Place Name: Lassen National Park
Place Description: State: California
Elevation: 10,457 Feet
Prominence: 5,229 Feet
Elevation Gain: 2,182 Feet
Lists: California County HP, Cascade Volcanoes, Ultras of North America, Western States Climbers
Let's Climb A Volcano!
There is something cool about climbing a volcano. Especially one that last blew only 100 years ago! The hike up Lassen is one that everyone should do and is not overly difficult if you are in good shape. Start early and beat the crowds!
- Short hike
- The blast crater is awesome
- Busy trail
- Can hold snow and ice well into summer
- Only one route
As far as ultra prominent peaks with a cool back story go, you won’t be finding anything easier to conquer than Lassen Peak.
Located in Lassen National Park of Northern California, this 10,457-foot volcano towers above the surrounding landscape. With its last eruption barely 100 years ago, there are so many cool interpretive signs and stories that line the trail. It also gives you the slight uneasiness that you are climbing a giant rock that could technically ignite at any time!
When you think of California’s nine National Parks, Lassen Volcanic gets lost a bit in the shuffle. Sitting east of Redding in the northeastern area of the state, Lassen sees far less visitors than Yosemite or Sequoia National Parks.
Winter also closes the road into Lassen NP, making this more of a summer-fall destination only. The trailhead is located in a huge parking lot only a few miles past the visitor center on CA-89. The drive from the visitor center to the trailhead is simply breathtaking.
The trail is a little under 3 miles from the start to the summit and gains around 2,000 feet. This is probably the most popular trail in the park and is susceptible to the thunder storms, so an early start is recommended.
This single track is completely exposed to the sun. Don’t expect to find any shade. I’d suspect it’s very hot on these rocks during a hot a summer day. There are interpretive signs and mileage markers every so often that tell you about the flora and fauna and the past eruptions. This trail is basically a long series of switchbacks that negate the steepness of this mountain quite a bit.
The early spring and summer season the trail still has a lot of snow and ice and can be very dangerous with long run outs should you fall. My first trip here in June, my son and I turned back halfway up the mountain because the footing was really bad. Also, don’t try cutting the switchbacks. The rock is very loose and can cause injury.
Once to the summit of Lassen Peak, you are treated to some amazing views. The biggest visual treats are Mount Shasta, Lake Almanor, and the devastation area from the last eruptions. I could even see Fredonyer Peak which I hiked last time I was out this way.
The last section to the summit is a bit of a scramble, but nothing difficult.
After standing on the high point, make sure to walk into the blast crater. There are some unofficial trails that work their way through this area and it’s simply awesome! We had so much fun meandering through this part of the mountain.
The Final Word
What can I say? This is a hike that even novice hikers do to get a cool Instagram shot, but don’t let that deter you. Lassen Peak is every bit worth the visit. I climbed over 100 mountains in 2020 and this was in the top 5.
Don’t just set your sites on Lassen Peak and leave. Take time to explore the entire park. It’s a beautiful place. We hiked over to Mount Helen which is off trail and fun class 2 scrambling. After that we saw the boiling mud down in Bumpass Hell.
Next year I plan to return so I can summit Brokeoff Mountain which I’ve read is an even cooler hike than Lassen Peak!