Great Hike: Bumpass Hell
Until I arrived at the hydrothermal basin at the end of Bumpass Hell Trail I wasn’t sure which path I’d select as my Great Hike. Many were enjoyable but this one had steam plumes, radiant ground colors, bubbling waters, and the smell of sulfur in the air. Add that my best views of Lassen Peak came from along the trail and you’ve got the winner. It was a crowded path on this beautiful Saturday but well worth the 3 mile effort each way.
Lassen impressed me most in the lowlands north and east of the volcano. There’s something very appealing to me about clear glacial lakes, evergreen trees and ground cover of pine needles. “Pristine” is the word that comes to mind. I saw it on my walk around Manzanita Lake. I saw it as I prepared and ate lunch at Summit Lake. I saw it as I hiked to King’s Creek Falls. I saw it along the way to Cold Boiling Lake. If I return then I’ll likely focus more on camping and areas not part of the volcanic activity.
Now I know I’ve spoken too soon as I haven’t yet conquered Lassen Peak! The trail to the top is in the middle of a five year redevelopment project. Only the first 1.3 miles of relatively uninteresting path is open to hikers while the remaining 1.2 miles leading to the top is being worked on. Over two million pounds of rock have been helicoptered up to the summit to be used in developing the new path. Given all this and my relatively limited time I chose to postpone this hike. Brokeoff Mountain also appeals to me as it’s the second highest peak and provides wonderful views of Lassen Peak, I’m told.
The park’s main road takes you through some great country. However, unlike most National Parks, Lassen has several unconnected sections. In the northeast is Cinder Cone with it’s extensive lava beds. In the southeast are two entrances which lead to many a pristine river and lake and, no doubt, some enjoyable camping.by