If your heading to Lassen National Park and you are short on time for adventures, go to the Cinder Cone. It’s a bit of a drive to the Northeastern trailhead at Butte Lake, but it is well worth it.
We headed to the Cinder Cone on a Monday afternoon from Lake Almanor Campground, where we had set up camp in an awesome forest service campground! The campground had a public beach, was virtually empty, $18 a night and had LTE on both Verizon and AT&T, so we were able to work right from camp!
When we arrived at the Butte Lake trailhead there were only a handful of cars, we filled up our water and headed out. The trail itself is pretty short, 4 miles total (and that included walking around the entire top of the Cone and walking to the bottom). The first 1.2 miles to the base of the Cone is very flat and good for running. You cruise through some light trees and are right next to the Fantastic Lava Beds which is neat to see!
Now remember when I said the trail was short… the climb up the Cone is steep! 850ish feet of elevation on loose gravel, one step up, two steps back. Joe tried to run and made it about 20 feet or so. While climbing you get a great view of Lassen Peak to the West and the surrounding fantastic lava beds. After a heart pumping climb we reached the top and boy it was something else.
The cone feels like something from the Martian, and we were lucky enough to have the summit to ourselves. We walked around the perimeter and ran down to the bottom of the cone! The whole area has some pretty amazing features so it was nice to just walk around, take pictures and enjoy the scenery.
Now remember we climbed nice and slow to the top of the cone on slippery loose rock… so we decided to run the 800 foot drop down the cone. It was a blast and made for some pretty entertaining video footage!
After a flat and easy trail run out we dipped our feet in the icy cold Butte Lake and hopped in the van back to camp!
Over the next few days we enjoyed our serene and quiet site at Lake Almanor (with full cell service), we worked, worked out and swam.
On Tuesday we worked a half day from a coffee shop in Chester, CA and the whole town essentially lost internet, we took that as a sign that we should be outside! So we packed up some food, filled our water and off we went back into Lassen.
This time we entered from the Southwest, stopped by the visitor center to pick up some trail recommendations and watch the park movie.
Before talking to the ranger we were torn between hiking Brokeoff Mountain and Lassen Peak, the ranger swayed us towards Lassen, a beautiful, 5ish mike hike that starts around 8,000’ elevation and summits at just over 10,000’. The hike up was steep at times, but awarded you with beautiful views of the surrounding land, we could even see the Cinder Cone we had hiked up a few days before!
The other neat thing about this trail was that there were hundreds of Monarch butterflies flitting about all the way up to the summit, something I had never seen and it was just really neat.
After summiting, and FaceTiming Poppa Kramer we took off down the mountain back to the parking lot and our Subway wraps.
We took a quick refuel in the parking lot and sped off further into the park to our next hike, a short 3.5 mile trail run to Kings Creek Falls. The trail itself was pretty mellow and went through a nice meadow, eventually ending at the falls, where we went with the alternate one way route on the way back and would highly recommend, it follows the stream and has some pretty cool stairs cut into the rock.
By this point it was getting late so we drove back into town to check on internet and still no luck! Back to camp we went to get ready for a day of thermal adventures!
Wednesday, same old boring work day for the morning, followed by 12 miles of trail run, our favorite type of day!
After a somewhat longer drive down some dirt roads we landed on the PCT near the Warner Valley Campground. Our plan was to combine a number of trails so we could see a variety of the thermal features the park has to offer.
First stop, a quick run out to boiling lake, which is a striking color or blue and very stinky! From there we continued on the PCT for a few miles, eventually taking a short side trail to the Terminal Geyser (which we have been told is actually a steam vent). We back tracked on the trail and ended up almost at the trailhead, taking a new trail out to Devils Kitchen. Unfortunately, we ended up stuck behind a horseback group that wouldn’t let us pass, which made for a few slow and dusty miles.
Devils kitchen was full of thermal goodness. Steam vents, mud pots, fumaroles, all bubbling hot stinky weird features. We cruised the boardwalks then turned around to make sure we got out ahead of the horse crew. Back at the van we were dusty and hot. We headed back down the dirt road for a few miles until coming to a river which we promptly jumped in and lounged around for a bit to cool down.
The next few days consisted of some uneventful work and a nice drive from Lake Almanor to Reno where Joe was catching a flight back to Seattle.
Overall, we really enjoyed our time in Lassen, the campground, though not in the park, provided us such a great base camp for so many adventures and we were able to see a lot of neat geological features that were unique to the area!
Next stop a few days in Reno running errands and visiting with The Halterman family!