Lassen Volcanic NP – Trip Planning


What? : Lassen Volcanic National Park Located in northern California Sierra Mountains. It's rich in hydrothermal sites, steaming fumaroles, forest, Alpine mountains, and clear lakes. The summit of the 10,457-foot Lassen Peak Volcano dominates the landscape and can be visible from many miles away.


Where? : Lassen Volcanic National Park Located in northern California Sierra mountains, 50 miles east of the city of Redding. Highway 89 is the main park road that cross the park western section from south to north, from highway 36 at the south to highway 44 at the north. Other forest roads are leading to the east and north sections of this large park.

Google Map Link


When? : The park open year round but I highly recommend visiting here late summer and early spring when all park locations are open and accessible. At winter and up to early summer months (June and some years even July) the main park road can be still close, and some hiking trails are not open to the public. The park lower sections can be open at springtime so even if the park road is still not open to cross you can still visit the north or south sections of the park.

At Winter, Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center at the south park road is open but with almost no access to internal park roads.



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



Due note 1: Before visiting the park check for road and trails opening, there is major change in opening times between years, depending on the winter snow accumulation. When I visit here at 2017, record snow year, they fully open the road crossing the park only on August 1st and we had to change our visit plan, when coming in 2022 it was open in June…


Due note 2: At the summer of 2021 Dixie Fire impact over 60% of the park forest. There are many places with dramatic, high intensity, burned impact where there are other areas where the fire had only partial burned. Most of the east section of the park suffer from this fire and the damage will be visible and significant for many years. Most if not all the west park forest was not damaged by Dixie fire. The fire changed the landscape for many years but the visit here is still rewording.


Due note 3: When I visit here last time (June 2022) the Loomis Ranger Station and the museum at the north park entrance was close. The nearby Manzanita Lake Camper Store was open, and I was able to buy park map, some basic supply and ask informative questions.


Due note 4: The large and new Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center at the south park entrance is open year-round. First time I saw this in national park is that the visitor center parking lot can be used for car or RV camping overnight (need to pay camping fees).


Due note 5: Pets are not allowed on any hiking trails in Lassen Volcanic National Park. I saw that service animals assisting a person with a disability are permitted on park trails, check in the visitor center for exact limitations.


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 visit this park several times, last time was at summer 2022 after the 2021 Dixie fire that impact most of the east side of the park. The large, burned forest area will be impact for many years to come but you can still enjoy the long hikes into the wilderness this park has to offer.

On top of the “usual highlights suspects” you can expect from visiting Sierra Mountain Park like lakes, forests, mountains peaks and alpine views at Lassen the hydrothermal activities and the volcanic geology add another dimension and uniqueness to this park visit.

My only “problem” when visiting here is that because of the high amount of snow this park is getting during winter months some park locations/trails can be open only late in mid-summer, check trail and road opening conditions when you plan your visit.



The visit:


Established in 1916, Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to 10,457-foot Lassen Peak that is the largest plug dome volcano in the world and the southernmost volcano in the Cascade Mountains Range.


Located in the northeast corner of California, the park is home to all four types of volcanoes (shield, composite, cinder cone, and plug dome) and you can still witness today the bubbles, mud poots, steams, and other hydrothermal activity.

The park has huge wilderness forest area with crystal lakes, meadows, and endless trail to explore.


Visiting during winter and spring:

Due to the high elevation mountain range and it location, the park has harsh and cold winters, it gets more snowfall than anywhere else in the California Cascades and in specific high elevation area snowbanks are persistent year-round.

While Lassen is open year-round, many facilities, locations, roads, and trails are only open for the relatively short summer and fall season. Road access is limited in the winter months.

Check before your visit at the park website on road conditions.


The 2021 Dixie fire:

At the summer of 2021 Dixie Fire that was the largest ever recorded fire in California reached its final size of 73,240 acres within the park boundaries, covering most of the east south of the park area.

The west side of the main park road there’s very little fire impact and everything looks green but on the east side you can see the large burn forest devastation with dotted patches of surviving trees.

Over 60% of the park forest has had fire in it. There are places with dramatic high intensity burned impact where all you can see are black burned naked ded standing trunks where there are other areas where the fire had only a light touch.

The Dixie Fire hit all the northeast section of California and reached its final size of 963,309 acres making it the largest single fire in California history. You can see the huge, burned forests areas when traveling to this region, once it was covered with endless dense forest and today covered with standing black, burned, tree stamps.



1 day visit planning in the park:

If you are planning one day visit at the park, I will recommend focusing your visit along the 30-mile park main highway.

You can drive this road north to south or south to north, this depends mainly on where you are coming from and what is your destination after the visit.

If this is a one-day road-trip from the city of Redding than I will recommend starting from the north entrance and drive south on the park main road.

The park scenic route passes through dense forest with several alpine lakes and meadow, climb up to 8,512 feet near Lassen Peak Trailhead, and from there descends the steep mountain slopes into the southwest hydrothermal area.

Along the road there are many designated viewpoints turnouts and parking areas near the trailheads and the main road attractions.

For a day trip you should probably plan to have at least one hike (2-5 miles long), the most recommended one is Bumpass Hell (3 miles long) that demonstrate the best the volcanic and thermal activity in the park. Unfortunately, it was still close when I visit the park so I can’t provide personal information on this hike. Another popular hiking option is Kings Creek Waterfall Hike (2 miles long).

An easy and relax hiking option (1 miles long) that will rewords you with the “classical” Lassen Peak reflection view can be done at Manzanita and Reflection Lakes near the park north entrance.


Below I tried to provide high level information about different attraction points in the park.

Attraction and location points along the main park road (listed from north to south):


Manzanita and Reflection Lake

One of the popular easy hikes in the park is to walk around Manzanita Lake on an easy flat 1.5-mile loop trail. From the west side of the lake, you can see the 10,457-foot Lassen Peak reflected in the lake water (when there is no wind). A preferred time to visit here is at late afternoon when the low sun lighting the peak slopes from the west.

You can connect this trail to another trail on the north side of the road. This addition of 1.2-mile-long loop trail that circling Reflection Lake and the nearby Lily Pond. The entrance to this trail is just across the road from ranger station parking lot.



Loomis Ranger Station

Along the Manzanita Lake you can find the large campground, cabins, Camper Store that also rent paddleboard or kayak.

When I visit there (June 2022) the ranger station and museum were close.



Paradise Meadow Hike:

Starting at Paradise Meadow Trailhead this 2.8-miles hike out and back climb moderately for 1.3-mile 560 ft to the large Paradise Meadows that is surrounded by the mountain range on it far side, on your way up you can see few waterfalls in the creek below you.

This hike is not a “must”, but it is not long and fun to do if you have one and a half hours to spend here.



Summit Lake and Echo Lake Loop Hike

Summit lake is one of the park popular lakes with 2 campground sites (South and North), here you can walk around the lake shore (0.8-mile-long hike), from the east lake side you can see the reflection view of the park mountain peaks.

From Summit Lake Ranger Station and Parking Lot (when driving south on highway 39 this is just before Summit Lake North Campground) you can hike to Echo Lake, this is 4.3 miles long out and back hike. The hike to Echo Lake crosses a burned forest section, other areas near Echo Lake were less affected from the fire.

From Summit Lake Ranger Station I hiked a much longer loop hike of 12 miles long, this hike went deep into the park wilderness and passes near many lakes, most of the trail pass through burned forest areas.

I wrote a detailed blog about this hike.



Kings Creek Waterfall Loop Hike

One of the most popular short hikes in Lassen Volcanic National Park is the 1.5-mile route to Kings Creek Falls (out and back with 500 ft elevation gain climbing back to the car).

Here you can see the 50 feet waterfall and the whitewater cascade running over the volcanic rocks. Most people do this hike as out and back trail. The trail starts at the main park road, going down into a large meadow and from there downhill the whole way to the waterfall, so it is easy hike on the way down, but remember, it is uphill the entire way back. On your way up you will take the one-way trail section that climb parallel to the creek cascade section.

I did here a longer loop hike (4.7 miles) starting at the same trail that is leading down to the waterfall but from there I kept going to Bench Lake and came back to the upper meadow area near the road.

See my detailed blog about this hike.



Lassen Peak Trail

Lassen Peak Trail climbs to the summit of the largest plug dome volcanoes in the world. The trail is out and back 5 miles long that beginning at the Lassen Peak parking area (8500 ft), the trail climbs additional 1950 ft to the summit top.

Snow Conditions can persist through the summer months, when I visit here in June 2022 the trail was still partly covered with snow. Wear proper footwear spikes and consider using trekking poles to help maintain balance.

Unfortunately, At my last visit I did not have the time to hike this trail so I can’t provide more information about this hike, looks like I need to visit here again 😊



Bumpass Hell

Named for the unfortunate Kendall Bumpass who burned his leg when he broke through a thin layer of crust and fell into scalding water.

This gentle 3-mile round-trip hike includes a stretch along a boardwalk with close-up views of boiling mud pots. This is one of the park most visited attraction points, so I do recommend coming here early in the morning or late at the afternoon when it is less crowded.

Bumpass Hell large parking area is located 7 miles from the Southwest Park entrance (if you are coming from the north this is after Lake Helen). The trail starts with gradual climb on it first mile then 200-foot descent into the hydrothermal basin.

Stay on established trails and boardwalks in/around the basin. Ground in hydrothermal areas can look solid but may be a thin crust hiding pools of acidic boiling water or mud. Water and mud in hydrothermal areas is acidic.

Because of its location and high elevation this trail gets a lot of snow during winter and usually open late in the season, check for trail conditions at the park website.

When I visit the park in June 2022 the trail was still covered with snow and close to any public access so I can’t provide more information about it.



Sulphur Works and hike to Ridge Lakes

Located on the park main road you can stop at Sulphur Works Parking, 1.1 mile from Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center. Here you can see, and smell, the bubbling sulfur hydrothermal area on both sides of the road.

I wrote a detailed blog on this park attraction and the hike I did from here to the nearby Ridge Lakes.

See my detailed blog about this hike.



Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center

This year-round visitor center is located one mile from the Southwest Entrance. The visitor center offers an information desk, exhibit hall, auditorium, amphitheater, park store, dining area with fireplace, patio, and a gift shop and cafe. Free Wi-Fi is available inside.

This is the first time I saw in National Park that visitor center parking is allowing car camping for the night. Camping in self-contained vehicles (i.e., no tents) is open and permitted in the adjacent parking area year-round with a camping fee.



Other Park attractions that are not on the main park road:

Cinder Cone and Painted Dunes:

Located in the north Butte Lake Area of the park the dramatic Cinder Cone volcano display a perfect cone shape volcano. At the end of your out and back 4 miles hike, you will climb the steep 200-foot ascent to the summit. From the top rim trail, you will enjoy views of the dramatic cinder cone and the colorful Painted Dunes below you.

See my detailed blog about this hike.



Warner Valley and Juniper Lake Sections:

Juniper Lake is a large lake located at the southeast corner of Lassen Volcanic National Park. This area was severely damaged by Dixie fire. I never visit here so I can’t provide information what you can do in this area.