A Couples Guide To Hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park

Our guest post comes from George Kelly, a gifted travel writer who has lived in California his entire life. He enjoys RVing, hiking, fishing, writing and photography and has traveled extensively throughout the United States enjoying these hobbies. 

Photo by Sue Kelly

I first visited Lassen Park, as a teenager, in 1947. Since that first visit I have introduced my wife and many couples to all this great park has to offer.

Located 47 miles east of Redding, California, Lassen Volcanic National Park gives couples a chance to commune with nature in a laid back, unhurried way that many of our larger National Parks, with massive amounts of visitors, cannot equal.

There are no hotels or restaurants in the park. There are 455 campsites located at eight campgrounds throughout the park. All come with a table, fire ring and a bear proof food box. Potable water and restrooms are also available. The largest is at Manzanita Lake located at the west entrance to the park. It has a convenience store, showers, laundry facility, 20 new sleeping cabins, a museum presenting the history of the park and Ranger presented programs for all to enjoy.

For information about these features or to make reservations go to www.recreation.gov.

Photo by Sue Kelly

The main road traverses the park from the western entrance to the southern entrance, at the new Kohm Yah-man-nee Visitors Center, for a distance of approximately thirty miles. When traveling this road you will be treated to spectacular vistas of crystal clear streams, sparkling blue lakes, brilliantly green meadows, multi colored wild flowers, stands of old growth timber and areas that were completely flattened during the eruptions that ended in 1921.

There are slightly over 150 miles of hiking trails running throughout the park. Many of these are accessible as they cross the main road. My wife and I have hiked many of them but I think there are four you should consider starting with.

The first is just a level one and a half miles around Manzanita Lake. If you take this one just as the sun is setting the last rays of sun light will be framing the summit of Lassen Peak and reflecting beautifully on the lake. Trout will be dimpling the surface in their quest for an easy meal of hatching insects while overhead Night Hawks perform a graceful ballet of swoops and dives in search of their share of nature’s buffet.

A visitor’s favorite is the hike to Bumpass Hell. It proves that Lassen Peak is just sleeping and not dead. At 16 acres, it is the largest hydrothermal area in the park

Photo Compliments of Lassen Volcanic National Park

consisting of live steam vents, boiling mud pots, hot springs, mud volcanoes, and boiling pools of water. These are all extremely hot so for your safety stay on the wooden planked walkways. Bumpass Hell is reached by an easy to walk trail of three miles for the round trip. It starts at Emerald Lake on the main road. You will know when you are getting close by the smell of rotten eggs in the air.

A hike up Cinder Cone will require a short drive out of the park and re-entering it at the Butte Lake road. Directions are available at either entrance station. Cinder Cone is a moderate hike of two miles to the base of the cone. From the base to the summit is a strenuous climb of 700 feet. Hiking boots should be worn as the loose cinders make walking up it like walking in sand. It can be tiring but the views make it more than worthwhile. So take your time and enjoy them all.

Photo By Sue Kelly

The climb to the summit of Lassen Peak is the most strenuous hike but well worth it for the outstanding views you will experience. The trail starts from the parking lot at the 8500 foot level and rises to the summit at 10,457 feet. This is a round trip of five miles. Sun glasses, a warm light weight jacket, a good hat and hiking boots should be worn to make this climb. Bring water as none is available on the trail. This climb does not require any technical abilities but rather that you are in fairly good shape. A word of advice, make this hike near the end of your stay so you will be more acclimated to the altitude.

Lassen Volcanic National Park is truly a park where couples can enjoy nature as nature intended it should be.