I have been a slacker lately in adding new entries to the blog. Blame it on a minor hand injury or just extremely busy weekends this month. But enough of slacking… A quick post should help me motivate to find additional time to keep this going. So as I was contemplating on a topic, I thought why not write a post on a lesser known volcanic national park in California. Lassen is about 4-5 hours drive from the bay area located in the northeastern part of California.
The national park is famous for Lassen peak that stands at 10,000 ft. Most of the park stays covered in snow till early summer (end of June/first week of July) so July through September would be a good time to visit the park especially if you are planning on camping. There are a lot of lakes inside the park and a lot of them are frozen (at least the top layer) if you visit the park during late Spring. We visited Lassen in the first week of June and it was pretty cold with snow all around.
As with most national parks, there are tons of hiking trails around the park. As I mentioned earlier, Lassen peak is the reason most climbers visit the park. It is a day hike to the top of the peak and the crater and destruction from the volcanic eruption is visible at the top of the peak. A loop around the park is a good way to start. A stop at Helen lake is not to be missed. Very picturesque with the Lassen peak in the background. The Summit lakes (both north and south) are worth a mention since camping here is good because you are at the core of the park as opposed to camping at Manzanita which is extremely close to the entrance of the park. We were unable to visit Juniper lake, so I cannot comment on how the area around is.
Lassen is also known for its hydrothermal features. Make sure to do Bumpass Hell hike if the trails are open. This area is the largest hydrothermal area in the park. If not, you’d have to make do with the odor at Sulphur Works (:P), a spot which is easily accessible but only gives you a glimpse of a boiling mud pot. In retrospect, if it is your first time visiting a thermal area, you might be fascinated, but the thermal activity is nothing compared to some other thermally active national parks in the country (like Yellowstone 😀) and if you have seen those, this is going to be a big disappointment since you might feel that you have seen it all!!!.
If you ever visit Lassen, make sure to visit Burney Falls without fail. It is a state park where a lot of people go and camp, but if you do not plan on staying there, it still is worth taking a diversion from/to your way to Lassen to cool off and take a dip in the pool for a swim on hotter days. Not to forget, some amazing photographic opportunities of the falls. If you need a break from the crowds of Tahoe and Yosemite, and are looking for a less crowded national park which is equally beautiful, Lassen should be on your list.
Some tips if you visit Lassen:
– If you are camping inside the park, definitely go for either of the Summit lakes. It is a short drive to the Bumpass Hell trail, the Lassen peak trail, Helen lake, Devastated area and most of the Lassen national park attractions.
– Late summer (end of August/early September) would probably be a better time to travel since most snow has melted and road closures are less and camping sites are a little less cold
– Don’t miss to check out Burney Falls 🙂