Hike to Summit of Mt. Lassen
Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park
A highlight of our Mt. Lassen park
experience was climbing to the top of Mt. Lassen itself. The
mountain is a dormant volcano that last erupted during the years
1914-1917. When I first saw the mountain from a distance, I said
"We're going to climb THAT? It seemed too big to climb.
The hike is about 2-1/2 miles each way and has an elevation
change of 2,000 feet. (The parking lot is at 8,000 feet and the
peak is at 10,000 feet.) Most of the trail was rocky, with no
trees or vegetation except at the lower elevations. Below is a
typical view from the trail.
I brought 2 half-liter bottles of water, which was not enough.
Fortunately, the fresh snow provided a cool source of water. I would
scrape off the top layer of snow to get rid of any settled dust and
dirt, and then scoop up enough snow to make a fluffy 6-inch-diameter
snowball. I would carry the snowball and munch it like a snow cone.
The trail zig-zags up the steep slopes of the mountain, so that it's
easy for city folks like us.
As you approach the summit, a sign points out that you are looking
at the youngest rocks in California. They were produced by the
The summit provides good views, but the rocks did not look as much
like lava as the rocks at Cinder Cone. I thought Cinder Cone was
more exciting, although a real geologist would probably enjoy
visiting both places equally.
During the descent, my daughter always walked as far as possible
from the steep, cliff-like side of the trail, even if it meant
trudging through snow instead of walking on solid ground.
We completed the round-trip hike in about 5 hours, which included a
lot of rest stops. Upon completion of the hike, we started the long
drive home to the Bay Area.
For a more detailed description of the hike to the top of Mt.
Lassen, go to Kevin's