the last trail intersection, with the main route to the summit of the Cinder Cone. From here follow the merged Cinder Cone and Nobles Emigrant Trail back to the Butte Lake day-­use area.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Butte Lake Trailhead. 0.7 Reach the overlook of Butte Lake, and then drop down and across Butte Creek

to the trail intersection. Go right (south) on the trail bordering the Butte Lake shoreline. 2.5 Reach the head of Butte Lake and the junction with the trail to Widow Lake. Stay

right on the trail signed for Snag and Jakey Lakes, among other destinations. 4.6 Crest a rolling wooded summit and descend toward Snag Lake. 5.3 Arrive on the east shore of Snag Lake. 7.2 At the junction with the trail to Cameron Meadow, Jakey Lake, and Juniper Lake,

stay right (southwest) toward Grassy Creek and Snag Lake. 7.7 At the junction with the trail leading up along Grassy Creek to Horseshoe Lake, stay

right (west) on the trail signed for Butte Lake. 8.3 Reach the junction with the signed trail that climbs left (west) to Rainbow Lake.

Stay right, tracing the shoreline of Snag Lake. 9.9 Pass the crescent beach at the edge of the Fantastic Lava Beds. 11.6 At the junction with the trail to Rainbow Lake in the cinder fields, stay right on the

path to Butte Lake. 11.9 At the junction with a trail leading to the base of the Cinder Cone, stay left and

continue a gentle climb. 12.1 Reach the junction with the Nobles Emigrant Trail to Hat Lake. Stay right to Butte

Lake. 12.8 At the junction with the trail leading to the summit of the Cinder Cone, stay left

(straight) on the merged Nobles Emigrant and Cinder Cone Trails toward Butte Lake. 13.7 Pass the trail leading to the summit of East Prospect Peak. Continue straight on the

main trail to Butte Lake. 14.1 Arrive back at the trailhead in the Butte Lake day-­use area.

178 Butte Lake

HONORABLE MENTIONS WIDOW LAKE Isolation. Two trails lead to Widow Lake within the park, but neither is easy, and both are seldom traveled. Traveling north from Jakey Lake, you must hike for miles through viewless forest on a path faded with disuse and sometimes completely obscured by deadfall and underbrush. The trail that leads up from the southern edge of Butte Lake includes a pitch steep enough to slow even the hardiest hiker to a crawl. The two difficult access routes conspire to make Widow Lake a locale of profound isolation. If you wish to visit Widow Lake, I recommend beginning at the Butte Lake Trailhead. The route can be either a strenuous out-­and-­back day hike of 7.2 miles or a backpacking destination.

A lone evergreen finds purchase atop the Fantastic Lava Beds.

Honorable Mentions 179

The Painted Dunes roll over the Fantastic Lava Beds.

From the easternmost trailhead in the picnic area (where there is parking, restrooms, and water), follow the foot-­worn path that leads east through the cinders and Jeffrey pines along the north shore of Butte Lake. Switchbacks climb to the summit of a steep knob, and down to the driftwood bridge that spans Butte Creek. On the east side of the creek, at the sign, go right (south) along the lakeshore. The lakeside path is overhung with evergreens, with Butte Lake a thinning strip of blue between the forest and the dark rock of the lava beds. The nature of the forest changes as you approach the head of Butte Lake, with quaking aspens, a relatively rare occurrence in the park, rustling in the gentlest breezes. The junction with the path to Widow Lake, obviously the one less traveled, breaks off to the left (southeast) at 2.5 miles (the other path leads to Snag Lake and beyond). The Widow Lake Trail follows the drainage carved by the lake’s outlet stream, which is usually dry by late summer. Cross the stream several times as you climb; the farther you go, the steeper it gets. At about the 3-mile mark, enter an area scarred by fire in 1987. Continuing upward, the creek corridor widens and meadowland creeps in. Skirt the south side of the meadow, then cross to its left (north) side and keep climbing. Cross the streambed yet again, then climb into a steep ravine; quick switchbacks hardly mitigate the climb, though the incline eases as the trail traces the southern edge of a talus slope. The route doesn’t mellow until it arrives at near the west shore of Widow Lake at about 3.6 miles. The trail swings around to the lake’s south shore and then departs on the cross-­country route that links the Red Cinder Cone and Jakey Lake. Unless you plan to follow this route, return as you came. 180  Honorable Mentions

RAINBOW AND SNAG LAKES LOOP This tour, a popular option among backpackers in the park, cruises past the Cinder Cone before climbing to secluded Rainbow Lake, then drops by Snag Lake and the Fantastic Lava Beds on its way back to the Cinder Cone and Butte Lake. The lollipop encompasses about 14 miles round-­trip and includes some strenuous climbs, descents, and trail surfaces, including cinders and a steep rocky pitch requiring the use of hands. You can also make this a long day hike, but be prepared to spend 6 to 8 hours on the trail. If you choose to make a backcountry camp along this loop, be sure to secure a backcountry permit and abide by the park’s backcountry guidelines. Begin at the trailhead for the Cinder Cone and the Nobles Emigrant Trails, which is near the boat ramp at the Butte Lake day-­use/picnic area. The first part of the trail sees a good deal of traffic; remain on the beaten path, as the footprints left by hikers straying from the main route leave permanent scars on the otherwise smooth cinder landscape. Climb past the junctions with signed trails to East Prospect Peak and the summit of the Cinder Cone, then pass a series of signed trail junctions on the south side of the volcano to the signed junction with the trail to Rainbow Lake and destinations beyond, including the Twin Lakes and Summit Lake (2.6 miles). This is the start of the loop portion of the route, which is described in a counterclockwise direction.You can do the loop in either direction. I’ve done it both ways, and even with my creaky knees, I believe the pitch of the trail between Rainbow and Snag Lakes is best tackled going downhill. Stay right on the Rainbow Lake Trail, which leads up through the cinder fields into the shade of Jeffrey pines. Proceed steadily uphill, skirting islands of cinders devoid of vegetation. As the forest thickens and stands of lodgepole pines and firs replace the Jeffreys, deadfall occasionally clutters the steepening trail. Cross an intermittent stream; the pitch moderates as you climb onto open benches that drop from the base of Fairfield Peak. Swales between the lips of the benches are sunny and spread with pinemat manzanita and wildflowers; stands of red fir separate one swale from the next. This terrain dominates to the border of the Rainbow Lake basin, where the climbing ends on the northeast shore of the peaceful lake. Set almost perfectly in the center of the park, Rainbow sees less traffic than the Twin Lakes, its neighbors to the southwest, and is the perfect spot for a backcountry camp or a mid-­hike meal. The trail from the Cinder Cone dead-­ends on the path that runs west to east from Lower Twin Lake to Snag Lake. A trail sign marks the spot. To continue the loop, turn left (east) onto the trail to Snag Lake. Leave the Rainbow Lake basin, and descend through more benchlands shaded by red firs. The pitch steepens abruptly as the path descends nearly 600 feet in the span of a mile. At about 6.7 miles, the trail meets the path that traces the western shore of Snag Lake. Turn left (north) and follow the Snag Lake trail through the standing snags that jut from the earth like grizzled stubble on an old man’s chin. At the north shore of Snag Lake, at about 7.9 miles, the Fantastic Lava Beds rear up in an impressive black dam. The crushed-­cinder trail continues northwest, wedged against the edge of the lava beds. The trail arcs north after 1.5 miles of cinder slogging, and the Cinder Cone comes into view.

Honorable Mentions 181

Close the loop at about the 12-mile mark. Make your way through the string of trail intersections that crowd around the base of the Cinder Cone, and then retrace your steps along the Cinder Cone Trail/Nobles Emigrant Trail to the Butte Lake Trailhead at 13.9 miles.

WILDLIFE IN THE PARK A generous diversity of species, both flora and fauna, can be found in Lassen Volcanic National Park, whether permanent residents or migrants. More than 700 species of plants grow in the park, including the gnarly whitebark pine and the vibrant leopard lily, as well as fungi, lichens, and mosses. More than 300 animals call Lassen home, including mammals (think black bear and mountain lion), amphibians (such as the rare Cascades frog), and more than 200 species of birds, including ninety-­six species that breed in the park. Eight species of bats take wing in the night skies, doing their best to keep the bugs at bay . . . I haven’t seen a count on insect species, but mosquitoes, yellow jackets, and biting flies are among them. Among the most famous mammals in Lassen is the pika, an adorable “rock rabbit” that abides in the alpine zone, the harshest ecosystem in the park. These critters are the subject of ongoing study, as they are an indicator species for the effects of climate change. Park visitors can adopt a pika through a program offered by the Lassen Association: Funds collected support field researchers and remote camera monitoring systems. The Pikas in Peril program, conducted in a number of national parks, focused on how warming temperatures affected conditions in the alpine talus fields pikas call home, and how, in turn, pika populations are adapting. Among the newest residents are gray wolves: Members of what’s known as the Lassen Pack have been spotted within the park boundaries. As of summer 2019, the Lassen Pack was the only gray wolf family known to call California home, and ranged throughout Lassen and Plumas Counties. Other wolves have been venturing into the state since 2011, and another pack, the Shasta Pack, occupied areas of Siskiyou County in 2014 and 2015, before they disappeared. Potential causes for the family’s dropping off the radar range from disease to depredation by human hunters. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife believes the Lassen Pack’s mating pair has produced at least three litters, and monitoring by the agency indicates the pack now consists of two or three adults or yearlings, and three pups.

182 Butte Lake

Juniper Lake Nothing quite compares to a large body of water when it comes to showcasing the weather. Open to the heavens, Juniper Lake is the perfect stage. When the sun is bright and high, glistening on the lake’s breeze-­rumpled surface and warming the beaches along its shore, the natural world couldn’t be more gentle and serene. When storm clouds gather over Lassen and a maelstrom of rain- and wind-­whipped whitecaps marches across the lake, that same natural world becomes inhospitable—and most hikers quickly forsake its shores for a comfy couch in front of a crackling fire. Juniper Lake dominates a high basin in the southeastern portion of Lassen Volcanic National Park. The largest lake in the park, it lies at the foot of Mount Harkness, a defunct shield volcano that flows across Lassen’s southern boundary. Hemmed in on all sides by a thick, mixed-­evergreen forest dominated by the stately red fir, Juniper Lake is the touchstone for trails in the area. The trailhead on its south shore offers access to Mount Harkness or a circumambulation of the lake. The Crystal Lake Trailhead is on

Juniper Lake destinations include the summit of Mount Harkness and secluded Jakey Lake.

183

the lake’s east shore, and from its north shore, trails lead to Inspiration Point, Horseshoe Lake, Jakey Lake, and down the Grassy Creek drainage to Snag Lake. If you choose to rest awhile, one of the best beaches in the park is at the picnic area at the north end of the lake. Accommodations at Juniper Lake are rustic, which adds to its charm. The campground offers eighteen campsites on a first-­come, first-­served basis. In addition to hiking and camping, visitors can swim, ride horses, and use nonmotorized boats on the lake. Two ranger stations serve this area—one near the campground on the south shore and one on the east shore of Horseshoe Lake. Check with park officials at the Manzanita Lake or Southwest Entrance Stations to determine whether the ranger stations will be staffed during your visit. To reach Juniper Lake from the Southwest Entrance Station, follow CA 89 south to its junction with CA 36. Turn left (east) on CA 36, and follow the merged highways east to the town of Chester. Turn left (north) onto the Feather River Road, and go 0.7 mile to the first road fork. Turn right (north) on the Juniper Lake Road (Plumas CR 318). (The left fork leads to the Warner Valley/Drakesbad area.) The Juniper Lake Road runs for 11.7 miles to the Juniper Lake Campground and 13.4 miles to its end at the Juniper Lake Picnic Area. The road is paved for its first 5.5 miles and then becomes gravel; the unpaved section is not suitable for trailers.

184 Juniper Lake

37 MOUNT HARKNESS WHY GO?

A hike to the top of one of the friendliest mountains in the park leads to great panoramic vistas from the lookout tower. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; loop Distance: 6.7 miles Hiking time: 4–5 hours Difficulty: Strenuous Best season: Midsummer through fall Maps: USGS Mount Harkness CA Special considerations: The summit of Mount Harkness is at more than 8,000 feet. Those not acclimatized may experience symptoms of altitude sickness, including headache, nausea, and fatigue. Should any of these symptoms

manifest, retreat immediately. No water is available on the mountain. If you drink from Juniper Lake, be sure to first purify the water by boiling, filtering, or chemically treating it. Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, a ranger station and fee station. Additional restrooms are available in the Juniper Lake Campground. The closest picnic area is at the northern tip of Juniper Lake, 1.7 miles north of the campground.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the town of Chester on CA 36, take the Feather River Road north for 0.7 mile to where the road forks. Go right (north) on the Juniper Lake Road (Plumas CR 318). Follow this road for 11.7 miles to the Juniper Lake Campground. The pavement ends after 5.5 miles; the park entrance signs are at 9 miles. Turn left (west) down the campground road (signed for Mount Harkness), and pull into the trailhead parking area on the right (north). GPS: N40 27.062' / W121 17.733'

THE HIKE

Gazing into the seemingly benign crater just below the summit of Mount Harkness, where the soil is just beginning to show its fertility by supporting pockets of silverleaf lupine, it’s hard to imagine that this once was an active shield volcano. Mount Harkness oozed fluid lava of the type that pours out of Hawaiian volcanoes, resulting in its broad, shieldLake Almanor, which like stance. Once that relatively gentle phase of its dominates the views south volcanism ended, Harkness birthed a cinder cone, from Mount Harkness, which spewed the crumbling red rock that now began to fill in 1914, when the Great Western Power adorns its upper slopes. Company completed the These days the mountain is a spectacular desAlmanor (Canyon) Dam on tination for hikers, its fiery past cloaked in stately the Feather River, flooding evergreen forests and busy wildflower meadows. what was known as Big Meadows. A lonely fire lookout stands atop the mountain, on the southern rim of the sloping crater. From here a park service sentinel watches the expansive forests surrounding Lassen Peak for whispers of smoke that presage wildfire. Hikers enjoy the same 360-degree views, looking west to the barren hulk of Lassen, south past Lake

185

Almanor, east to the distant Sierra Buttes, and north to the Cinder Cone and the twin Prospect Peaks. The hike begins amid the thick red fir forest that skirts Juniper Lake. From the parking area, walk down the campground road to the camp’s informational signs. Go left (southwest) at the signs to Campsite 5 and the signed Mount Harkness Lookout Trail. The trail climbs gently at first, but the pitch soon gets more serious, switchbacking across slopes that support blooms of wildflowers beneath the shade of the mixed-­ evergreen forest, as well as mats of vibrant green pinemat manzanita. Gradually the incline steepens and the forest thickens; level sections that are all too brief provide respite in the otherwise relentless, moderate, blissfully shaded ascent. The woods abruptly end as the trail reaches an open slope below the north face of the mountain. The slope assumes a more ominous demeanor at its eastern edge, where it sharpens into a dark, jagged cliff face. In summer, when the clover and other wild­ flowers are at their thickest, this slope is abuzz with insects, especially bees emitting a low hum like that of a distant motorboat or the family refrigerator. Traverse this slope, then switchback up into another pitched meadow and collect your first views of Lassen Peak to the northwest. Continue around the mountain to a trail intersection on the west-­facing slope at 1.9 miles. Warner Valley and the Juniper Lake outlet lie downhill to the right (west); you will take this trail on the return to make the loop. To reach the summit of Mount Harkness, continue left (straight/south) and up, following the snaking, ever-­ascending path across open slopes with great views. Round the last broad switchback and the lookout is in sight. The broad bowl to your left (northeast) is the crater, and a short spur trail leads west to an overlook of Lassen

Hikers are welcome to climb into the fire lookout atop Mount Harkness, when staffed, to take in the panoramic views.

186 Juniper Lake

C

0

MOUNT HARKNESS Horseshoe Lake

Kilometer

0 To Jakey Lake Trailhead

1 1

Mile

To Inspiration Point Trailhead

Private Cabins

To Horseshoe Lake

Indian Lake

CR 318

Crystal Lake

CR 318

Trailhead

Juniper Lake Juniper Lake Campground

Glen Lake

37

Jun ipe

r La k e

R

oa d

To Chester

Mo u n t H ar kn es s 8 ,645 f t . Lookout Tower

To Warner Valley

Peak. If you are lucky, the lookout will be staffed and you will be invited up to survey the scene. Krista Watters, the lookout in the 1998 summer season, was a wealth of information on the history of the lookout and the natural history and highlights of the panorama. Likewise Dave LaGroue in 2013, who allowed me to sight park features, including the “permanent smoke” of Terminal Geyser, using the lookout’s equipment. You can return to the trailhead as you came or complete the loop by going left (west) on the trail to Warner Valley and Juniper Lake from the trail junction below the summit. This path drops steeply down the west face of Mount Harkness, winding first through lupine meadow, then through darkening woodlands, and finally switchbacking through rocky gullies near the mountain’s base. Toward the end of the descent, the trail flattens for a stretch in a narrowing hollow and then climbs over a manzanita-­coated hummock to a trail intersection at 4.3 miles. The left (south) fork leads to Warner Valley; the center (northwest) trail leads to Horseshoe

HIKE 37 Mount Harkness 187

and Indian Lakes. The trail to the right (looping back northeast) completes this loop, leading back to the Juniper Lake Campground. Yellow dots mark the path to the lakeshore, leading past a shallow pond (dry in late summer). Juniper Lake, reached at the 4.8-mile mark, is lovely and, from a trailside perspective, has traded the deep blue it wore when viewed from the top of Mount Harkness for a blue-­g reen shade. The route rolls along the shoreline, with side trails leading down to little rocky beaches from which, if it is warm enough, you might want to take a dip before continuing. The route passes through a final meadow before reaching the campsites; reenter civilization at Campsite 16. Follow the campground road right (northeast) back to the parking area.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Mount Harkness Trailhead parking area. Follow the campground road

down to the trailhead proper. 0.2 Reach the signed start of the Mount Harkness summit trail, which is adjacent to

Campsite 5. Go left and begin the ascent. 0.8 The pitch moderates on a bench. 1.8 Traverse an open slope thick with silverleaf lupine. 1.9 At the trail junction stay left, climbing sweeping switchbacks across barren slopes

toward the summit. 2.3 Arrive at the lookout. Take in the views, and then retreat to the trail junction. 2.7 Back at the intersection turn left, following the signs toward Warner Valley. 4.3 Complete the long, rocky descent at a three-­way trail junction. Take the right-­hand

path toward Juniper Lake. 4.8 Arrive on the Juniper Lake shoreline. Continue east on the roller-­coaster path. 6.3 Reach the Juniper Lake Campground at Campsite 16. Follow the campground road

back toward the trailhead. 6.5 Pass the signed trailhead. 6.7 Arrive back at the trailhead parking area.

188 Juniper Lake

38 JUNIPER LAKE LOOP WHY GO?

This flat, easy route circumnavigates lovely Juniper Lake. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; loop Distance: 6.4 miles Hiking time: 3–4 hours Difficulty: Easy Best season: Late spring through fall Maps: USGS Mount Harkness CA

Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, a ranger station and fee station. Additional restrooms are available in the Juniper Lake Campground. The closest picnic area is at the northern tip of Juniper Lake, 1.7 miles north of the campground.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From the town of Chester on CA 36, take the Feather River Road north for 0.7 mile to where the road forks. Go right (north) on the Juniper Lake Road (Plumas CR 318). Follow this road for 11.7 miles to the Juniper Lake Campground. The pavement ends after 5.5 miles; the park entrance signs are at 9 miles. Turn left (west) down the campground road (signed for Mount Harkness) and pull into the trailhead parking area on the right (north). GPS: N40 27.062' / W121 17.733'

THE HIKE

Though by no means a wilderness trek, the loop around Juniper Lake is the perfect easy day hike for a family camping at Juniper Lake, for the angler, or for anyone who wants to enjoy the lake’s environs without gaining a lot of altitude.You might even work up a case of cabin envy, as the route passes a number of private properties on the west shore of the lake. From the parking area near the ranger station, follow the campground road down to the lakeside, picking up the trail near Campsite 16 at about 0.4 mile. A trail sign marks the spot. The trail passes through a small marshy meadow and then embarks on a tour of the lake’s south shore, closely tracing every wooded nook and tiny cove. Though basically flat, the footpath does twist in and out and dip up and down, a roller coaster without wheels. About 1 mile into the hike, the trail drops to a rocky beach right on the waterline, then heads back into the woods above the lake. At about the 1.5-mile mark, the trail veers south, away from the lakeshore and into the woods at the foot of Mount Harkness’s western slope. Pass a vernal pool, often dry by late summer, and at 2.4 miles reach a four-­way trail junction. The center trail leads straight (southwest) to the Warner Valley, the route to the left (east) climbs to the summit of Mount Harkness, and the trail to the right (north) goes to Indian Lake. A trail sign makes all this abundantly clear. The loop continues by following the trail toward Indian Lake. Climb over a hillock spread with pinemat manzanita, drop through the skinny bed of a seasonal stream, and then ford Juniper Lake’s outlet stream to the next trail intersection at 2.6 miles. The left (northwest) fork leads to Indian Lake; stay right (north) on the trail signed for the Juniper Lake Ranger Station.

189

A short, steep pitch leads out of the ravine that cradles the outlet stream and back onto the relatively flat cruise above the lakeshore. Yellow dots on the trees mark the route. Landmarks include a marsh on the right (east) side of the trail, a nice little bay and beach (also on the lake side of the trail), and a couple of steep ravines carved by creeks that are dry by late summer or early fall. At about the 3.5-mile mark, you’ll encounter the first of a strip of private cabins along the west shore of Juniper Lake. The narrow trail dumps onto a rough road at this point, which serves as access for those lucky enough to have property with a lake view. A trail sign and a gate mark the terminus of the footpath. Continue north on the dirt roadbed; easy and meditative walking leads past cabins scattered in the woods. I call this walk-­and-­talk terrain, where you can hike side by side with a companion and not fear the consequences of a misstep if your attention wanders. The Juniper Lake picnic area is at 4.9 miles. From here, follow the Juniper Lake access road back to the campground—more walk-­and-­talk terrain, with gorgeous lake views and the occasional slow-­moving automobile. Trail’s end is at 6.4 miles, in the trailhead parking area.

A long, easy loop circumnavigates Juniper Lake.

190 Juniper Lake

C

0

JUNIPER LAKE LOOP

0 To Jakey Lake

Horseshoe Lake

Kilometer

1 1

Mile

To Inspiration Point Trailhead

Trailhead Private Cabins

To Horseshoe Lake

Indian Lake

CR 318

CR 318

Crystal Lake

Trailhead

Juniper Lake Juniper Lake Campground

Glen Lake

38

Jun ipe

r La k e

R

oa d

To Chester

Mo u n t H ar kn es s 8 ,645 f t . Lookout Tower

To Warner Valley

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Juniper Lake/Mount Harkness Trailhead parking area. Walk down the

campground road to pick up the trail at Campsite 16. 2.4 Reach the trail junction at the base of Mount Harkness’s west slope. Stay right,

heading toward Horseshoe and Indian Lakes. 2.6 Pass the junction with the trail to Indian Lake, again staying right on the lakeside

trail. 4.9 Reach the Juniper Lake Picnic Area. Follow the Juniper Lake Road to complete the

loop. 6.4 Arrive back at the Juniper Lake Campground.

HIKE 38 Juniper Lake Loop 191

39 CRYSTAL LAKE WHY GO?

This short, steep climb leads to a small tarn in a spectacular rock basin. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 0.8 mile Hiking time: About 1 hour Difficulty: Steep but easy Best season: Midsummer through fall Maps: USGS Mount Harkness CA Trailhead amenities: A small parking area. For restrooms and

picnic facilities, continue north on the Juniper Lake Road for 1.4 miles to the Juniper Lake Picnic Area. Restrooms are also available at the Juniper Lake Campground, located 0.3 mile south on the Juniper Lake Road.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From CA 36 in Chester, take the Feather River Road north for 0.7 mile to the fork. Go right (northwest) on the signed Juniper Lake Road (Plumas CR 318). Follow the Juniper Lake Road for 11.7 miles to the Juniper Lake Campground. The pavement ends after 5.5 miles; the park entrance signs are at 9 miles. Continue 0.3 mile north of the campground access road to a small parking area at the signed trailhead, which is on the right (east) side of the gravel road. GPS: N40 27.258' / W121 17.768'

Sunwashed stone slabs invite lounging on the shores of Crystal Lake.

192

C

Horseshoe Lake

Kilometer

0

CRYSTAL LAKE

0 To Jakey Lake Trailhead

1 1

Mile

To Inspiration Point Trailhead

Private Cabins

To Horseshoe Lake

Indian Lake

CR 318

Crystal Lake

CR 318

39

Juniper Lake Glen Lake

Juniper Lake Campground Trailhead

Jun ipe

r La k e

R

oa d

To Chester

Mo u n t H ar kn es s 8 ,645 f t . Lookout Tower

To Warner Valley

THE HIKE

Crystal Lake is a perfect goal for the adventurous family camped at Juniper Lake or for the day hiker with limited time or stamina (or both). The ascent to the small, sunny lake is short, with switchbacks doing an almost adequate job of moderating the steepness. The trail may be brief, but it is challenging enough to get the heart pumping and the thighs burning. Crystal Lake rests in a depression at the lip of a rock-­r immed bowl. Folds of gray rock, which serve perfectly as seats for contemplation, spill into the clear water; hikers can clamber over these rocks to explore the far shore of the lake, which is equally inviting. The trail begins in the woods and crosses the lake’s outlet creek almost immediately. Yellow dots on the trees mark the easy-­to-­follow trail. The climb away from the Juniper Lake Road is moderate at first, gradually growing steeper (and steeper) as it snakes through the firs and pines.

HIKE 39 Crystal Lake 193

The forest opens as the pitch of the trail abruptly sharpens, allowing greenleaf manzanita to grow beyond the throw-­rug stage into shrubs standing 2 to 3 feet high. Cross the creek again (dry in late season), and continue the upward traverse. Climb one switchback, round a broader S-­curve, and then ascend two more switchbacks to the final pitch, which leads up alongside the lake’s outlet stream. The trail veers right (northeast) onto folded rock benches at the southern edge of the lake at 0.4 mile. Clamber about or sit for a spell, admiring the lake’s classic rock-­r im setting and the red cinder hummock to the northeast. When you are ready, return as you came, enjoying views of Mount Harkness and Juniper Lake at the top of the descent.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Crystal Lake Trailhead. 0.4 Reach the shore of Crystal Lake. Take a breather on the sun-­baked rocks, and then

retrace your steps. 0.8 Arrive back at the trailhead.

194 Juniper Lake

40 INSPIRATION POINT WHY GO?

Climb to Inspiration Point and take in a spectacular panorama that includes Lassen Peak, East Prospect Peak, and Mount Harkness—and even Mount Shasta on a clear day. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 1.4 miles Hiking time: About 1 hour Difficulty: Moderate due only to the steady climb Best season: Early summer through fall

Maps: USGS Mount Harkness CA Trailhead amenities: Small parking area. Restrooms, additional parking, and picnic facilities are available at the adjacent Juniper Lake Picnic Area.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From CA 36 in the town of Chester, take the Feather River Road north for 0.7 mile to the Y intersection. Go right (north) on the Juniper Lake Road (Plumas CR 318); the left (northwest) fork leads to Drakesbad/the Warner Valley. Follow the Juniper Lake Road for 13.4 miles to the picnic area at the north end of Juniper Lake. The pavement ends after 5.5 miles, the park entrance signs are at 9 miles, and Juniper Lake Campground is at 11.7 miles. The small parking area is to the right (north) of the gravel road, about 50 feet east of the picnic area parking lot. GPS: N40 28.013' / W121 18.463'

THE HIKE

To the north, East Prospect Peak hovers over the Cinder Cone, the Fantastic Lava Beds, and Snag Lake. The Red Cinder Cone and Red Cinder rise out of a broad expanse of forest that spreads northeast. Looking south, Juniper Lake lies cool and blue below the bald summit of Mount Harkness. To the west, just visible through gaps in the crowns of the trees, Lassen Peak, barren and streaked with snow even as the season edges from summer to fall, lords over it all. These wonderful views are more than ample reward for making the quick climb to Inspiration Point. I climb the short trail for more than this, however. In some places in Lassen the quiet is profound and soul-­soothing. Often these places are far afield. In this case, access is relatively simple.Visiting the point has become a parting pleasure when I’m in the park, in the same way dipping my toes in Emerald Lake has become part of my “I’ve arrived” ritual. The trail begins at the northern edge of the gravel parking area and begins to climb immediately, ascending through a forest dominated by red firs and spotted with a patchwork of small meadows and plots of manzanita. After 0.2 mile the path steepens, winding upward to an open, sunny bench. Traverse north and east across the bench; the incline of the trail moderates for the crossing. Once you’re back in the forest, quick switchbacks lead up a final pitch that ends on the crest of a ridge overgrown with manzanita. The trail veers left (west), climbing to the summit of the rocky knoll dubbed Inspiration Point at 0.7 mile. 195

Snag Lake and the Cinder Cone are among the park landmarks that can be seen from Inspiration Point.

G

0

INSPIRATION POINT

Kilometer

0

Mile

1 1

kT rail

To Cameron Meadow

G ras sy

Cre e

Jakey Lake

Inspiration Point

To Horseshoe Lake

Trailhead

40

Private Cabins CR 318

Crystal Lake Juniper Lake

When the sun warms the rocks that serve as seats from which to contemplate the panorama, it’s nearly impossible to tear yourself away.When you do, follow the same path back to the trailhead.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the signed trailhead near the Juniper Lake Picnic Area. 0.7 Reach Inspiration Point. Take in the views, and then retrace your steps. 1.4 Arrive back at the trailhead.

198 Juniper Lake

41 JAKEY LAKE WHY GO?

Chances are that even in the height of the summer season, you’ll have lonely, lovely Jakey Lake all to yourself. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike or backpack; out-­and-­back Distance: 6.0 miles Hiking time: 3–4 hours Difficulty: Moderate Best season: Midsummer to early fall Maps: USGS Mount Harkness CA Special considerations: There is no potable water at the trailhead or along the route. Either pack in all the water you’ll need or boil, filter, or chemically purify water from Jakey

Lake. If you backpack to Jakey Lake and/or points beyond, secure a backcountry permit and set up camp at least 100 feet away from water sources and trails. Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, picnic facilities, information signboard. Camping is available at the Juniper Lake Campground, 1.7 miles south on the Juniper Lake Road.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From CA 36 in the town of Chester, take the Feather River Road north for 0.7 mile to the Y intersection. Go right (north) on the Juniper Lake Road (Plumas CR 318); the left (northwest) fork leads to Drakesbad/the Warner Valley. Follow the Juniper Lake Road for 13.4 miles to the picnic area at the north end of Juniper Lake. The pavement ends after 5.5 miles, the park entrance signs are at 9 miles, and Juniper Lake Campground is at 11.7 miles. GPS: N40 28.017' / W121 18.553'

THE HIKE

Jakey Lake is embedded so deeply in the backcountry that hiking to its shores is akin to stepping back in time. The route is little used; the only signs of life I have ever seen on the winding, overgrown path have been the scat of forest animals and the prints of deer and something with claws—raccoon? Coyote? Baby bear? Nary a waffle stomp in sight, let alone a person in the flesh. If you thrive on solitude, this trail’s for you. Jakey Lake is a particularly fine wilderness lake. It is entirely circled by thick woodland, which screens any sign of the park’s lofty landmarks, including Lassen Peak. But the bottle-­g reen water is clear, and patches of meadow along the shoreline are inviting, particularly when they’ve dried out a bit and a breeze blows the bugs away. The route begins on the west side of the Juniper Lake Picnic Area parking lot. A trail sign denotes the trail to both Jakey and Snag Lakes; go right (northwest) on the marked route. The next sign and trail fork are about 50 yards beyond, where potential destinations and corresponding mileages are detailed more extensively. Go right (north) on the trail to Cameron Meadow and Jakey Lake. Yellow dots mark the route through the open woodland; it’s a fairly easy and straightforward uphill track through the rolling, fir-­forested terrain common around Juniper Lake. Crest the rim of the Juniper Lake basin; the trail flattens briefly before beginning a steep descent. East Prospect Peak is just visible through the trees to the north. The

199

path levels in a small meadow, and then plunges down switchbacks to another stretch of meadow and a trail intersection at 1.4 miles. The trail to Jakey Lake breaks off to the right (east); the trail to the left (northwest) leads to Cameron Meadow and Snag Lake. Yellow dots, sparse and sometimes rusted over, aid in route finding. The Jakey Lake trail climbs gently through the woods, crossing a small streamlet that dries up in late season, then proceeds to a more substantial stream. Continue to ascend, following the creekbed as both terrain and trail grow more rugged. Cross the creek at the 1.9-mile mark; a meadow opens on the right (south) side of the trail. A broad, marshy, no-­name lake sprawls among the grasses—or perhaps it’s the grasses that sprawl across the pond. Either way, the bugs can be extremely bothersome at this point. The trail skirts the left (north) side of the meadow, passing a copse of willow before climbing fairly steeply onto a bench, where a huge fallen tree blocks the path. Negotiating deadfall from this point on involves going over, under, and around the debris as you climb. The trail flattens and continues eastward until it returns to the bank of the stream. Scramble over another large fallen tree prior to making the final approach to Jakey Lake.

Jakey Lake is off the beaten path, the perfect destination for hikers seeking solitude.

200 Juniper Lake

0

JAKEY LAKE

0

Kilometer

1

Mile

To Cameron Meadow

To Horseshoe Lake

1 To Widow Lake

Jakey Lake

Inspiration Point

To Horseshoe Lake

41

Trailhead

Private Cabins

CR 318

The lake, tucked in its shallow, forested bowl and rimmed with a thin ribbon of verdant grass, is at the 3-mile mark. Enjoy the solitude, and then return the way you came.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Juniper Lake Picnic Area trailhead. 0.5 Crest the rim of the Juniper Lake basin. 1.4 At the trail junction to Cameron Meadow, turn right onto the signed route to Jakey

Lake. 1.9 Cross a streamlet and pass a no-­name lake on the right side of the trail. 3.0 Reach Jakey Lake. Relax awhile, and then retrace your steps. 6.0 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Option: Topographic trail maps indicate that Widow Lake, another remote alpine tarn, can be reached by continuing on the path that skirts the south shore of Jakey Lake. The trail is little used, and becomes increasingly sketchy as it passes below the Red Cinder Cone and Red Cinder. Take this trail only if you are a skilled cross-­country traveler, and get information from park rangers about trail conditions before tackling the route.

HIKE 41 Jakey Lake 201

42 CAMERON MEADOW AND GRASSY CREEK LOOP WHY GO?

The canyon that cradles Grassy Creek, sometimes steep and always lush with riparian plants, is a saunterer’s joy. Three good-­size lakes add spice to this long, pleasant, backcountry ramble. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike or backpack; loop Distance: 8.2 miles Hiking time: 5–6 hours Difficulty: Strenuous Best season: Midsummer through fall Maps: USGS Mount Harkness CA and Prospect Peak CA Special considerations: No potable water is available at the trailhead or along the route. Either pack in all the water you’ll need or boil, filter, or

chemically purify water from lakes or streams. If you camp near Snag Lake, secure a backcountry permit and set up camp at least 100 feet away from water sources and trails. Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, picnic facilities, information signboard. Camping is available at the Juniper Lake Campground, 1.7 miles south on the Juniper Lake Road.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From CA 36 in the town of Chester, take the Feather River Road north for 0.7 mile to the Y intersection. Go right (north) on the Juniper Lake Road (Plumas CR 318); the left (northwest) fork leads to Drakesbad/the Warner Valley. Follow the Juniper Lake Road for 13.4 miles to the picnic area at the north end of Juniper Lake. The pavement ends after 5.5 miles, the park entrance signs are at 9 miles, and Juniper Lake Campground is at 11.7 miles. GPS: N40 28.017' / W121 18.553'

THE HIKE

Sometimes spilling in dramatic cataracts, sometimes gurgling over jumbles of river cobbles, sometimes carving a sinuous path through luminously green meadows, Grassy Creek presents many faces. It is only one focal point of this multifaceted trail loop, which also weaves through dense forest, passes the southern reaches of Snag Lake, and skirts the heavily wooded shores of Horseshoe Lake.You can even catch views of Lassen Peak on the final ascent—a gratifying parting shot before you rest on the beach on the north shore of Juniper Lake. The loop is described in a counterclockwise direction, but this is a purely arbitrary decision—there are no serious steeps that make this choice wiser than the alternative. A cutoff trail lies midway between Juniper and Snag Lakes, offering an out for those who become footsore or run short on time. The first part of this trail mimics the route to Jakey Lake. Start on the west side of the Juniper Lake picnic area parking lot, picking up the signed trail to Snag and Jakey Lakes. Walk about 50 yards to the next signed trail junction, and go right (north) on the signed trail to Cameron Meadow and Jakey Lake.

202

Hike north and uphill through an open woodland to the crest of the Juniper Lake basin. The trail flattens briefly as it crosses the ridge, and then heads sharply downhill on a descent that is broken only briefly by a small meadow. Arrive at the junction of the trail to Jakey Lake at 1.4 miles; stay left (straight) on the path leading to Cameron Meadow and Snag Lake. The trail to Cameron Meadow continues downhill to a stream crossing, and then to the intersection with the shortcut trail at 1.7 miles. The shortcut leads left (west) to Grassy Creek and Horseshoe Lake; stay right (north) into Cameron Meadow. The heart of Cameron Meadow lies to the right (east) of the footpath at about the 2-mile mark. Cross one of the streamlets that water the meadow—yellow dots mark the way—and continue on the now-­flat path. Enough light filters through the forest canopy to propagate a lush green understory of ferns, grasses, and wildflowers. It’s a lively if buggy place, filled with color and light. A final descent through the woods lands you near the south shore of Snag Lake at 3.1 miles. The bulk of the lake can’t be seen through thick stands of timber, but when bathed in sunlight it shimmers bright and white between the trunks. At the trail intersection go left (west) toward Horseshoe Lake; the right-­hand (east) trail leads to Butte Lake.

Grassy Creek waters a meadow just below Horseshoe Lake.

HIKE 42 Cameron Meadow and Grassy Creek Loop 203

A cataract enlivens the hike along Grassy Creek.

The trail proceeds through a marsh spanned in spots by rustic log boardwalks that both help protect the tender vegetation and keep boots dry. Yet another chance to get soggy feet presents itself at the crossing of Grassy Creek. Test your balance on logs and/or rocks to get to the west bank. The trail continues west through woodland and then curves south and uphill to the next trail intersection at 3.8 miles. To continue the loop, turn left (south) on the trail to Horseshoe and Juniper Lakes. The trail to the right (north) leads to Butte Lake and other destinations. The trail begins to climb now, though not painfully. At this point, your only clue that Grassy Creek is in the proximity is the whine of mosquitoes and the flutter of dragonflies and damselflies in pursuit of their favorite prey. The trail levels in a small meadow, where the rumble of the stream becomes louder. About 0.1 mile farther, the creek appears below and to the left (east). Tumbling cataracts enliven the route, which ascends into the deep shade of a draw. Ferns, willows, grasses, wildflowers, and other riparian flora line the creek’s course—it’s clear how it earned its name. A steep pitch leads to an open spot where flat rocks offer an opportunity to sit and enjoy the cataract. Beyond, wander through willows and cross an area where the steep hillside has slid. The track across the slide is narrow but the footing is good. At about the 5-mile mark, the draw opens a bit and Grassy Creek meanders through a narrow meadow. The shortcut trail you passed on the way to Cameron Meadow intersects the Grassy Creek trail at 5.4 miles, coming in from the left (east).

204 Juniper Lake

0

CAMERON MEADOW AND GRASSY CREEK LOOP

0

1 1

Mile

Snag Lake

C re e k

To Cinder Cone

Kilometer

G ra

s sy

Hidden Lake

Cameron Meadow

To Twin Lakes Inspiration Point

To Jakey Lake

Horseshoe Lake

42

Trailhead

Private Cabins

Indian Lake

CR 318

CR 318

Juniper Lake

Crystal Lake

Trailhead Juniper Lake Campground

To Chester

To Warner Valley

To Mount Harkness

About 50 yards beyond the trail intersection, the meadow widens considerably and the trail skirts its right (west) side before the draw closes in again. Continue up the creek for another 0.25 mile or so to the next opening, where meadow grasses flourish and, again, the trail sticks to the right (west) side. Climb up and over a wooded hummock, and then drop into more meadowlands. Trace the edge of the meadow to the trail crossing on the west bank of Grassy Creek at 6.5 miles. It’s clear at this point that Grassy Creek is the outlet for Horseshoe Lake, which arcs south and west of the trail intersection, hidden behind a screen of evergreens. The loop continues to the left (east), where the trail sign indicates that Juniper Lake— the end of the line—lies ahead. The trail to the right (west) leads around Horseshoe Lake and links to trails leading to Lower Twin Lake and the Warner Valley. Cross Grassy Creek on a split-­log bridge, then hike past the Horseshoe Lake Ranger Station to the next trail intersection. The trail to Indian Lake breaks off to the right (south); keep left (east) to stay on the loop, which now follows an old roadbed. The broad track climbs easily at first, but the pitch steepens as it rolls over benches below the crest of the rim separating the Horseshoe Lake basin from Juniper Lake. As you approach the summit of the saddle, turn around and look west; Lassen Peak rises in the distance, framed by red firs. The top of the saddle is nice and flat, with pinemat manzanita blanketing open spaces. Dropping toward Juniper Lake, the forest becomes much denser. Juniper Lake comes into view off to the right (south). Arrive back at the trailhead at 8.2 miles.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Juniper Lake Picnic Area trailhead. 0.5 Crest the rim of the Juniper Lake basin. 1.4 At the junction with the trail to Jakey Lake, stay left (straight) on the signed route to

Snag Lake. 1.7 Pass the shortcut trail, which breaks off to the left. Stay right, descending through

Cameron Meadow. 3.1 Arrive at the trail junction at Snag Lake; go left. 3.8 Reach the junction with the trail leading up Grassy Creek to Horseshoe Lake; keep

left. The right-­hand track leads to Snag, Rainbow, and Butte Lakes. 5.1 Footbridges lead across Grassy Creek. 5.4 Pass the other end of the shortcut trail, which is on the left. Stay right on the main

track. 6.5 Reach Horseshoe Lake. Go left at the signed trail junction, passing the ranger sta-

tion and heading toward Juniper Lake. 8.2 Arrive back at the Juniper Lake trailhead.

Option: If you take the shortcut trail, this is what you’ll see: Beginning at Cameron Meadow, the narrow path makes a steep ascent through the woods and then levels in a small, verdant, insect-­infested meadow. Pass the meadow on its south side, climb through widely spaced trees, and then cross a second tiny meadow. The trail rolls over the top of a knoll, then dives down through meadowy grasses to Grassy Creek. Cross logs to the trail intersection on the west side of the creekbed, where you can turn left (south) to Horseshoe Lake or right (north) to Snag Lake. The cutoff trail is about 1 mile long. 206 Juniper Lake

43 HORSESHOE LAKE WHY GO?

Enjoy tree-­framed views of Lassen Peak on this hike between the wooded shorelines of two scenic lakes. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 3.0 miles Hiking time: 2–3 hours Difficulty: Easy Best season: Midsummer through fall Maps: USGS Mount Harkness CA

Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, picnic facilities, trash cans, information signboard. Camping is available at Juniper Lake Campground, 1.7 miles south on the Juniper Lake Road.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From CA 36 in the town of Chester, take the Feather River Road north for 0.7 mile to the Y intersection. Go right (north) on the signed Juniper Lake Road (Plumas CR 318); the left (northwest) fork leads to the Warner Valley. Follow the Juniper Lake Road for 13.4 miles to the picnic area at the north end of Juniper Lake. The pavement ends after 5.5 miles; Juniper Lake Campground is at 11.7 miles. GPS: N40 27.995' / W121 18.553'

THE HIKE

The phrase is hackneyed but apt: The hike from Juniper Lake to Horseshoe Lake is short and sweet. The track is wide and impossible to lose, the climbing is moderate, the view of Lassen Peak from the saddle is lovely, and a restful lake lies at either end of the trail. It is the perfect choice for a day hike with the family or a good buddy—you can walk side by side and discuss conservation, or the meaning of life, or nothing important at all, without fear of getting lost or missing the best vistas. The trail begins at the information signboard on the west side of the Juniper Lake Picnic Area parking lot. Go right (northwest) on the trail to Snag and Jakey Lakes, walk a short distance to the next sign and trail junction, and turn left (northwest) on the broad track. The trail sign indicates Horseshoe Lake is 1.4 miles ahead and lists other destinations that can be reached via the same trail. The initial uphill section is short and heavily shaded by a thick red fir forest. Reach the crest of the saddle separating the two lakes at 0.5 mile. The trees are more widely spaced on the broad divide, and Lassen Peak rises directly west, its pink and snowy slopes sharply outlined against the deep blue of the high-­country sky. It’s all downhill from the summit of the saddle to Horseshoe Lake. Though the trail winds through more open forest, the vistas quickly disappear as you lose altitude. At 1.3 miles the trail flattens in a clearing; the trail to Indian Lake breaks off to the left (south). The Horseshoe Lake Ranger Station is nestled in a stand of trees on the southwest side of the clearing. Continue west behind the ranger station, crossing Grassy Creek to a trail junction. Go left (the right-­hand path leads down to Snag Lake), and continue to the shoreline of Horseshoe Lake at 1.5 miles.

207

0

HORSESHOE LAKE

0

1 1

Mile

Snag Lake

C re e k

To Cinder Cone

Kilometer

G ra

s sy

Hidden Lake

Cameron Meadow

To Twin Lakes Inspiration Point

To Jakey Lake

Horseshoe Lake

43

Trailhead

Private Cabins

Indian Lake

CR 318

CR 318

Juniper Lake

Crystal Lake

Trailhead Juniper Lake Campground

To Chester

To Warner Valley

To Mount Harkness

Horseshoe Lake, aside from being a destination in itself, is a trail hub in Lassen’s backcountry. And yes, you can see Lassen’s summit from here.

Good views of the lake are elusive; it pulls its woodland cloak right to its edge. The trail narrows as it wanders the shoreline, and narrow spurs lead down to resting spots at the waterside. The clearing at the ranger station is another inviting picnic spot. Unless you choose to continue to Indian Lake or some other destination, this is the end of the line. Return as you came.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Juniper Lake Picnic Area at the signed trailhead. After about 150 feet go

left on the signed trail to Horseshoe Lake. 0.5 Reach the top of the saddle. 1.3 Arrive at the Horseshoe Lake Ranger Station. Head around behind the station, cross

Grassy Creek on a split-­log bridge, and go left to Horseshoe Lake. 1.5 Arrive on the Horseshoe lakeshore. Rest and explore, then return to the trail junction

in front of the ranger station and go left to retrace your steps. 3.0 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Options: The convergence of trails at the Horseshoe Lake Ranger Station offers access to other remote destinations in the eastern and central reaches of the park. A nice loop to the south connects Horseshoe, Indian, and Juniper Lakes; another nice loop to the north links Horseshoe Lake with Snag Lake and Cameron Meadow. You can also travel cross-­park from from Horseshoe Lake to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Heading south from there leads through the Grassy Swale and offers links to Kings Creek, Summit Lake, and the Warner Valley. Head north and you can access the Twin Lakes, the Cluster Lakes, Butte Lake, and then continue on to Canada if you choose.

HIKE 43 Horseshoe Lake 209

44 HORSESHOE AND INDIAN LAKES LOOP WHY GO?

Three lakes and vistas of two prominent volcanoes accent this loop. Little Indian Lake plays hide-­and-­seek in a shallow basin at the apex of the trail. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; loop Distance: 6.6 miles Hiking time: 4–5 hours Difficulty: Moderate Best season: Midsummer through fall Maps: USGS Mount Harkness CA Special considerations: There is no potable water along the trail. If you must drink from any of the lakes

along the route, be sure to purify the water first. Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, picnic facilities, trash cans, information signboard. Camping is available at Juniper Lake Campground, 1.7 miles south on the Juniper Lake Road.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From CA 36 in the town of Chester, take the Feather River Road north for 0.7 mile to the Y intersection. Go right (north) on the signed Juniper Lake Road (Plumas CR 318); the left (northwest) fork leads to the Warner Valley. Follow the Juniper Lake Road for 13.4 miles to the picnic area at the north end of Juniper Lake. The pavement ends after 5.5 miles; Juniper Lake Campground is at 11.7 miles. GPS: N40 27.995' / W121 18.553'

THE HIKE

Though Indian Lake lies within 0.25 mile of a designated trail, you’ll be treated to a whisper of cross-­country adventure. The path to the lakeshore is little more than a game trail, and the tiny lily pad–covered tarn is tucked in a rather steep-­walled basin, out of sight of Lassen’s familiar landmarks. Savor the seclusion, soaking in quiet sunshine on the lake’s narrow beaches. On the trail to and from the lake, those familiar park landmarks are in abundant evidence.You can enjoy views of Lassen Peak from the saddle between Juniper and Horseshoe Lakes, as well as on the climb to Indian Lake, and Mount Harkness dominates the southeastern horizon on the descent from the trail’s high point. As with all loops, this one can be hiked in either direction; it is described here counterclockwise, finishing with a flat and easy walk along the shores of Juniper Lake. The trail begins on the west side of the Juniper Lake Picnic Area parking lot at the information signboard. Go right (northwest) on the signed trail to Snag and Jakey Lakes, then walk about 150 feet to the next trail junction and go left (northwest) on the signed trail to Horseshoe Lake. The trail to the right leads to Jakey Lake and other destinations to the north and east. The broad track climbs westward through a forest dominated by red firs to the crest of the saddle at 0.5 mile. Lassen Peak rises to the west, framed by the widely spaced trees.

210

Lily pads crowd the surface of tiny, secluded Indian Lake.

Continue down on the broad, winding track to the junction with the trail to Indian Lake at 1.3 miles, in a clearing near the eastern shore of Horseshoe Lake. The Horseshoe Lake Ranger Station is 100 feet west of the intersection. Walk behind the ranger station to cross Grassy Creek on a split-­log bridge, then go left to visit Horseshoe Lake. The lakeshore is at 1.5 miles. Retrace your steps to the trail junction in front of the ranger station, and take the trail to Indian Lake. Though the path traces the shoreline of Horseshoe Lake, a wall of thick trees hides the water. Enjoy a brief stretch of easy hiking; within 0.25 mile the big up begins. This steady climb winds through fir forest and patches of manzanita, with a single flat bench breaking the ascent. Beyond the bench, the trail climbs out of the fir forest and onto more exposed slopes, where low-­growing manzanita offers no shade from the summer sun. Widely spaced stands of evergreens shadow the trail as it tops out on a broad, wind-­ whipped ridge. The views are great: Scanning northwest to southwest you can see West Prospect Peak, Hat Mountain, the Chaos Crags, Lassen Peak, Pilot Pinnacle, and Mount Diller, among others.

HIKE 44 Horseshoe and Indian Lakes Loop 211

0

HORSESHOE AND INDIAN LAKES LOOP

0

1 1

Mile

Snag Lake

C re e k

To Cinder Cone

Kilometer

G ra

s sy

Hidden Lake

Cameron Meadow

To Twin Lakes Inspiration Point

To Jakey Lake

Horseshoe Lake

44

Trailhead

Private Cabins

Indian Lake

CR 318

CR 318

Juniper Lake

Crystal Lake

Trailhead Juniper Lake Campground

To Chester

To Warner Valley

To Mount Harkness

Drop down the south side of the ridge over rolling terrain.Yellow dots have replaced gold medals as blazes on the trees, and views of Mount Harkness have replaced those of Lassen Peak. Reach the Indian Lake trail sign at the 2.9-mile mark. The social trail to the lake, which lies in a rocky depression to the left (east), drops about 100 feet and less than 0.2 mile to the lakeshore. The evergreens, meadow grasses, wildflowers, and still water conspire to create a lovely setting for rest, contemplation, and picnicking. When you’re ready, climb back onto the main trail and go left (southeast), walking through open forest and passing a pond covered with lily pads and a spill of talus as you continue. Skirt another little pond in a sink on the right (west), then begin to descend in earnest toward Juniper Lake and the base of Mount Harkness, the trail rolling over sunlit terraces as it drops. Forest closes in on the path as you reach the trail intersection near Juniper Lake’s outlet stream at 4.3 miles. Turn sharply left (north) to continue the loop; the right-­hand trail leads east and south to Mount Harkness and the Warner Valley. The climb away from the outlet stream is steep but short. A relatively flat track traces the shore of Juniper Lake, though the path breaks sharply away from the water to negotiate a steep ravine at 5.1 miles. At the 5.3-mile mark, pass the first of the private Juniper Lake cabins and drop onto the cabin access road. A trail sign, gate, and yellow dot mark the end of the single track. Follow the roadway, which passes the cabins and offers nice views of the lake, back to the Juniper Lake Picnic Area, which is at 6.6 miles.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Juniper Lake Picnic Area trailhead. After about 150 feet, go left on the

signed trail to Horseshoe Lake. 0.5 Reach the top of the saddle. 1.3 Arrive at the Horseshoe Lake Ranger Station. Head around behind the station, cross

Grassy Creek on a split-­log bridge, and go left to Horseshoe Lake. 1.5 Arrive on the Horseshoe lakeshore. Rest and explore, then return to the trail junction

in front of the ranger station and go right on the signed route to Indian Lake. 2.9 Drop down the spur trail to Indian Lake. After your visit, retrace your steps to the

main trail and go left to continue the loop. 3.3 Pass a pair of ephemeral ponds; these may dry up late in the season. 4.3 Reach the trail intersection near Juniper Lake’s outlet stream. Go left, climbing away

from the stream. 5.1 Pass through a big ravine. 5.3 Encounter the first of the Juniper Lake cabins. The trail spills onto the dirt access

road 0.1 mile farther. 6.2 Cabins become more common alongside the road/trail. 6.6 Arrive back at the trailhead.

HIKE 44 Horseshoe and Indian Lakes Loop 213

The Warner Valley Tucked near the head of the Warner Valley, the Drakesbad area of Lassen Volcanic National Park has long been a favorite destination. And for good reason. Though views of Lassen Peak are not dominant here, volcanism is present in myriad ways. The pool at the Drakesbad Guest Ranch is filled with hot spring water; farther afield, that same volcanic activity fires up Boiling Springs Lake, Terminal Geyser, and the Devils Kitchen. On the more conventional side, the landscape is enlivened by the steepness of the valley walls, the thick mixed conifer forest, the snow-­fed vigor of Hot Springs Creek, and the seclusion of destinations such as Drake Lake.

The setting sun lights the lush meadow in Warner Valley.

214

Drakesbad got its name from a late nineteenth-­century settler named Edward Drake who, in addition to offering other amenities, allowed visitors to bathe in the warm mineral waters of the area. Drake eventually sold his property to the Sifford family, who cultivated the area’s resort status by building a formal, though rustic, bathhouse and offering their guests camping facilities and meals. It was the Siffords who coined the moniker “Drakesbad,” or Drake’s Baths. In the early 1900s Drakesbad played an important role in earning Lassen its national park status. Though not as flashy as the 1914–15 eruptions that drew national attention to the region’s uniqueness, Drakesbad was a favorite vacation spot of Congressman John E. Raker, who championed the park’s designation. While he campaigned to have Lassen preserved, Raker and his family visited Drakesbad often, and it was from here that the US government sent out parties to conduct surveys in the area. Drakesbad was so key to the park’s popularity, in fact, that it was once considered the obvious choice for the park’s gateway. Once the park was established, the Drakesbad resort remained a private inholding. That unique status lasted until the mid-1950s, when the National Park Service finally acquired the resort. The guest ranch is run today by California Guest Services, a concessionaire (drakesbad​​.com; 866-999-0914). It offers lodging and dining, as well as the hot springs pool and access to the Warner Valley hiking trails. Visitors can also stay at the Warner Valley Campground, which, while fairly rugged, boasts eighteen campsites. All hikes are reached via the Drakesbad Road (Plumas CR 312), which begins north of Chester and ends at the Warner Valley Campground,Warner Valley Trailhead, and Drakesbad Guest Ranch. The route is well signed. Take the Feather River Road (Plumas CR 312) north from CA 36 in Chester for 17 miles to the road’s terminus at Drakesbad. The road is paved for most of its distance but becomes a rough gravel road for the final 3 miles. It is not recommended for trailers.

The Warner Valley 215

45 DREAM LAKE BASIN WHY GO?

A short, easy hike leads to a small, historic lake basin. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 1.4 miles Hiking time: 1-2 hours Difficulty: Easy Best season: Late spring through fall Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA Special considerations: No potable water is available at the trailhead or along the trail. The meadow environs are perfect bug-­breeding territory, so insect repellent is recommended.

Trailhead amenities: Restrooms, parking, an information billboard, picnic tables. More parking is available in the staging area for travelers on the Pacific Crest Trail, located across the way. The Warner Valley Campground is about 0.5 mile back down the road and has restrooms as well.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From Chester, take the Feather River Road north for 0.7 mile to the Y intersection. Go left (northwest) on Plumas CR 312, signed for Drakesbad; the road to the right (Plumas CR 318) leads to Juniper Lake. At the next road fork, at about 5 miles, go right (north), following signs for Drakesbad. Stay on this narrow road for more than 10 miles; the surface changes from pavement to gravel for the final 3 miles. The trailhead picnic and parking area is on the left side of the road, beyond the Warner Valley Campground and before the Drakesbad Guest Ranch. GPS: N40 26.590' / W121 23.843'

THE HIKE

The trail to the Dream Lake basin offers most of what a good hike in Lassen Volcanic National Park should, including a safe crossing over rollicking Hot Springs Creek, a traverse over a meadowy slope wet with trickling hot springs water, and a final destination in a serene basin where several streams converge.A shallow tarn called Dream Lake occupied this basin until 2011, when the poor condition of its earthen dam necessitated its removal. Breaching the dam was the first step in allowing the basin to revert to its natural state, and part of a larger restoration of the entire Drakesbad area to its historic conThe Sifford family purchased figuration as a fen, or marshland. In addition to what would become the allowing Dream Lake to drain into the lower Drakesbad Guest Ranch from meadow, ditches constructed to channel meltEdward Drake at the turn of the twentieth century for water into Hot Springs Creek, thereby cultivat$6,000. ing better grazing for livestock, have also been filled in. The boardwalks traversing the lower Drakesbad meadow, facilitating passage through what the park calls “an uncommon montane fen ecosystem,” are part of the Drakesbad restoration project as well. What was Dream Lake has, over the years, morphed into Dream Meadow, as water, grasses, and wildflowers reclaim the site.

216

Devils Kitchen

DREAM LAKE BASIN

Ho t

n g s Cr e e

Drake Lake

Spri

To Bench Lake

k

SIFFORD

Dream Lake Basin

Drakesbad Meadow

MO

UN

TA

Corral

IN

cC re s

PC

T

Drakesbad Guest Ranch

Pa cifi

To Juniper Lake and Summit Lake

t Tr

PCT)

Circuit Trail

45

ail (

CR 312

Wa

ad r Vall e y Ro

0.5

To Terminal Geyser

PC T

To Terminal Geyser

To Chester

0.5

H o t S p r i n g s Creek

ne

Mile

Kilometer

Boiling Springs Lake

Warner Valley Campground

0

0

r

A deer forages in the meadow that flourishes in the Dream Lake Basin.

Begin at the Warner Valley trailhead, on the trail that also leads to Boiling Springs Lake and Devils Kitchen. The path winds streamside over small footbridges and boardwalks to the plank bridge that spans Hot Springs Creek. Cross the creek, and traverse across the meadowy slope overlooking the Drakesbad Guest Ranch and hot springs pool, crossing threads of warm water that flow over the trail. At 0.4 mile, reach the first of neighboring trail intersections. Go right (west) at the first junction. The trail drops to cross a footbridge. Stay right (west and meadowside). Cross a series of footbridges as the trail meanders through alternating forest and marsh; a couple of the bridges span shallow streams. At the trail intersection at 0.6 mile, take the left trail, crossing the plank bridge, then climb a short distance to the edge of the Dream Lake basin. Return as you came.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Warner Valley Trailhead. 0.4 Reach a trail fork and take the right (north) trail toward Devils Kitchen. 0.6 At the trail fork, turn left (west), following the trail to the Dream Lake basin. There

may not be a trail sign at this junction. 0.7 Reach the basin. Take a break, then return as you came. 1.4 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Options: You can reach both Devils Kitchen and the Drakesbad Guest Ranch from the plank bridge at the trail intersection below the basin. To reach Devils Kitchen, continue right, traveling up through the meadow. The guest ranch lies 0.3 mile north across the meadow, in plain sight of the trail intersection. 218 The Warner Valley

46 DRAKE LAKE WHY GO?

A steep climb, which thankfully features lovely views of the Warner Valley, leads to a placid, secluded lake. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; lollipop Distance: 5.6 miles Hiking time: 4–5 hours Difficulty: Strenuous Best season: Midsummer through late fall Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA Special considerations: This trail is very steep and dry. Bring plenty of water. If you must drink from Drake

Lake, boil, filter, or chemically treat the water before consuming. Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, trash cans, information board, picnic tables. More parking is available at the staging area for the Pacific Crest Trail across the road. The Warner Valley Campground, located about 0.5 mile back down the road, has restrooms as well.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From Chester take the Feather River Road north for 0.7 mile to the Y intersection. Go left (northwest) on Plumas CR 312, signed for Drakesbad; the road to the right (Plumas CR 318) leads to Juniper Lake. At the next road fork, at about 5 miles, go right (north), following signs for Drakesbad. Stay on this narrow road for more than 10 miles; the surface changes from pavement to gravel for the final 3 miles. The trailhead picnic and parking area is on the left side of the roadway, beyond the Warner Valley Campground and before the Drakesbad Guest Ranch. GPS: N40 26.590' / W121 23.843'

THE HIKE

This is a lung-­and-­leg hike: Lung power gets the test on the way up; the legs—especially knees—are taxed on the way down. Fortunately, a lovely lake and fantastic views make the work more than worthwhile. Drake Lake lies high above Drakesbad and the Warner Valley, and though other destinations in the area, like Boiling Springs Lake, get good traffic during the summer months, I’ve always had Drake Lake to myself. Its shallow bowl is rimmed in marsh grasses, wildflowers, and thick, mixed-­fir forest, so even if other folks are on the trail or at the destination, you (and they) can find solitude and peace somewhere on the lakeshore. The trail begins at the Warner Valley Trailhead. Walk westward on boardwalks protecting marshy areas. A bridge spans Hot Springs Creek, then the trail traverses the meadowy hillside above the Drakesbad pool, which is on the right (north). At 0.4 mile reach the first trail intersection; go left (up and southwest) for about 0.1 mile to the second trail intersection, which is signed for Drake Lake. Go right (west) on the Drake Lake trail, crossing the bridge over the first of several streams that bisect the route as it heads upvalley. This section of trail is used by horses from the guest ranch (some might say it is thrashed by them), and just beyond the stream, hooves may have flattened the meadow grasses uphill to the left (southwest). Proceed through the trees; there are infrequent trail

219

It’s a long way up, but the climb ends at secluded and lovely Drake Lake.

markers, but the path is easy to follow. Though the single track is mainly flat through the woodland, a number of marshy areas and drainages must be negotiated.You can’t see its bulk through the trees, but the meadow sprawling across the floor of the Warner Valley makes its presence known via fingers of grassland that pierce the forest. At 1.6 miles reach the trail marker for the connecting trail between the route to Drake Lake and the trail to Devils Kitchen. Stay straight (west) on the Drake Lake trail. About 0.1 mile ahead the trail veers left (south) and begins to climb, crossing—you guessed it—yet another streamlet. Emerge from the forest at the base of a dry, steep, manzanita-­cloaked slope. Gear down and psych up: The climb is about to begin. A few switchbacks attempt to moderate the ascent, with little effect. Eventually the summits of Lassen and Reading Peaks appear above the northern ramparts of the Warner Valley. Trees obscure these views once you climb a bit higher, but take heart—the encroaching woodland indicates lessening steepness and proximity to your ultimate destination. As the incline mellows, you might catch sight of the metallic hiking symbols that mark the route; they vaguely resemble hard-­earned gold medals. The path winds through the woods to the grassy lakeshore at 2.8 miles, where pausing to enjoy the pastoral setting— and rest quivering muscles—is a must. On the return trip, enjoy spectacular views of the Warner Valley at the top of the descent. But concentrate on your footing as the downhill gets serious. From the junction with the connector trail to Devils Kitchen, you can retrace your steps to the trailhead or take the option described here, which follows the connector trail and returns via the large Warner Valley meadow.

220 The Warner Valley

Devils Kitchen

DRAKE LAKE

Ho t

n g s Cr e e

Drake Lake

Spri

To Bench Lake

k

SIFFORD

Dream Lake Basin

Drakesbad Meadow

MO

UN

TA

Corral

IN

cC re s

PC

T

Drakesbad Guest Ranch

Pa cifi

To Juniper Lake and Summit Lake

t Tr

PCT)

Circuit Trail

46

ail (

CR 312

Wa

ad r Vall e y Ro

0.5

To Terminal Geyser

PC T

To Terminal Geyser

To Chester

0.5

H o t S p r i n g s Creek

ne

Mile

Kilometer

Boiling Springs Lake

Warner Valley Campground

0

0

r

The connector fords Hot Springs Creek and a tributary before hitching up with the broad track that links Drakesbad to the Devils Kitchen at 4.5 miles. Follow the Devils Kitchen trail down into the meadow, which is traversed via footpath and the occasional stretch of rugged boardwalk. Cross Hot Springs Creek on a little bridge; at the trail junction just beyond, stay left and follow the boardwalk up to the Drakesbad Guest Ranch. Pick up the main road through the ranch, and check out the historic cabins before arriving back at the trailhead.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Warner Valley Trailhead. Cross Hot Springs Creek and traverse above

the Drakesbad hot springs pool. 0.4 Go left at the first trail junction, following signs for Drake Lake. Turn right (west) at

the second intersection, again following the Drake Lake sign. 1.6 Pass the connecting trail intersection; stay left to reach Drake Lake. 2.6 The pitch of the trail moderates above the steep, exposed slope. 2.8 Reach Drake Lake. Take a well-­earned break, and then retrace your steps to the con-

necting trail junction. 4.0 Arrive back at the connector trail; take this to return to the trailhead via the Devils

Kitchen Trail and the meadow. (Option: Retrace your steps from here to the trailhead; the end mileage will be about the same.) 4.25 Negotiate a funky crossing of Hot Springs Creek, followed by an easier stream

crossing. 4.5 At the junction with the trail to Devils Kitchen, turn right and descend toward

Drakesbad. 4.75 Enter the meadow. 5.25 At the junction just beyond the Hot Springs Creek crossing, stay left to cross the

boardwalk and wander through the guest ranch. The gravel road leads back to the trailhead parking area. 5.6 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Option: A seldom-­used trail shown on topographic maps apparently leads south from Drake Lake to the park boundary and, beyond that, into the Rice Creek drainage. The route is essentially cross-­country.

222 The Warner Valley

47 DEVILS KITCHEN WHY GO?

Climb through meadow and woodland to a thrilling hydrothermal area that straddles Hot Springs Creek. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; out-­and-­back Distance: 4.6 miles Hiking time: 4–5 hours Difficulty: Moderate Best season: Late spring through fall Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA Special considerations: This trail visits one of the more secluded, varied, and volatile thermal areas in the park. Heed the warning signs, remaining on the trail at all times.

Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, trash cans, information board, picnic tables. More parking is available at a staging area for travelers on the Pacific Crest Trail located across the road. The Warner Valley Campground, located about 0.5 mile back down the road, has restrooms as well.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From Chester take the Feather River Road north for 0.7 mile to the Y intersection. Go left (northwest) on Plumas CR 312, signed for Drakesbad; the road to the right (Plumas CR 318) leads to Juniper Lake. At the next road fork, at about 5 miles, go right (north), following the Drakesbad sign. Stay on this narrow road for more than 10 miles; the surface changes from pavement to gravel for the final 3 miles. The trailhead picnic and parking area is on the left side of the roadway, beyond the Warner Valley Campground and before the Drakesbad Guest Ranch. GPS: N40 26.590' / W121 23.843'

THE HIKE

Belching fumaroles, boiling mudpots, steaming creeks, and rock outcrops in an array of muted fiery colors—the Devils Kitchen may be unnerving, and the stew may smell rotten, but the geologic pantry is full, and nature is cooking up a feast for the curious. The signs, sounds, and odors of this isolated hydrothermal area are served from the safety of a network of pathways, and interpretive signs help decipher the sights. Prefaced by a pleasant, wildflower-­spiced ramble through meadow and woodland, the Devils Kitchen tops off the hike with dollops of spice and wonder. The route to the kitchen begins at the Warner Valley Trailhead, following the same trail that leads to Boiling Springs Lake. Wind streamside over small footbridges and boardwalks to the bridge that spans Hot Springs Creek. Beyond the crossing, traverse above the Drakesbad hot springs pool to the first of two neighboring trail intersections at 0.4 mile. Go right (west) at the first trail intersection (the left-­hand trail leads to Boiling Springs and Drake Lakes). A series of footbridges through marsh and woodland lead to the trail intersection for Dream Lake Basin at 0.6 mile. Stay right, dropping toward the meadow. Once in the meadow, the trail heads west up the Warner Valley, rambling adjacent to meandering Hot Springs Creek. The grasses are dotted with wildflowers in midsummer and burnished gold in autumn; boardwalks make potentially soggy hiking a walk in the park. 223

Steam vents from one of the cauldrons in the Devils Kitchen.

Eventually, meadow gives way to woodland. At 1.2 miles, firmly in forest, reach a trail intersection: Drake Lake lies to your left (south); the Devils Kitchen is ahead (west). Continue on the Devils Kitchen trail, which climbs easily through the quiet, peaceful fir forest. This can be a meditative stretch: The wind may work a lullaby in the branches overhead, the melody punctuated by the muffled drumbeats of pinecones dropped from the trees by harvesting squirrels. After a steepening (but never terribly steep) climb, the trail dips through a grassy clearing watered by small, seasonal streams. The climb resumes, and if the wind is just right, you may catch the Halloween scent of sulfur emanating from the volcanic area that lies ahead and out of sight. Drop through a seasonal stream There’s life in those hot spots: In addition to mats of algae drainage, then climb past a hitch rail to the rim that grow where temperaof the kitchen at 2.2 miles. tures are lower, single-­celled Switchbacks lead down through singed organisms dubbed “thermotrees, and past danger signs, to a bridge that philic (heat-­loving) bacteria” call acidic hot springs like spans cloudy Hot Springs Creek. The water those found in Lassen home. spills into a steaming pool hollowed into the denuded, opalescent rock. On the far side of the bridge, an interpretive trail threads through the wonderland of the Devils Kitchen. For safety’s sake—and to learn something about the geology of the area—remain on the trail at all times. Boiling cauldrons and steaming vents abound. One of the viewpoints looks down into the granddaddy of the area’s mudpots; the earth vibrates with its furious boiling. A nearby fumarole has steamed a pea-­green veneer onto the pink volcanic rock. After making a circuit of the kitchen, retrace your steps to the trailhead. 224 The Warner Valley

Devils Kitchen

DEVILS KITCHEN

Ho t

n g s Cr e e

Drake Lake

Spri

To Bench Lake

k

SIFFORD

Dream Lake Basin

Drakesbad Meadow

MO

UN

TA

Corral

IN

cC re s

PC

T

Drakesbad Guest Ranch

Pa cifi

To Juniper Lake and Summit Lake

t Tr

PCT)

Circuit Trail

47

ail (

CR 312

Wa

ad r Vall e y Ro

0.5

To Terminal Geyser

PC T

To Terminal Geyser

To Chester

0.5

H o t S p r i n g s Creek

ne

Mile

Kilometer

Boiling Springs Lake

Warner Valley Campground

0

0

r

Devils Kitchen is a feast for all senses, save maybe the olfactory.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Warner Valley Trailhead. 0.4 At the trail intersection, stay right on the signed trail to Devils Kitchen. 0.6 Pass the turnoff for the Dream Lake basin and head up the meadow. 1.6 Stay right (west) at the trail intersection for the cutoff trail to Drake Lake, and con-

tinue climbing through the woods toward Devils Kitchen. 2.2 Crest the wooded hillside and look down into the kitchen. 2.3 Follow footpaths that wind through the hydrothermal area. Return to the main trail

via the bridge, and retrace your steps. 4.6 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Option: A trail with a rather serious creek crossing links the Devils Kitchen trail and the trail to Drake Lake and the Boiling Springs/Terminal Geyser area. This link can be used to make a loop around the large Warner Valley meadow. The link is described here from north to south, beginning at the Devils Kitchen Trail and ending on the trail to Drake Lake. Keep in mind, however, that you can traverse the connector in either direction. From the signed intersection on the Devils Kitchen trail, head south on the footpath, which drops through grasses and willows to a small stream crossing. A second creek crossing, which lies at the midpoint of the trail, is more challenging. The water of Hot Springs Creek moves swiftly here, and the log bridge, which may be slick, requires careful attention. Once you’re across the creek, meadow grasses briefly encroach as the path climbs gently through the trees, reaching the trail to Drake Lake after 0.5 mile. Drake Lake is to the right (south); the Warner Valley Campground and trailhead are to the left (east). Choose your destination, and carry on.

226 The Warner Valley

48 BOILING SPRINGS LAKE WHY GO?

This hydrothermal lake is spectacular and one of a kind within the park. Its milky waters, steaming fumaroles, and thumping mudpots lie at the end of a short climb through an inviting woodland. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; lollipop loop Distance: 2.6 miles Hiking time: 1–2 hours Difficulty: Easy Best season: Early summer through fall Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA Special considerations: Remain on the trail once you reach the hydrothermal area surrounding Boiling Springs Lake. As with all hydrothermal areas within the park,

straying from the trail may result in serious burns. Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, trash cans, information board, picnic tables. More parking is available at a staging area for travelers on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), located across the road. The Warner Valley Campground, located about 0.5 mile back down the road, has restrooms as well.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From Chester, take the Feather River Road north for 0.7 mile to the Y intersection. Go left (northwest) on Plumas CR 312, signed for Drakesbad; the road to the right (Plumas CR 318) leads to Juniper Lake. At the next road fork, at about 5 miles, go right (north), following the Drakesbad sign. Stay on this narrow road for more than 10 miles; the surface changes from pavement to gravel for the final 3 miles. The trailhead picnic and parking area is on the left side of the road, beyond the Warner Valley Campground and before the Drakesbad Guest Ranch. GPS: N40 26.590' / W121 23.843'

THE HIKE

The milky green waters of Boiling Springs Lake are a relatively gentle example of the volcanic forces at work in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Set in a deep bowl surrounded by steep cliffs and a collar of evergreens, the lake simmers peacefully, seeming to belie the warning signs that surround it. The trail to the lake was once interpretive, with signposts that corresponded to a pamphlet describing both hydrothermal activity and the area’s ecosystems. Since the area was deemed part of the designated wilderness that makes up much of the park’s backcountry, signposts and interpretive materials have been removed. The trail, part of the PCT, begins by rambling along boardwalks through the marshy area that forms the eastern shore of Hot Springs Creek. Cross a sturdy bridge spanning the creek, then traverse the hillside overlooking the Drakesbad Guest Ranch pool. Small, warm streams lined with algae intersect the route. Two trail intersections follow in quick succession at 0.4 mile and 0.5 mile; stay left (south) at both, following the signs for Boiling Springs Lake and Terminal Geyser. The route climbs easily through thick forest to another trail intersection at 0.7 mile. Terminal Geyser is to the left (southeast) on the PCT; the Boiling Springs Lake circuit trail is to the 227

Boiling Springs Lake presents a surreal palette in an otherwise relatively ordinary woodland.

right (south). The trail flattens in the thick woodland alongside the lake’s outlet stream, which is dry in late season and painted white by minerals. As you approach the lake, signs appear warning of the dangers of the thermal area. When the trail forks, go right (west), across the streambed and up to the lakeshore at 1.1 mile. Now on the circuit proper, circle the shoreline in a counterclockwise direction. At different points the path overlooks belching fumaroles and boiling mudpots, thumping rhythmically to the heartbeat of the earth. In early season, when water is plentiful, the thick, gray mud The temperature of Boiling in the pots bubbles like hot cereal on a stovetop. In Springs Lake is 125°. late season they are more mysterious, their orifices crusted over, the source of the thumping hidden beneath a deceptively placid surface. Meet a pair of trail intersections on the southeast shore of the lake, amid the trees atop the steep embankment. Stay left (north) on the circuit trail. At the north end of the lake, drop back to the start of the circuit via either the trail you came up on or the PCT. The trails merge down the hill; from the junction, retrace your steps to the trailhead.

228 The Warner Valley

Devils Kitchen

BOILING SPRINGS LAKE

Ho t

n g s Cr e e

Drake Lake

Spri

To Bench Lake

k

SIFFORD

Dream Lake Basin

Drakesbad Meadow

MO

UN

TA

Corral

IN

cC re s

PC

T

Drakesbad Guest Ranch

Pa cifi

To Juniper Lake and Summit Lake

t Tr

PCT)

Circuit Trail

48

ail (

CR 312

Wa

ad r Vall e y Ro

0.5

To Terminal Geyser

PC T

To Terminal Geyser

To Chester

0.5

H o t S p r i n g s Creek

ne

Mile

Kilometer

Boiling Springs Lake

Warner Valley Campground

0

0

r

Mudpots gurgle and stew on the edge of Boiling Springs Lake.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Warner Valley trailhead. 0.4 Reach the first trail intersection. Stay left on the signed path to Boiling Springs Lake. 0.5 At the second trail intersection, stay left again on the signed trail to Boiling Springs

Lake. 0.7 The PCT breaks left toward Terminal Geyser. Stay right on the path to Boiling

Springs Lake. 0.8 At the junction with the signed Boiling Springs Lake circuit trail, stay right. Signage

warns of the dangers hikers face if they stray from the designated trail within the hydrothermal area. 1.1 Arrive on the barren earth of the Boiling Springs lakeshore. Stay right on the circuit

trail. 1.3 Cross the inlet stream (dry in late season) and climb to the junction with the trail

leading to Terminal Geyser. Stay left on the circuit trail. 1.5 At the trail junction at the north end of the lake, either loop back to rejoin the trail

you came up on or follow the PCT down toward the Warner Valley Trailhead. The trails eventually merge; from this point, retrace your steps. 2.6 Arrive back at the trailhead.

230 The Warner Valley

49 TERMINAL GEYSER WHY GO?

This leisurely ramble leads past Boiling Springs Lake, through dense forest, and over a saddle to a secluded steaming fumarole. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike; lollipop Distance: 6.4 miles Hiking time: 3–4 hours Difficulty: Moderate Best season: Early summer through fall Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA Special considerations: This hike leads to a hydrothermal feature; heed all warning signs, and remain on the trail.

Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, information board, trash cans, picnic tables. More parking is available at a staging area for travelers on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), located across the road. The Warner Valley Campground, located about 0.5 mile back down the road, has restrooms as well.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From Chester, take the Feather River Road north for 0.7 mile to the Y intersection. Go left (northwest) on Plumas CR 312, signed for Drakesbad; the road to the right (Plumas CR 318) leads to Juniper Lake. At the next road fork, at about 5 miles, go right (north), following the Drakesbad sign. Stay on this narrow road for more than 10 miles; the surface changes from pavement to gravel for the final 3 miles. The trailhead picnic and parking area is on the left side of the roadway, beyond the Warner Valley Campground and before the Drakesbad Guest Ranch. GPS: N40 26.590' / W121 23.843'

THE HIKE

Despite its name, Terminal Geyser is not a true geyser but an especially vigorous fumarole—a cleft in the surface of the earth shrouded in a thick and perpetual cloak of hot steam. The fumarole’s white plume can be seen from many high points in the eastern reaches of the park, rising above the thick green of the forest that surrounds it. It’s known as “permanent smoke” by the hawkeyed volunteers staffing the fire lookout on Mount Harkness. The route begins by tracing the course of Hot Springs Creek, then crossing the creek on a sturdy bridge. Stay left (southwest) at the trail intersections at 0.4 and 0.5 mile; signs indicate you are on the route to Boiling Springs Lake and the geyser. At 0.7 mile the trail forks again; stay right on the circuit trail around Boiling Springs Lake (the trail to the left also leads to Terminal Geyser via the PCT). Hook up with the trail to the geyser at a signed junction on the south edge of the lake at 1.3 miles. Go right (southeast) and up on the footpath, ascending through a woodland of mature Jeffrey pines. The trail is narrow but clear and well traveled, snaking onto a more exposed slope carpeted with pinemat manzanita. Cross the top of a ridge, where views of the wooded crests to the west open, and then begin a gentle descent through more dense woodland.

231

Permanent smoke rises from Terminal Geyser.

Reach a double trail junction at the 2.7-mile mark. The first is with the PCT, which runs parallel to the trail you’ve descended; the second is with the trail to Little Willow Lake. Pass both trails by, staying downhill on the signed path to Terminal Geyser. The path drops through gullies and forest, then switchbacks lead steeply down to a sharp leftward Hydrogen sulfide gas bend. The trail flattens as it borders a ravine and edges is responsible for the into the clearing at the base of the geyser. “rotten egg” smell that The spot is secluded and spartan, with the spout envelopes Lassen’s hydrothermal features. of steam emitting from the gold-­and-­orange-­stained rocks of the steep gully. Narrow use paths creep over steaming streams to overlooks of the fumarole’s mouth. Be cautious and stay on the designated trail: A misstep could result in serious burns. This area was restored to its natural state in summer 1999. A hydrothermal well, known as the “Walker O,” was capped, and the access road serving the well was removed, resulting in a much more pristine setting. Enjoy the solitude for a spell, and then return to the trailhead via the same route, or via the PCT, as shown on the map.

232 The Warner Valley

0

TERMINAL GEYSER Pa

To Juniper Lake and Summit Lake

Corral

0

c ifi cC

res

t Tr

Kilometer

0.5 0.5

Mile

ail (P C T)

Drakesbad Guest Ranch

49

Wa

PC

T

ne

r

CR 312

ad r Vall e y Ro To Chester

Warner Valley Campground

Ho t Spr i n

gs

C

ree

To Drake Lake and Devils Kitchen

k

Boiling Springs Lake

Circuit Trail

PC T

FF

OR

D

M

O

U

N

TA

Terminal Geyser IN

To Kelly Camp

PC T

SI

To Willow Lake

Little Willow Lake

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Warner Valley trailhead. 0.4 Reach the first trail intersection. Stay left on the signed path to Boiling Springs Lake. 0.5 At the second trail intersection, stay left again on the signed trail to Boiling Springs

Lake. 0.7 The PCT breaks left toward Terminal Geyser. Stay right on the path to Boiling

Springs Lake. 0.8 At the junction with the signed Boiling Springs Lake circuit trail, stay right. Remain

on the designated trail within the hydrothermal area. 1.1 Arrive on the Boiling Springs lakeshore. Stay right on the circuit trail. 1.3 Cross the inlet stream (dry in late season) and climb to the junction. Go right on the

trail leading to Terminal Geyser. 2.7 Two trail intersections lie within a few feet of each other. Pass the trail intersection

with the PCT; at the neighboring junction with the path to Little Willow Lake, stay straight on the signed route to Terminal Geyser. 3.2 Reach Terminal Geyser. Marvel at the steam and setting, then return to the junction

with the PCT. You can return as you came or follow the PCT back to the Warner Valley trailhead; the trails parallel each other. (Note: The map shows the latter option.) 6.4 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Option: You can follow the PCT back to the Warner Valley Trailhead, making a loop from Boiling Springs Lake. From the trail junction above Terminal Geyser, take the right-­hand route (signed PCT). The trail swings up alongside a meadow thick with mountain mule’s ear, entering woodland near the top of the climb. Roll over terraces carpeted with blankets of pinemat manzanita, enjoying views down into the Warner Valley. The PCT drops you back to Boiling Springs Lake; stay on the signed thru-­trail all the way to the Warner Valley trailhead.

234 The Warner Valley

50 LITTLE WILLOW LAKE WHY GO?

A rolling backwoods amble leads past two hydrothermal areas to an isolated lake on the southern boundary of Lassen Volcanic National Park. THE RUNDOWN Type of hike: Day hike or backpack; out-­and-­back Distance: 7.8 miles Hiking time: 5–6 hours Difficulty: Moderate Best season: Late spring through fall Maps: USGS Reading Peak CA Special considerations: There is no potable water available at the trailhead or along the trail. Pack in all the water you’ll need. The lake (what remains of it) is boggy and buggy

through most of the hiking season, so bring insect repellent. Trailhead amenities: Parking, restrooms, information board, trash cans, picnic tables. More parking is available at a staging area for travelers on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), located across the way. The Warner Valley Campground, located about 0.5 mile back down the road, has restrooms as well.

FINDING THE TRAILHEAD From Chester, take the Feather River Road north for 0.7 mile to the Y intersection. Go left (northwest) on Plumas CR 312, signed for Drakesbad; the road to the right (Plumas CR 318) leads to Juniper Lake. At the next road fork, at about 5 miles, go right (north), following the Drakesbad sign. Stay on this narrow road for more than 10 miles; the surface changes from pavement to gravel for the final 3 miles. The trailhead picnic and parking area is on the left side of the roadway, beyond the Warner Valley Campground and before the Drakesbad Guest Ranch. GPS: N40 26.590' / W121 23.843'

THE HIKE

Little Willow Lake is out there. Secluded and pristine, it lies just off the PCT, near where the trail crosses the southern border of the park. The shallow waters evaporate to small marshy pools that hold clusters of lily pads as the hiking season progresses; by late summer the lake is little more than boggy meadow cradled in a thickly forested basin. The lake is the perfect launching point for a trek along the PCT through the park, and the perfect destination for the Lassen explorer seeking a site less visited. Begin alongside Hot Springs Creek, rambling past Drakesbad to trail intersections at 0.4 mile and 0.5 mile. Stay left at both junctions. Take a right on the Boiling Springs Lake circuit trail at 0.7 mile. Circle the lake in a clockwise direction to the Terminal Geyser trail intersection at 1.3 miles; go right (southeast), following the signed route to the geyser (which is actually a fumarole). Climb up and over a gentle ridge carpeted with pinemat manzanita and shaded by a parklike scattering of large firs and Jeffrey pines. Then head down the wooded, west-­ facing slope to the trail intersection at 2.7 miles, where the Terminal Geyser trail, the trail to Little Willow Lake, and the PCT collide. Go right (southwest) on the PCT to Little Willow Lake. 235

The trail wanders through a mature, mixed-­fir forest, a rolling traverse that dips in and out of shallow drainages. You will gain more altitude than you’ll lose over the next 0.5 mile, but the climb is easy and shaded. Crest the rolling ridge, cross a flat stretch of path through sun-­dappled woodland, and then begin an equally benign descent. After 3.9 enjoyable miles, reach the northeast margin of Little Willow Lake, which lies hidden amid grasses and marsh to the right (north). The lake invites contemplation and photography but offers no swimming or fishing; it grows closer and closer to meadowland with each passing year. When you are ready, retrace your steps to the trailhead.

MILES AND DIRECTIONS 0.0 Start at the Warner Valley trailhead. 0.4 Reach the first trail intersection. Stay left on the signed path to Boiling Springs Lake. 0.5 At the second trail intersection, stay left again on the signed trail to Boiling Springs

Lake.

Little Willow Lake, by late summer, is little more than meadow.

236 The Warner Valley

0

LITTLE WILLOW LAKE Pa

To Juniper Lake and Summit Lake

Corral

c ifi cC

0

res

t Tr

Kilometer

0.5 0.5

Mile

ail (P C T)

Drakesbad Guest Ranch

50

Wa

PC

T

ne

r

CR 312

ad r Vall e y Ro To Chester

Warner Valley Campground

Ho t Spr i n

gs

C

ree

To Drake Lake and Devils Kitchen

k

Boiling Springs Lake

Circuit Trail

PC T

FF

OR

D

M

O

U

N

TA

Terminal Geyser IN

To Kelly Camp

PC T

SI

Little Willow Lake

To Willow Lake

0.7 The PCT breaks left toward Terminal Geyser. Stay right on the path to Boiling

Springs Lake. 0.8 At the junction with the signed Boiling Springs Lake circuit trail, stay right. Remain

on the designated trail within the hydrothermal area. 1.1 Arrive on the Boiling Springs lakeshore. Stay right on the circuit trail. 1.3 Cross the inlet stream (dry in late season) and climb to the junction. Go right on the

trail leading to Terminal Geyser. 2.7 Two trail intersections lie within a few feet of each other. Pass the trail intersection

with the PCT; at the neighboring junction with the path to Terminal Geyser, go right on the signed route to Little Willow Lake. 3.9 Reach Little Willow Lake. When you are ready to depart, retrace your steps to the

junction with the trail to Terminal Geyser. At the neighboring junction with the PCT, choose your return route; the trails parallel each other back to Boiling Springs Lake, where they merge. (Note: The map shows the return via the PCT.) 7.8 Arrive back at the trailhead.

Options: To exit the park, or to continue on the PCT south to Domingo Springs and beyond, skirt the southern shore of the lake. The trail arcs sharply left (south) near the southwestern tip of the lake basin to the park boundary and a small parking area that can be reached using forest service roads that originate near the Domingo Springs Campground and Domingo Springs PCT Trailhead.

238 The Warner Valley

HONORABLE MENTION WARNER VALLEY TO CORRAL MEADOW The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) climbs steeply out of the Warner Valley toward Kings Creek and the highlands of Lassen Volcanic National Park, an ascent the hardy hiker will revel in. Steep switchbacks, rocky, exposed terrain, and views like those from an eagle’s aerie invigorate the legs, lungs, and soul. Perches along the trail afford views south onto the rolling slopes of Sifford Mountain, west into the head of Warner Valley, and east past Kelly Mountain. The woods grow thick on the crest of Flatiron Ridge and don’t part until you reach Corral Meadow, which is at the 2.4-mile mark and makes a good turnaround point for an out-­and-­back trip. This mature strip of wildflowers and dense grasses straddles Kings Creek just below its confluence with the creek that flows out of the Grassy Swale. The meadow, and the stretch of creek that waters it, see little traffic; they are insulated from all but the most ambitious hikers by distance.

A boardwalk leads through the grasses of the Warner Valley fen.

Honorable Mention 239

Here are the details: From the Warner Valley Campground, the PCT heads up and east through the dense fir forest to the first of three switchbacks that link long traverses on the south-­facing wall of Warner Valley. Beyond the first switchback, the trail climbs a rugged stone-­and-­log staircase etched into a cliff of folded, globular gray-­and-­black rock. Round the second switchback, and look down upon great views of the Drakesbad area. The rock is now laid down in shaly sheets, where low-­growing manzanita and a few evergreens have gained a foothold. Round the third switchback and climb west onto the Flatiron Ridge, which forms the northern bastion of the Warner Valley. At 1 mile reach the intersection with the trail that leads left (west) to Sifford Lake and Kings Creek Falls. The trail to Corral Meadow goes right (north) and begins a rolling climb over the contours of the Flatiron Ridge. After a brief flat stretch on the crest of the ridge, the trail drops into the Kings Creek drainage, descending to a trail intersection on the southern edge of Corral Meadow. Kelly Camp lies 3.7 miles to the southeast, down the Kings Creek drainage; the rest of Corral Meadow lies along the more defined path to the left. The boggy, buggy meadow is not particularly inviting, but the rocky shores of Kings Creek, at the northern edge of the meadow at 2.4 miles, present a nice picnic spot and turnaround. Return as you came, or continue along the PCT through the Grassy Swale and into the northern reaches of the park.

240 Honorable Mention

The Pacific Crest Trail A lovely stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), one of the premier hiking routes in North America, passes through the heart of Lassen Volcanic National Park, serving both as a microcosm of all that makes the park great and as a link to a lot of what’s great along the West Coast of the United States. The PCT, designated a National Scenic Trail by Congress in 1968 and dedicated in 1993, extends 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada, spanning some of the highest points in the lower forty-­eight states. In Lassen country, the PCT passes well east of the Southwest Entrance Station and Manzanita Lake, as well as Lassen Peak itself. It cruises right through the park’s center, an almost perfect bisection, with its midpoint at the Twin Lakes. The closest it comes to “civilization” is in the Warner Valley, where it passes within 0.25 mile of the Drakesbad Guest Ranch. Drakesbad serves as a drop site for supplies, and thru-­hikers can hitch a ride into Chester with day hikers for a good meal and supplies, and maybe a shower and a night on the town. The PCT can be hiked in either direction, in segments, or as part of other day hikes and long loops within the park. Most thru-­hikers travel from south to north, entering the park at Little Willow Lake and exiting north of Badger Flat. Thru-­hikers also typically cross the park on the PCT in a long day, but other users may choose to make the trip in two or three days, spending one night in the Warner Valley and a second at the Twin Lakes. If you wish to camp overnight in the backcountry, please abide by the park’s backcountry regulations: Secure a permit, and set up camp at least 100 feet from water sources and trails. No potable water sources are found along the trail, except at the Warner Valley Campground, so you should be prepared to purify water collected from streams or lakes by boiling, filtering, or chemically treating it. There are no amenities other than minimal parking areas at either PCT trailhead outside the park; pack in everything you need. The description that follows is quick and dirty compared to what you’ll find in guidebooks to the PCT, which I’d highly recommend to any thru-­hiker on the trail. The route is clearly marked with blue-­and-­white PCT markers on tree trunks, very well maintained, and well traveled. With Mile 0 at Little Willow Lake, the PCT climbs over a forested ridge and into the Warner Valley at 3.9 miles, cruising by Boiling Springs Lake and across Hot Springs Creek. The Warner Valley Trailhead, with restrooms and picnic sites, makes a nice rest stop. A stiff climb leads north out of the Warner Valley onto the Flatiron Ridge. Follow the route to narrow Corral Meadow and Kings Creek at 6.2 miles. Cross the creek into the Grassy Swale, a swath of grassland watered by a stream that parallels the route. A trail to Horseshoe Lake departs near the head of the swale; stay northbound (left) on the PCT, which ascends past Swan Lake to Lower Twin Lake at the 10-mile mark.

241

The Pacific Crest Trail spans 18 miles within Lassen Volcanic National Park; in the Warner Valley it climbs from Little Willow Lake to the top of Flatiron Ridge.

THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL 243

From the Twin Lakes the route passes the west-­facing flanks of Fairfield Peak, widening to double track as it approaches the cinder flats south and west of Butte Lake. This area was burned in the 2012 Reading Fire; get the beta from park rangers or fellow trekkers, as the fire left hazards in its wake. Fortunately, these will continue to diminish as the landscape heals. The PCT hitches up with the Nobles Emigrant Trail, originally laid down by pioneers in the 1850s and 1860s, as it nears the northern border of the park. It veers west, away from the Cinder Cone and Prospect Peak, traversing relatively flat terrain past Soap Lake and through Badger Flat before leaving the park at a junction near Hat Creek, where the Nobles Emigrant Trail breaks south. To reach the southern trailhead from within the park, begin at the Warner Valley Trailhead, which is located about 17 miles northwest of Chester on Feather River Road (Plumas CR 312). From the Warner Valley Trailhead, hike south, passing Boiling Springs Lake and following the trail to Little Willow Lake. To reach the southern trailhead from outside the park, begin in Chester, following the Feather River Road (Plumas CR 312) northwest to its intersection with Plumas CR 311, north of the High Bridge Campground. Go left (northwest) on CR 311, following the signs for the Domingo Springs Campground. The PCT intersects the county road opposite the campground entrance. To reach the northern trailhead from within the park, begin at the Hat Creek Trailhead, located 9.5 miles from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station and 18.5 miles from the Southwest Entrance Station. Hike north on the Nobles Emigrant Trail to its intersection with the PCT. You can also pick up the trail by following the Nobles Emigrant Trail from Butte Lake. To reach the northern trailhead from outside the park, follow CA 44/CA 89 north and west from the Manzanita Lake Entrance Station to Lassen FR 32N12, which heads right (east) to Twin Bridges and West Prospect Peak. The PCT trailhead is about 0.25 mile west of Twin Bridges, on the southeast side of Hat Creek. For more information on the PCT itself, contact the Pacific Crest Trail Association, 1331 Garden Hwy., Sacramento, CA 95833; (916) 285-1846; pcta​​.org.

244 The Pacific Crest Trail

The Nobles Emigrant Trail In the mid-1800s several immigrant trails crossed the Sierra Nevada to the gold-­rich foothills on the range’s western slopes and fertile valleys of central California. The hardships encountered by travelers along the routes were notorious—unpredictable weather, scarce water and food, and terrain nearly insurmountable in travel-­worn wagons.Witness the gruesome fate of the Donner Party on the central Sierra pass that bears the same name, and the infamous Lassen Trail, which meandered so wildly through the mountains of Northern California that some of those who arrived at trail’s end wanted to do away with trailblazer Peter Lassen. Not so the Nobles Emigrant Trail, forged by William H. Nobles and touted as the easiest route over the Sierra Nevada into California’s Great Valley. Nobles, a native of New York who came to California, like so many others, looking for gold, established his trail in the early 1850s. His story, and the story of the trail he founded, is detailed in Robert Ames’s booklet Nobles’ Emigrant Trail (see Appendix D: Further Reading). A portion of this trail passed through what would later become Lassen Volcanic National Park. The park has preserved much of the original route, with the exception of a couple of miles that lie buried beneath the debris that filled the Lost Creek and Hat Creek drainages after the eruptions of Lassen Peak in May 1915. Sections of the old emigrant trail link to other parts of the trail network in the northern reaches of the park, where Lassen’s backcountry is arguably at its wildest. The trail offers secluded and relatively easy hiking. It once won the praise of weary pioneers traveling with loaded wagons through unknown territory; these days, for the modern hiker laden only with backpack and bedroll, seeking solitude, beauty, and a touch of history, it remains a treasure. The trail is described briefly in two sections: from Butte Lake to the Hat Lake Trailhead and from Sunflower Flat to Summertown.

BUTTE LAKE TO THE HAT LAKE TRAILHEAD

The first section runs directly through the 2012 Reading Fire zone. Hikers may encounter lingering hazards, including falling trees, in the wake of the blaze; check with rangers about trail conditions. This section of trail is about 12.5 miles long and begins in unison with the Cinder Cone Nature Trail, departing from the Butte Lake day use area. Imagine the awe and wonder the first few miles inspired in travelers 150 years ago, passing the stark Cinder Cone, the ominous Fantastic Lava Beds, and the colorful Painted Dunes. The terrain is no less awesome and wonderful today, only enhanced by a modern understanding of the powerful volcanic forces that sculpted it. The wide cinder-­covered track passes a junction with the East Prospect Peak summit trail, then skirts the west-­facing side of the Cinder Cone to a Y intersection. The left-­ hand trail leads south to Snag Lake; on the right hand is the emigrant trail, which leads

245

southwest to yet another junction. Again, follow the right-­hand trail, heading southwest on a narrowing swath of footfalls etched in the cinder fields. The two tracks that harken back to the wagon wheels that once passed this way don’t become apparent until you enter the woodlands that clothe East Prospect Peak’s south-­ facing flanks. The tracks trace a westerly course through the cinders, which support a feathery growth of grasses and wildflowers as the Jeffrey pines give way to lodgepole pines and firs. The route rolls through the woods to its intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) at 4.5 miles. Stay right (west) on the now-­merged Nobles Emigrant Trail and PCT; the trail to the left (south) leads to the Twin Lakes. At 5.5 miles pass Soap Lake on the left (south) side of the track. Beyond the lake the trail becomes more exposed and a bit hillier. Cross, and then follow, the bed of a seasonal stream, proceeding to the Badger Flat meadow at 7.1 miles. In addition to the best views thus far of Lassen Peak, you will also find a trail intersection at Badger Flat. Stay right (west) to continue on the Nobles Emigrant Trail; the trail to the left (south) leads to the Cluster Lakes, in the heart of the Reading burn scar, and eventually to Summit Lake. The rolling path continues west to the next trail intersection, where the PCT diverges from the Nobles Emigrant Trail at 8.6 miles. Stay left (south)

Imagine what the emigrants thought: Lassen Peak looms over the Nobles Emigrant Trail near Hat Creek.

246 The Nobles Emigrant Trail

on the Nobles Emigrant Trail, dropping on the old roadbed to parallel the eastern bank of Hat Creek and passing through the recovering fire zone. About 0.25 mile south of the junction with the PCT, the double track widens and, in addition to the wagon ruts, may also bear the mark of a modern vehicle. The trail veers right (west) to cross Hat Creek. Continue south, following the west bank of Hat Creek and passing a side trail to a utility structure. The well-­defined trail leads gradually upward through the burned forest. A metal bridge makes easy work of crossing Hat Creek a final time before the trail climbs to its end along the shoulder of Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway at the Hat Creek Trailhead at 12.5 miles.

SUNFLOWER FLAT TO SUMMERTOWN

The mudflows and eruptions of 1915 obliterated the trail between Hat Lake and the northern reaches of Anklin Meadow, and beyond that, a little used and less than scenic section runs from Lost Creek to Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway; there is no easy access to either end of this stretch. But hop onto the trail at Sunflower Flat and head west toward Summertown and Manzanita Lake, and you’ll follow a path rich in natural beauty. A marker at Sunflower Flat, just below Nobles Pass, commemorates the pioneers who used the trail. Cross the park highway and bushwhack 100 yards into the thick woods to pick up the double track, turning left to climb up and over the gentle pass. Once over the summit, the trail drops into the open woodland that has gained a foothold amid the pinkish soil of the Chaos Jumbles, remnants of a massive avalanche off the Chaos Crags. The bald pates of Lassen Peak and the Chaos Crags peek over the rubble hummocks on the south side of the route. Yellow triangles with red trim have been tacked onto the thick trunks of the stately Jeffrey pines, making route finding a snap. Lazy switchbacks lead down into easier terrain, with the trail tracing broad curves until it settles into a depression between the Chaos Jumbles on the south and the base of Table Mountain on the north. The trail ends at the Summertown site, where old foundations and pieces of pottery and glass once recalled the settlement; those remnants become harder to find as the years pass. To continue to Manzanita Lake, follow the gravel road that leads west, then southwest, toward the park’s entrance station. The route transitions from gravel to pavement; stick to the paved roadway, avoiding gravel roads that branch off left and right. Pass through a park maintenance area; the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway is 0.1 mile beyond. A gate blocks vehicle access to the road, which is directly opposite the entrance station and the northwestern shores of Manzanita Lake. The Loomis Museum is 0.5 mile east of the entrance station and can be reached by crossing the park highway and following the footpath that traces the shoreline of Manzanita Lake.

THE NOBLES EMIGRANT TRAIL 247

Appendix A: Hiker’s Checklist My day pack is a small monster, but I like to be prepared for any eventuality, particularly if I’m on a hike that takes me into territory that sees little traffic. Use this list (it’s what I carry) as a starting point for developing a list of your own. I typically wear a UV protective shirt, a brimmed hat, and a hiking skirt with lots of pockets so my nerdy guidebook-­ writer gear (GPS, camera, notebook, cell phone, wallet, car keys) is easy to reach. Shorts may be the first choice of most hikers. I met a man on Brokeoff Mountain, however, who shared my affection for the hiking skirt; he was quite the sight, but a happy hiker.

DAY HIKING …… Rain gear (I carry a poncho) …… Synthetic long pants and a fleece sweater …… Winter cap (wool or fleece) …… Sunhat …… Bandanna(s) …… Gloves (wool or fleece) …… 2 water bottles (minimum) …… Waterproof matches, lighter, and fire starter …… Pocketknife (and a Buck knife; it was a gift) …… Flashlight or headlamp …… Extra batteries …… Shovel, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, and plastic baggies for taking care of “business” (The bags enable me to pack out paper waste) …… Snacks (trail mix or nuts, granola bars, fruit, jerky) …… Whistle …… Pepper spray (in 25 years I’ve never had to use it on man or beast) …… Emergency blanket …… First-­aid kit (pain killers, bandaging materials, antihistamines, scissors, antibiotic ointment) …… Sunscreen …… Small water filter and purification pills (the latter as backup) …… Guidebook/maps and compass/notebook

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…… GPS unit …… Camera …… Cell phone (I’ve been able to connect in the oddest places!)

BACKPACKING If you are backpacking, pack all of the above as well as the following: …… Sleeping bag …… Foam pad or air mattress …… Ground sheet (plastic or nylon) …… Dependable tent …… 1-quart water container or 1-gallon collapsible water container/filter for camp use …… Backpack stove and fuel …… Lighter …… Cooking pot (the newest stoves come with a pot you can cook in and eat from) …… Utensils (sporks are brilliant) …… Solar lamp …… Biodegradable soap …… Food and drink (Don’t forget the salt and pepper) …… Extra clothing, including extra socks and camp shoes, as needed …… Toothbrush

MISCELLANEOUS If you have room in your pack, whether on a day hike or a multiday trip, consider carrying the following: …… Insect repellent …… Lip balm …… Candle(s) …… Plastic bags (for trash) …… Fishing license …… Fishing rod, reel, lures, flies, etc. …… Binoculars …… Waterproof covering for your pack …… Watch …… Sewing kit

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Appendix B: Camping in Bear Country Staying overnight in bear country is not dangerous, but the presence of food, cooking utensils, and garbage adds risk to your trip. Plus, bears are usually most active at night. A few basic practices will greatly minimize the chance of an encounter. To be as safe as possible, whether camping or backpacking, properly store all food and scented items (toothpaste and other hygiene products; garbage). Bear canisters have become ubiquitous throughout bear country, and are mandatory equipment if you are planning an overnight stay in Lassen’s backcountry. They can be purchased from outdoor retailers or rented from the National Park Service or the US Forest Service. At Lassen, you can rent an NPS-­approved bear canister at the Loomis Museum or at the Kohm Yah-­mah-­nee Visitor Center during business hours. Bear canisters are not required in the backcountry from December 1 through April 15, when Lassen’s bears are in torpor. But it’s not a bad idea to use one anyway. They are a handy way to keep your food and garbage contained, and they make nice camp stools. If you have spilled something on your clothes, change into different clothes for sleeping, and treat the clothes with food smells as you would food and garbage. They may not fit in your bear canister, but you can put them in a plastic bag and stash them away from your tent. If you take them into the tent, you aren’t separating your sleeping area from food smells. Try to keep food odors off your pack. For day hikers, ziplock bags are perfect for reducing food smell and keeping food from spilling on your pack, clothing, or other gear. Storing food in airtight, sturdy, waterproof bags also prevents food odors from circulating throughout the forest. Campers should use the bear-­proof lockers provided at campgrounds and never bring food into their tents. Be sure to finalize your food storage plans before it gets dark. It’s not only difficult to store food after darkness falls, but it’s easier to overlook some juicy morsel on the ground. Don’t get paranoid about the types of food you bring—all food has some smell. By consciously reducing the number of dishes you use and the amount of packaging you carry, and by consuming everything on your plate (pack out all food scraps), you will not only make your backpacking culinary experience more enjoyable and hassle-­free for yourself but also more bear-­proof.

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Appendix C: Glossary Andesite: An intermediate type of lava between basalt and dacite, andesite can range in color from gray to brown and is often flecked with small crystals so that it resembles granite. Found throughout Lassen Volcanic National Park. Basalt: A common, black or dark-­colored lava that often turns red when exposed to the weather. Composes the Fantastic Lava Beds. Cinder cone: A steep-­sided volcano formed when magma under high pressure erupts explosively. Usually symmetrical in shape. Example: Cinder Cone. Cinders: Material ejected from a volcano that is the size and consistency of sand. Composite volcano: Built by piling layer upon layer of lava from successive eruptions, this is the common structure for most of the Cascade volcanoes. Examples: Mount Shasta, Mount Tehama. Dacite: Similar to andesite but containing more silicon dioxide, dacite ranges in color from pink to gray to brown. Often, it is also flecked with smaller crystals. Composes Lassen Peak. Fumarole: A vent in a volcanic area from which gas and steam escape. Hydrothermal areas: Areas where water and magma create mudpots, steam vents, and boiling pools or hot springs. Examples: Bumpass Hell, Devils Kitchen. Lava: Magma, or molten rock, that escapes from volcanoes. Plug dome volcano: A steep-­sided volcano that is formed when extremely viscous masses of lava emerge rapidly from a vent. Example: Lassen Peak. Pyroclastic flow: An explosive and extremely destructive eruption of gas and steam from a volcano. Shield volcano: Runny, free-­flowing lava builds a shield volcano, which has a low, broad-­based profile and resembles a shield. Examples: Prospect Peak, Hawaiian volcanoes.

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Appendix D: Further Reading Alt, David B., and Donald W. Hyndman. Roadside Geology of Northern California. Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1975. Amesbury, Robert. Nobles Emigrant Trail. Lassen Loomis Museum Association, 1967. Decker, Robert and Barbara. Road Guide to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Double Decker Press, 1997. Kane, Phillip S. Through Vulcan’s Eye: The Geology and Geomorphology of Lassen. Lassen Loomis Museum Association, 1980. Krahne, Diane L., and Theodore Catton. Little Gem of the Cascades: An Administrative History of Lassen Volcanic National Park. University of Montana, 2010; nps​​.gov/lavo/ historyculture/upload/Lassen-­Volcanic-­National-­Park-­Administrative-­History​​.pdf Kroeber, Theodora. Ishi in Two Worlds. University of California Press, 1961. Loomis, B. F. Eruptions of Lassen Peak. Lassen Loomis Museum Association, revised edition, 1971. Nelson, Raymond. Trees and Shrubs of Lassen. Lassen Loomis Museum Association, 1962. Richard, Ellis. Lassen Volcanic: The Story Behind the Scenery. KC Publications, Inc., 1998. Schaffer, Jeffrey. Lassen Volcanic National Park and Vicinity. Wilderness Press, 1981. Schulz, Paul E. Lassen’s Place Names. Lassen Loomis Museum Association, 1949. Strong, Douglas. Footprints in Time: A History of Lassen Volcanic National Park. Lassen Loomis Museum Association, 1973. Swartzlow, Ruby Johnson. His Life & Legacy: Peter Lassen. Lassen Loomis Museum Association, revised edition, 1995. US Geological Survey. How Old Is Cinder Cone?—Solving a Mystery in Lassen Volcanic Park, California. USGS fact sheet 023-00, 2005; http://pubs​​.usgs​​.gov/fs/2000/fs023-00/. Other titles available from the Lassen Association A Field Guide to the Flowers of Lassen Volcanic National Park Lassen Through the Lens A Pictorial History of the Lassen Volcano Pamphlets available online Trail Guide to Bumpass Hell (www​​.nps​​.gov/lavo/planyourvisit/upload/Bumpass-­Hell-­ trail-­guide​​.pdf) Trail Guide to Lassen Peak (www​​.nps​​.gov/lavo/planyourvisit/upload/Lassen-­Peak-­Trail -­Guide-­booklet-4.pdf)

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Hike Index Bathtub Lake, 160 Boiling Springs Lake, 227 Brokeoff Mountain, 33 Bumpass Hell, 49 Butte and Snag Lakes Loop, 174 Cameron Meadow and Grassy Creek Loop, 202 Chaos Crags and Crags Lake, 145 Cinder Cone, 166 Cliff Lake, 60 Cluster Lakes Loop, 118 Cold Boiling Lake, 68 Conard Meadows, 40 Crumbaugh Lake, 71 Crystal Lake, 192 Devastated Area Interpretive Trail, 134 Devils Kitchen, 223 Drake Lake, 219 Dream Lake Basin, 216 East Prospect Peak, 163 Echo Lake, 101 Hat Lake to Terrace Lake, 126 Horseshoe and Indian Lakes Loop, 210 Horseshoe Lake, 207 Inspiration Point, 195 Jakey Lake, 199 Juniper Lake Loop, 189 Kings Creek Falls and the Cascades, 80 Kings Creek Falls to Corral Meadow, 88 Kings Creek Falls to Summit Lake, 92

Kings Creek Falls, Bench Lake, and Sifford Lake Loop, 84 Lassen Peak, 53 Lava Bed Beachhead at Snag Lake, 170 Lily Pond Nature Trail, 142 Little and Big Bear Lakes, 110 Little Willow Lake, 235 Manzanita Creek Trail, 151 Manzanita Lake Trail, 148 Mill Creek Falls, 37 Mount Harkness, 185 Nobles Emigrant Trail, 245 Nobles Emigrant Trail at Hat Creek, 130 Nobles Emigrant Trail—Sunflower Flat to Summertown, 154 Pacific Crest Trail, 241 Paradise Meadow, 123 Rainbow and Snag Lakes Loop, 181 Rainbow Lake, 117 Reflection Lake, 139 Ridge Lakes, 43 Sifford Lake, 77 Summit Lake to Corral Meadow, 120 Summit Lake, 98 Terminal Geyser, 231 Terrace and Shadow Lakes, 57 Terrace Lake to Summit Lake, 63 Twin Meadows, 74 Upper and Lower Twin Lakes, 105 Warner Valley to Corral Meadow, 239 Widow Lake, 179

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