Friday, July 11, 2014

Best trails for seeing Lassen NP’s wonders

Mill Creek Falls.
Photo courtesy of Lassen Volcanic NPS.
Among the best ways to see Lassen Volcanic National Park’s top sights is via a day hike. Just four short trails will allow you to enjoy each of the park’s highlights – a volcano that blew during the last century, bubbling mudpots and sulfurous fumaroles, old-growth forests, and waterfalls.

Lassen Peak
The park is home to Lassen Peak, the world’s largest plug dome volcano and the Cascade Range’s southern-most volcano. Though not extinct, it last erupted in 1921, so hikers can head to the summit via the Lassen Peak Trail. While short at 5-miles round trip, it can be a strenuous walk with a nearly 2000-foot elevation gain and high altitudes – the summit is at 10,457 feet above sea level.

Hydrothermal volcanic activity
Each of the four types of volcano – cinder cone, plug dome, shield, and strato – can be found in the national park. A fantastical world of steaming pools and multi-colored soils, all signs and indications of how volcanically active the park is, awaits day hikers on the Bumpass Hell Trail, a 3-mile round trip.

Old-growth forests
Due to the park’s remoteness and early 20th century volcanic activity, much of the landscape exists as it did before Euro-Americans settled northern California. The 4-mile round trip Juniper Lake Trail heads through one of those old-growth forests as well as alongside the park’s deepest lake.

Only two waterfalls can be found in the park, with Mill Creek Falls, tumbling 75 feet over a cliffside, the tallest of the pair. The Mill Creek Falls Trail runs 3.2 miles to the site.

Find out about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.