I have always wanted to hike Mt Lassen in the Lassen Volcanic National Park (part of the Cascade Range) so we made it a point to make the trip to the park over Labor Day weekend. Lassen peak is undergoing a lot of restorations for the next three or four years, so there is only three weekends out of the whole year that you are able to climb it and one of those weekends happened to be the weekend we were there. We headed out for the hour drive from Red Bluff and made it to the park around 8 in the morning. There was only a couple cars there and we paid our ten dollars and entered the park.
To say this park was beautiful is a complete understatement, the peaks, flowers and lakes all add to beatuy that you can see from every direction you look. We started the drive to the Lassen Peak parking area and were immediately greeted by Lake Helen that was perfectly reflecting the peak in the early morning light. It was impossible to take a bad picture here and I think the one below may be one of my favorite pictures I have shot.
I stopped to snap a couple shots and admire the beauty and daunting size if the peak before progressing to the parking lot. From the parking lot it is about 2.6 miles to the top of the summit and while that might not seem like a lot, the elevation gain is over 2000 feet and it ascends from 8000 to 10500 feet, so the air is thinner then most people are used to. We saw kids, adults and elderly making the hike, so anyone can do it as long as you pace yourself and stop when you need to. That being said this hike is not easy, it took us about an hour and a half to make it up to the summit and about three hours total with hanging out at the top and then descending.
From the top you can see all the way to Mt Shasta as well as many left over remains of volcanic rock and other interesting sites. Lassen Peak itself erupted in 1913 and it is one of only two continental US mountains that erupted in the 20th century. When it exploded it rained ash as far as 200 miles away and you can see it in the way the surrounding terrain looks. On top of the summit there is also a strangely shaped volcanic monitor system, I will let your mind decipher what you think it looks like as we both came to the same conclusion.
Some of the stand out parts on this hike are the Vulcan eye that is perfectly carved out of the side of the rock.
The view from the right of the mountain as you ascend with the really steep cliff that plunges all the way down to the valley below.
The view of the summit from the top with the snow you have to cross and the rock climbing you have to do to make it to the summit.
Then the view from the summit to the opposite side from where you look down.
This is a stunningly beautiful hike and the views make it one of the best summits I have done in my life and I have done a lot. I would highhly recommend it to anyone and even though you might hate me on the way up, you will thank me when you reach the summit.