What? : This hike, although
relatively easily accessible from the main road, gets into the wilderness area
of the park where you will cross a mountain ridge and get into less visited mountain
area that has many lakes. This area was hit by several wildfires, including the
2022 Dixie fire and for most of the time you will hike in a partly or fully burned
The hike I did here was the longer 12-miles Cluster Lakes loop (it took me 5.5 hours to complete with almost no stops, plan for 6-7 hours hike), this is a rewording hike, and you will probably be the only one out there. Another, and more popular, hiking option is to hike out and back to Echo Lake, this is 4.5-miles hike.
Where? : Summit Lake
Ranger Station Trailhead located 17 miles north of the southwest entrance or 12
miles southeast of the northwest entrance. This is a small exit from the main
park road leading to a parking lot in the woods. If you are coming from the
north and you reach the Summit Lake North Campground entrance you just missed
it, if you are coming from the south this is the first right turn after you are
passing the north Campground.
If you are
staying at one of the Summit Lake Campgrounds, you may also pick up the Summit
Lake trail from there.
When? : You can
reach the trailhead parking lot once the main park road is open from the north
and you can drive up to Summit Lake. When the park road is open south to north
you can reach here also from the south park entrance.
Additional Lassen Volcanic Park Blogs and Related Posts:
Lassen Volcanic NP – Trip Planning
Lassen Volcanic NP – Echo Lake and Cluster Lakes loop hikes
Lassen Volcanic NP – Kings Creek Waterfall Hike
Lassen Volcanic NP – Sulphur Works and Ridge Lakes Hike
Lassen Volcanic NP – Cinder Cone and Painted Dunes
North California - Waterfalls Loop Road-Trip (Redding – Shasta)
McArthur Burney Falls State Park
Potem Creek Falls, Shasta-Trinity National Forest
Hatchet Creek Falls, Shasta County
McCloud River Falls, Shasta-Trinity National Forest
Lake Siskiyou and Faery falls, Shasta County
Heart and Castle Lakes Hike, Shasta County
Hedge Creek Falls, Shasta County
Castle Crags State Park
Due note 1: Echo Lake hike
is relatively popular hike, but the longer 12-miles loop is less visited.
Due note 2: The trails
here, and at the rest of the park large wilderness area are less (not)
maintained so much and in some cases are in bad conditions. The fires that burned
through the park in the last 20 years left the deed tree trunk standing and after
several years they fall and block the trails. The focus of the park trail maintenance
crews is on the most popular trails, campgrounds, and facilities so all other
trails are not maintained. This 12 mile hike passes through some sections where
it difficult to find the trail.
Due note 3: In this hike
you will pass by many lakes (I counted 10 larges lakes), I hiked here in June but
I’m sure they all have water year-round so you do not need to carry a lot of
water with you, bring a filtration bottle and you can fill water.
Due note 4: I highly recommend
for this hike to use a navigation phone application. I’m usually using GaiaGPS
but also Alltrail is good. There aren’t any major navigation challenges here
but in some sections the trail is not clear and covered with falling logs and
you may miss trail junctions. It is always good to have a navigation app on top
of a paper map that you always need to carry with you…
I also recommend
to carry with you a charging battery-bank for the phone…
Due note 5: Pets are not
allowed on any hiking trails in Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Due note 6: As Always bring
plenty of water to your hike, it can be hot out here and when crossing burned
forest areas there is no shade, and you are fully expose to sun.
Due note 7: Lassen is home
to an estimated 50 black bears. As in the rest of California there are only
Black Bears even if their color is brown.
When hiking Cluster
Lakes loop hike, I saw a Bear, he was relatively far and running away from me,
but I still manage to take some pictures.
When Hiking be Bear
aware and stay safe, for more information:
My thoughts: I really enjoyed
this hike. Although you will hike in many sections where the fire completely burned
and destroyed the forest and all you can see are standing burned tree trunks,
because it was different this is a hike I will remember. The north section of
the trail cross an old fire area where all the ded trees are with gray/white
color, many of them fall and completely cover the trail.
Interesting side-effect of the fire is that the landscape is now “open”. Usually when hiking in such forest covered area you do not see a lot of the landscape and all you can see is the woods near the trail. Here where the fire “clears” the forest you can see the surrounding mountains, valleys, and lakes in the area. This is why I manage to spot the bear from several hundred feet away.
There are few hiking options starting from Summit Lake Ranger Station Trailhead: hike out and back to Echo Lake (4.5 miles hike), or as I did a much longer and less visited loop hike that cover a lot more of the park remote wilderness (12 miles hike, it took me 5.5 hours to complete with almost no stops, plan for 6-7 hours hike).