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Lassen Volcanic National Park

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Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is not one of the more famous national parks. In fact my Fordors National Parks of the West does not even mention it. I discovered its existence when plotting a route up to Crater Lake so we decided to visit. If you are heading north out of California, get off the Interstate 5 and treat yourself to this rarely visited gem.

The park itself is centred around Lassen Peak the worlds largest plug dome vocano. It last erupted in 1914 and did not stop until 1921. It was the last active volcano in America until Mount Saint Helens erupted in 1980.

It is remote and we saw very few signs of settlement between Chico to the south and Burney to the north. In fact we were beginning to think we would not find anywhere to eat when we found a general store and retaurant at Mill Creek just outside the south entrance to the park.

We had not prepared well enough and had too little time available to see what there is to see in the park. We did not have time to take the footpath to Bumpass Hell - a geothermal area, nor did we have time to walk the footpath to the top of Lassen Peak much to the chagrin of my boys who wanted to climb the volcano. However, we did smell the bad eggs at sulphur works and see the bubbling fumaroles of little hot springs and we did play in the snow near the start of the path to the top of Lassen Peak - in mid August. We also had a walk along the edge of Summit Lake a truely tranquil rich experience.

I'm not a backpacking/camping sort of person, but a place like this makes me think about trying it out.

For a nearby place to stay, try Burney.

Site visitor post 15.4.03
I would consider this a fairly strenuous hike - I did this at a time when I was in "average" condition, and afterword, I was done for the day. Quite exhausted.
One cousin was in similar shape. My brother and another cousin were younger, and in better than average shape, and were tired, but not exhausted. The view from the top is spectacular, of course. Mt. Shasta is the most prominent thing on the horizon, many miles away to the north, yet clearly visible as a large snowy peak (we were also there in August).
You can plainly see why they call it a plug volcano - at the top you can walk around the congealed plug that blocks up what would otherwise be a caldera. From the top you can also make out the remains of ancient Mt. Tehama - Mt. Lassen is actually just a piece of the rim of the old volcano! Again, quite interesting, geologically.
Mount Lassen is actually a pretty good place to go camping for a "car camper". Most of the interesting features of the park are reasonably accessable by car, and the place is not crowded, even on holiday weekends.

Site visitor post 11.8.03
We visited Lassen and were also disappointed not to be able to try the Lassen peak trail which was swathed in cloud.
However, if you are in the area I would recommend the Mineral Lodge just outside the park's southern entrance. Basic accommodation (but clean) and excellent value for money in the restaurant. We had the best steaks on our holiday there at around $12 as against $50 a head at some of the places we visited where the cost of a meal seemed directly linked to the obsequiousness
[grovelling, deferential, serville - I had to look it up! ] of the waiter, and not to the quality of the food!

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