August 21-23

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Toby and I spend the weekend camping at Lassen Volcanic National Park in northeastern California. We camp two nights at the Manzanita Lake campground on the northern end of the park... I haven't camped like this in years!

Day 1 - Saturday, August 21 - Drive to Lassen

We head out early on a cool overcast Saturday morning. We drive north on 101 toward San Francisco over the Bay Bridge onto 80 north toward Sacramento. The sun came out once we reached the Central Valley. We somehow missed our connection to I-505 heading north toward I-5 but quickly realized our error and soon we were on track. We drove north on I-5 a couple of hours before stopping at McDonald's in Conrad for a quick lunch. We were heading to the northern entrance of the park but didn't want to drive up to Redding to head east, instead we cut diagonally from Cottonwood north of Red Bluff through country roads toward 44 just before Shingletown. We stopped along the Sacramento River at Balls Ferry for a quick photo op.

We arrived at the park roughly five hours after leaving home. The skies were bright blue and the temps in the low 70s. We enter through the north entrance by Manzanita Lake since the campground was by the lake. We easily found our reserved site (C-8) and started to set up our camp. Once we were all set we drove over to the nearby Loomis Museum / Visitor's Center. Loomis was the photographer who took incredible photos of the Lassen eruption of 1915. We then stopped by the picturesque Manzanita Lake where people were canoeing and fishing. We then drove to the Devastation Area which is north east of the volcano, the area most effected by the volcanic blast of 1915. The area has mostly recovered since then. On our drive back we stop to see Chaos Crags, the volcano just east of our campgrounds (activity here closed the campgrounds for most of the 1970s). We then head back to camp for dinner (Toby brought stew from home) and to gather firewood. When the sun set the tempertures dropped rapidly but we kept warm with a raging fire. We end the evening playing Bump and Blitz.

  • Toby driving along I-5 north.

  • Sutter Buttes in the middle of the Central Valley, old volcanic remnants.

  • Toby along the Sacramento River at Balls Ferry.

  • FWEE! Alan along the Sacramento River at Balls Ferry.

  • Mt. Shasta as seen from Ash Creek Road.

  • Our campsite C-8 at the Manzanita Lake Campgrounds.

  • Toby starting to pitch our tent.

  • It was a little breezy the first day, we definitely needed the stakes for our tent.

  • Loomis Museum and Visitor Center just outside the campgrounds.

  • Beautiful afternoon by Manzanita Lake.

  • Toby along the south shore of Manzanita Lake.

  • The lake was formed when rocks from the Chaos Crags eruption dammed the river.

We walk along the Manzanita Lake rim trail to take in the serene beauty of this mountain lake. Numerous people were canoeing and fishing from row boats, no motorized boats allowed. (image opens in separate window, double click image in new window to view full size)

  • Devastated Area: this landscape was destroyed during the 1915 eruption.

  • Chipmunks were everywhere in this park.

  • Lassen Peak from the Devastated Area. This side of the volcano erupted.

  • Chaos Crags, the volcano just east of the campgrounds.

  • Alan enjoying his cool bottle of Chardonnay.

  • Our campsite all set up... our home for the next two days.

  • Our campsite at Manzanita Lake Campgrounds.

  • Toby made a wonderful stew at home, we warmed it up for our dinner.

  • The evening got chilly... time to get the fire started.

  • We gathered wood around the campgrounds for our fire.

  • Toby warming up by the fire.

  • Time to play bump! I win the first night.

Day 2 - Sunday, August 22 - Bumpass Hell and Kings Creek Falls

Early Sunday morning brought partly cloudy skies and cold temperatures in the low 40s. Toby quickly made coffee to help us warm up. Once the sun started to rise the temperature slowly rose for an eventual high in the low 70s. For breakfast Toby made pancakes and scrambled eggs with Spam.

We gathered our stuff for the day and headed out early. We made a stop at Manzanita Lake on our way out. The lake lay still and quiet in the early morning light. The still waters reflected the sky like a mirror. Very pretty lake. We drove south along the Lassen Peak Highway heading south to the other side of the park. Along the way we again made a stop at the Devastated Area for a quick photo of Lassen Peak in the morning sunlight. On our drive we passed many scenic viewpoints but the meadow at Kings Creek was awe inspiring... we had to stop. This picturesque alpine meadow was perfectly lit in the morning. The slow meandering creek was bordered by an infusion of wildflowers while the mighty snow covered Lassen Peak loomed in the background. We drove along the road toward the highest elevation at 8,512 feet by Lassen Peak before descending toward a couple of lakes. We stop at Lake Helen, a deep blue alpine lake. We continued our drive south to the Koh Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center. There we made our touristy purchases and planned our day.

We then back tracked along the Lassen Peak Highway and stopped at the various interest points we passed earlier. Our first stop was Sulphur Works, this hydrothermal area boasts bubbling mudpots and steaming fumaroles which emitted clouds strong in sulphur dioxide. I was surprised how close the mudpots were to the road. Our first hike of the day was to Bumpass Hell. The parking lot at the trailhead was full so we parked down the road at Lake Helen and walked back toward the trailhead. The moderate hike afforded beautful views of the alpine landscape before descending into a barren ravine full of steaming fumeroles, bubbling mudpots and azure blue hot springs of acid sulfate. A boardwalk allows visitors to come close to these hydrothermal features.

Our next hike was the Kings Creek Falls hike a relatively short yet steep desent to a pretty 50ft water fall. The snow melt fed a small creek surrounded by lush green foliage and a rainbow of wildflowers. We somehow wandered off the main trail and took a precarious steep path down toward the river and the falls. The strenuous hike was worth the effort to see the falls and the prestine alpine landscape. The hike back up wasn't nearly as difficult since we took the 'correct' trail.

After the hike we headed back to camp and refueled our nearly empty car. We rested before taking a shower then we gathered wood for the evening fire. Toby made hotdogs, porked beans and corn for dinner while I started the fire. Again we ended the evening playing games... this time Toby won in Bump.

  • Burrr.... 40 degrees in the morning ! BURRR!

  • The passing clouds glowed red in the morning sun.

  • Warming up with a cup of Starbucks instant coffee.

  • Manzanita Lake early in the morning.

  • Toby at Manzanita Lake

  • FWEE at the Devastated Area with Lassen Peak in the background.

  • Toby at Kings Creek Meadow.

  • Alan at Kings Creek Meadow.

  • Lassen Peak in the background at King Creek Meadow.

  • The road above King Creek Meadow

  • Toby at Lake Helen.

  • Alan at Lake Helen.

Toby glancing at the mighty Lassen Peak in the background while standing by Kings Creek. (image opens in separate window, double click image in new window to view full size)

  • Toby by the bubbling mudpot at Sulphur Works.

  • Look at the smelly mudpot at Sulphur Works.

  • Toby by the steaming fumerole at Sulphur Works.

  • Closeup of the steaming fumerole vent.

  • Looking south from the Bumpass Hell trail.

  • The trail leads down into a ravine called Bumpass Hell.

  • Toby at Bumpass Hell with one of the azure acid sulphur pools.

  • Alan at Bumpass Hell.

  • Huge steaming fumeroles were everywhere.

  • The boardwalk allows you to walk amongst the heated hydrothermal features.

  • More fumeroles steaming up sulphur dioxide into the air.

  • Toby at Bumpass Hell.

  • The end of the boardwalk led to this stunning blue pool.

  • Hiking back from Bumpass Hell.

  • Gorgeous views everywhere as we head back from Bumpass Hell.

  • Toby facing south from the Bumpass Hell trail.

  • Walking back to our car by Lake Helen.

  • By the King Creek on our hike down to the falls.

  • Alan along Kings Creek.

  • Toby along Kings Creek.

  • A smaller unnamed fall leds down to the larger fall.

  • Alan resting after a steep descent to the river.

  • Toby by Kings Creek.

  • A brightly colored lily along the creek trail.

  • We make it to Kings Creek Falls, a 50ft fall.

  • Alan at Kings Creek Fall.

  • Up above the falls.

  • Purple lupines line the creek.

  • Taking photos of the bountiful wildflowers along the creek.

  • Another small waterfall along the creek.

A view southeast looking out toward the Warner Valley and Lake Almanor. We are on the hike back up from Kings Creek Falls. (image opens in separate window, double click image in new window to view full size)

  • Hiking back on the 'right' trail from Kings Creek falls.

  • Alan at the Warner Valley lookout.

  • A lush green meadow on our hike back from the falls.

  • Resting at our campsite after a long day of sights in the park.

  • Almost time for hot dogs and corn!

  • Alan keeping the fire going... soon the temps will drop.

  • Fire was needed for warmth on these cold nights.

  • Toby wins Bump on the second night.

  • Do I have a good hand during the card game Blitz.

Day 3 - Monday, August 23 - Cinder Cone

We slept well despite the chilly night temps, it was getting out the sleeping bags into the frigid morning air which was difficult. To ease the morning chill I made a fire while Toby prepared pancakes and eggs for breakfast. Quickly after our meal we broke down our campsite and packed everything away.

On our way out we made another quick stop by Manzanita Lake before exiting the park. We then drove up and around the park to reenter the Butte Lake area so we can hike Cinder Cone. We were surprised that we had to drive a bumpy gravel road to access this popular hike. Once at the Butte Lake campgrounds we gathered our backpacks and hit the Cinder Cone trail. The trail skirted the huge basaltic lava fields enroute to the 846ft ascent up Cinder Cone. This relative new cone was formed in the 1650's, the slow moving basaltic lava flow erupted from the base of the cone to form the Fantastic Lava Beds on the north side of the volcano. The hike brought back memories of climbing up the cone when I was only 5 years old. Not sure how I did it back then (most likely on my dad's back), the hike was strenuous and steep on loose deep gravel. Once on top you were afforded spectacular views of Lassen Peak, Butte Lake, Snag Lake and the numerous extinct volcanos that dot the landscape. After walking around the rim of the crater and taking a snack break we descend down the slopes of the volcano. The descent was MUCH easier than the ascent, the deep gravel made it easy to practically run down the slopes. Back at the car we had a picnic lunch by Butte Lake.

By around 2pm, we were ready to hit the road back home to the Bay Area. We made a quick stop at a vista point which had great views of the nearby Mt. Shasta volcano. Once back in the car we headed down the mountain through Shingletown, Manton, Dales toward Red Bluff before joining I-5 back home. We didn't stop once on our drive back to the Bay Area. The over 100 degree temperatures of the Central Valley didn't cool much once we arrived in the Bay Area around 7pm.

We had a fantastic time at Lassen Volcanic National Park and camping in the woods, I'm sure we'll camp again. The park brought back old family memories as well as a new appreciation of the beauty of nature that our local National Parks bring.

  • Toby deflating the air mattress in the tent.

  • A deer appears by Manzanita Lake.

  • At Manzanita Lake.

  • The still waters at Manzanita Lake.

  • We exit the park and head toward Cinder Cone.

  • The gravel road leading to Butte Lake and CInder Cone.

A quiet still morning at Manzanita Lake. (image opens in separate window, double click image in new window to view full size)

  • Walking by Butte Lake enroute to Cinder Cone.

  • The edge of the basaltic lava flow.

  • On the Cinder Cone trail which skirts the lava beds.

  • Toby with Cinder Cone in the background.

  • Alan and Cinder Cone and an over 800 foot ascent.

  • Time to climb that volcano!

  • Alan taking a rest on the ascent.

  • Toby forging up the slopes with Lassen Peak in the background.

  • Toby at the top of the volcano facing north.

  • FWEE... at the very top of Cinder Cone with Lassen Peak in the background.

  • Toby and the Fantastic Lava Beds at the foot of the cone.

  • Toby and Alan at Cinder Cone.

A panorama of the Cinder Cone summit taken from the highest point of the rim trail. In the distance is Snag Lake and Lassen Peak. (image opens in separate window, double click image in new window to view full size)

  • The cinder dunes contrast next to the black basaltic lava flows.

  • Views from the top of the cone.

  • Toby with Snag Lake in the background.

  • Alan after a quick snack break.

  • A trail leads down to the very throat of the cone.

  • Lassen Peak as seen from Cinder Cone.

  • Lunch time by Butte Lake.

  • Mount Shasta as seen from a roadside viewpoint.

  • Alan and Mount Shasta.

  • It's over 100 degrees driving south in the Central Valley.

  • The Golden Gate and Alcatraz from the Bay Bridge... almost home.