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I'll make this brief, as I have a thousand and one things to do tonight (and want to get this posted). Great camping trip in Lassen. Second time I've been there, the first time with my dad. I stayed 4 days, 3 nights of solo camping in Manzanita campground near the northern entrance to the park.
Lassen Volcanic National park is one of the lesser known National Parks. It was the site of a 1914 eruption and evidence is quite visible throughout the park. That being said, it's a beautifully green and scenic park, offering some great views and photographic opportunities.
The campgrounds are top notch, as you'd expect from a National Park. Manzanita Lake has great campsites and a small general store (in case you forgot any critical items, like marshmallows). The lake itself is an easy 1.5 mile loop and offers great views of Lassen and local wildlife. There are bears in the park, so the normal precautions are necessary (did not see any, but heard one in my camp Tuesday night).
In terms of hikes, I did Bumpass Hell and the Cinder Cone. I would recommend both. Both are fascinating examples of the volcanic history (and present) of Lassen and incredibly scenic as well. Bumpass Hell trailhead is right off the main road through the park, but Cinder Cone requires an hour drive from Manzanita Lake (6 miles of which are down a well-maintained dirt road). For those in better shape than I, I've heard great things about climbing Lassen itself as well as nearby Brokeoff Mountain. I didn't fish at all this trip, but Manzanita lake offers some great fly-fishing opportunities.
Mike's Recommendations (if you decide to visit):
- When to visit: I've been there in July and in September. Avoid going too soon, as the park is snowed in (heavily) in the winter. While there in July, the peak was covered in snow. Unsure of crowds during peak season, but it's mostly empty after labor day, especially mid-week.
- Where to Camp: Both times I've been to Lassen, I've camped at Manzanita Lake Campground. And both times, I've been very happy. Imagine the quality of Yosemite without the crowds. Plus, you're near Manzanita Lake, which is fun short hike.
- Campground Reservations: You don't need them in the off-season and I always enjoy shopping around for my campsite (as far away from others as possible). Loop D at Manzanita is first-come, first-served.
- Bears: Each campsite is provided with bear lockers. Use them. I heard bears in my campsite at night. Recommend putting toothpaste, deodorant, etc in the bear locker as well (if only so you don't regret it when you hear grunting next to your tent that night).
- Advanced Hikes: If you're in good shape, consider Mt. Lassen Peak and/or Brokeoff Mountain. Heard great things about both from friends, but never done either myself.
- Bumpass Hell Hike : 3 miles roundtrip. Moderate hike with some great views. Plus, you get ot see the most hydro-thermally active part of the park. Safe for kids, as long as they stay on the decking surrounding the main area.
- Cinder Cone Hike: 4.4 miles roundtrip. Strenuous, as you're hiking in loose rock, most of it uphill. Don't let the 700 foot elevation change fool you. This hike kicked my tail. If you only hike to the base and back, it could qualify as "moderate". Also recommend starting early, as it's an hour's drive from Manzanita lake to the trailhead at Butte Lake, including 6 miles down a dirt road to the trailhead. You also want to start early, so you aren't hiking up the side of the cinder cone in the heat of the day (with no shade). Butte lake has campsites as well.
- Manzanita Lake: Easy 1.5 mile roundtrip. Great, easy, short hike with outstanding wildlife viewing and beautiful views of Lassen reflected in the lake on a still day.
Individual Photos (130 photos)
Driving Directions (courtesy of Google Maps)
Lassen Main Page(www.nps.gov/lavo)
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