Lassen Volcanic National Park, east of Redding in northernmost California, boasts massive mountains, picturesque lakes, and a bevy of bizarre volcanic activity reminiscent of Yellowstone. The hike up Mount Lassen, the central, giant, volcanic mountain in the middle of the park, remains the most difficult hike I have ever completed--or else, it ranks very close to the top. The park has lots of tall, majestic mountains, like Grand Teton National Park, and wacky bubbling toxic sulfur springs and in area called Bumpass Hell. It's like Grand Teton and Yellowstone without being insanely overcrowded. This park is a fascinating one to visit.
My visit to Lassen in early October of 2017 encompassed two days. The first day had the single primary goal of hiking all the way to the top of Mount Lassen. Climbing mountains is a very challenging endeavor for my asthma and my muscles, so I was very proud to make it to the top of the mountain. On the second day, which was considerably colder, we visited Bumpass Hell, the area full of bubbling toxic volcanic sulfur pits.
Part 1: Scenes From The Hike Up Mount Lassen
Mount Lassen is the central volcanic mountain to Lassen Volcanic National Park, reaching a maximum elevation of 10,450 feet. The trailhead sits at an elevation of 8,500 feet, meaning that the 2.6 miles of trail ascend upward by nearly 2,000 feet. Expect to make a slow trek doing all that climbing uphill. Snow can persist through the entire summer, as you'll see. And of course, hiking at high elevations can make you very susceptible to sunburns. The views become beautiful very soon after starting your journey up the trail, and they just get better and better as you press onward.
Just before reaching the true highest point on the mountain, the path crosses this snowfield. As my visit took place in early October, at the very end of the snowless season, I think this snow might have been sitting there since last winter!
The snowfield sits at what is basically the top of the mountain, but the true peak sits among these crags that jut upward. Climbing these crags and taking a seat gives you the true satisfaction of reaching the true top of the mountain. That's why so many people here are doing that in this photo.
A view from atop the crags, looking back on what I recently traversed:
Part 2: Views from the Road
Here are some photos I took from the main road through the national park.
Part 3: The Trail to Bumpass Hell
Bumpass Hell is the famed area of Lassen Volcanic National Park home to steam vents, bubbling sulphurous springs, and strangely-colored waters. Straying from the boardwalk trail can land a hiker with severe chemical burns. I do not recommend this hike for young children because of the glaring safety hazards. The trail along the side of Bumpass Mountain, which leads to Bumpass Hell, is a pretty one:
Now, we start getting to some weird volcanism...
Here is a view of some of the volcanic phenomena from through the trees.
Now we are reaching the swath of hot volcanic springs known as Bumpass Hell! Bumpass Hell itself has wooden boardwalks, constructed to protect hikers from the sulphurous chemicals that can corrode away your skin. Look, but don't touch!
Look! It's a pale turquoise stream, like you might see in Yellowstone at the Devil's Paint Pots, for example:
A big steam vent:
Bumpass Hell had lots of steam vents, pale blue streams, and white bubbling mud.