Along Lassen Volcanic Park Highway
The main portion of the park is located on the 48-kilometer Lassen Volcanic National Highway, which connects the northwest to Lake Manzanita to the southwest of the park. Part of the road, which is elevated over long stretches, runs through a dense forest area. Numerous vantage points with parking spaces allow different panoramic views of Lassen Peak.
From north to south there are the following highlights: The two short hiking trails around Manzanita Lake and Reflection Lake are worthwhile. Chaos Crags contains the youngest lava domes of the so-called plug volcanoes (between 1,000 and 1,100 years old) and a sparsely vegetated lava debris field that is still extremely fragile. Chaos Jumbles is a cooled stone avalanche. Here, on a cushion of compressed air, debris moved down the valley at a speed of 160 km/h, burying the forest under it and damming Manzanita Creek so that the lake of the same name could form.
According to topschoolsoflaw, the Devastated Area is the region that was hit the hardest by the 1915 eruption and where you can see today how the totally destroyed landscape has slowly recovered. Also worth seeing is the North Summit Lake Picinic Area, from which you can also take a detour to the Twin Lakes (about 6 km hiking trail). One of the most photographed spots in the park – aside from Lake Manzanita – is probably the view of Kings Creek meandering through meadows at the Kings Creek Meadow Scenic Pullout.
Of course, the stop at Lassen Peak Trailhead parking lot is also worthwhile. Here at the highest point of the highway – at 2,594 m – you not only have impressive views of the mighty mountain and the surrounding landscape, but you can also climb the 3,187 m high summit of the volcano via the 4 km long Lassen Peak Trail. From its summit you have a breathtaking panorama over the Cascade Mountains with their forests, lakes and valleys. On a very clear day you can even see Mount Shasta, 120 km away, 4,300 m high. (Walking time there and back approx. 4 hours).
Also beautiful are the two shimmering blue-green glacial lakes, Lake Helen and Emerald Lake, which can also be seen from the road. By the way, both are frozen 7 months a year.
One of the park’s great sensations is of course the Bumpass Trailhead: boiling springs, fumaroles and mud pots as well as bubbling and hissing steam crevices stretch out over an area of 6.5 hectares. The area is named after pioneer Kendall Vanhook Bumpass, who first came here in the 1860s and burned his leg in a boiling puddle he accidentally stepped in. A 5 km circular route with safety devices prevents such unpleasant encounters. The top sensation is Bumpass Hell, where bubbling mud pots and holes in the ground allow foul-smelling sulfur gases to rise to the surface. A spectacle of the extra class. A boardwalk allows safe entry.
Also Sulfur Works offers hydrothermal activity – not quite as large as the Bumpass Area – but in the immediate vicinity of the parking lot of the same name. Here, too, escaping hydrogen sulphide causes strong odors. By the way, Sulfur Works was used commercially for a long time – by the Austrian Mathias Supan (1827-1907), who started mining sulfur and minerals for medicinal purposes here in 1865. His children later recognized the area’s great potential and – after years of litigation over land use rights – established the Supan’s Springs spa, where guests could take a warm bath in the mineral springs. The place was very popular – and a restaurant, a bathhouse and a gas station with a snack bar were built.
Juniper Lake Road
The Juniper Lake area in the south-eastern part of the park – about a 1.5-hour drive (72 km) from the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center – and only accessible via a narrow, partly paved road, offers pure nature. This is not suitable for buses, caravans and mobile homes due to the narrow road and the sometimes very steep course of the road. Accessed from the south via the 36 to Chester and from there onto the CR-318 (to Juniper Lake).
Warner Valley Road
The Warner Valley is located in the southeastern part of Lassen Volcanic Park and, like Juniper Lake, is one of the less frequently visited regions. There is untouched wilderness here with some volcanic activity. At the end of the road, in Warner Valley, there is a campsite – which, however, is not suitable for motorhomes and trailers due to the narrow and steep road. Approaching from the South take the 36 to Chester and from there take the CR-312 (to Warner Valley). Warner Valley is 61 km (about an hour’s drive) from the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center.