In August of 2011, Marcy and I camped and hiked in Lassen Volcanic Area National Park (map). We began our adventures with a hike to Bumpass Hell which was named for a former property named Bumpass. It was said that he lost a leg walking around this area (pictured to the left) when he broke through a thin crust of earth and into the boiling water below.
There was quite a bit of snow no the trail leading to Bumpass Hell because there had been heavy snows in the late Spring and the rangers had not yet taken down the warning sign which read “Trail Hazardous – Travel Not Recommended”. We made our way over the hills and down into the Bumpass Hell basin.
We were careful to stay on the boardwalk and well travelled paths as we didn’t want to end up like Bumpass. There was a strong smell of sulphur although it was not particularly unpleasant. There were many different colors in the rocks and clay-like soil surrounding the area which made the experience somewhat psychedelic.
Next up was a hike to Mill Creek Falls which was a fairly long hike with a lot walking up and down hills. The falls are quite high and there is an overlook point where you can see the whole falls as well as a wooden foot bridge that crosses the top so allowing you to look down at the water rushing below you.
After that, we made our way to the northern section of the park to hike up and around the cinder cone. The hike up is pretty steep and you are walking on gravel so the footing is not the best. We got an early start and managed to get to the top before anyone else so we had the place to ourselves for an hour or so.
The view from the top is breath-taking – and very windy – as you can hear in the video below. There are some trees growning on the top of the cinder cone which provide some shelter from the wind. From the top you can see Mount Lassen, the painted hills, the (so-called) fantastic lava beds and Butte Lake.
From the rim, we hiked down into the basin. There is a steep gravel trail that spirals down to the bottom where a large pile of rocks has been gathered by hikers over the years.
After leaving the Cinder Cone, we made our way down the east side of the park and did some hiking and camping. We were able to manage driving on the logging roads in our Prius which has very low-clearance.
At one point, we stopped in Susanville for some groceries and came out to find that one of our tires was completely flat. We were lucky it didn’t happen when we were camping on the east side of the park since we had no cellphone access there. Between AAA and the help of a local tire repair place, we were able to get back on the road without too much difficulty.
Our last stop in Lassen was the Devil’s Kitchen which is another “local hot spot” with steam vents and bubbling mud pots.
We started out our hike to the Devil’s Kitchen from our campsite near the Drakesbad Guest Ranch. There is a creek running through the meadow behind the ranch that the trail to the Devil’s Kitchen passes through and we discovered several water wheels that someone had created out of what looked like dental floss, bark and wood.
All in all, we really enjoyed our trip to Lassen and would highly recommend it to anyone who’s into hiking, camping and exploring the natural world. One especially nice aspect of visiting Lassen National Volcanic Park is that it’s not as well known as many of the other big parks (like Yosemite) and so even in the height of the season (when we visited) we had no problem finding campsites and none of the trails we hiked on were very crowded. You can view a slidehow of photos from our trip below…