Saturday, July 4, 2015

Adventure in Lassen Volcanic National Park: Lassen Peak Trail

Happy 4th of July!

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I traveled to Lassen Volcanic National Park with the intention of hiking Lassen Peak Trail (10,457 feet above sea level) as a way to test if I could handle higher elevations.  Prior to Lassen, the highest trail I had climbed was Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, which is 8,844 feet above sea level.

Once we started the hike, I noticed right away that I was breathing pretty heavy, as if I had been running away from a rabid unicorn.  At first I was embarrassed, because I felt like I was just out of shape.  But then I noticed that my husband and the few other hikers on the trail were huffing and puffing as well.  I realized then that what I was feeling was normal, and decided that instead of dwelling on how out of shape I was, I would make sure to pay attention to my body for signs of altitude sickness--a potentially life-threatening condition.  Thankfully, I was able to reach the summit symptom free.

While I was up there, I noticed that many of the hikers would quickly look around, take their victory shot with Mt. Shasta in the background, and then begin their descent.  This confounded me.  Why, after over two miles of hiking and sounding like you are auditioning for the role of the Big Bad Wolf, would you not find a nice spot to sit and soak in the view?  Needless to say, my husband and I found a cozy spot between two medium-sized boulders.  For half an hour, we sat and listened to the sound of the wind blowing and ravens calling overhead as we slowly ate our modest meal of dried salmon jerky and rye bread.  We would have stayed longer but the summit, though beautiful, offers very little shelter from the wind, and neither of us had packed a thick-enough jacket to avoid becoming chilled.

Depending on how quickly you trek, the entire hike takes about 3-4 hours.  It took us just over 2 hours to go up, and a little over 1 hour to return to the parking lot.  The trail itself is a mix of varying degrees of gravelly rock and snow patches with absolutely no rock-climbing required.  It is also one of the best-maintained trails I have ever seen.  You can expect to find wind-blasted tree cover for pretty much the entire trail, except the last leg.

In respect to the snow--California is in a drought and the amount of snowfall on Mt. Lassen when we visited in June is way below average.  Apparently, Mt. Lassen should be covered in snow all the way to the parking lot (see video and first picture on blog) and not be "easily" accessible till August.  We met a lovely couple from Redding, CA--a town not far from Lassen--who were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary, and who confirmed the low levels of snow.

Regardless, Lassen Volcanic National Park is gorgeous and there is SO much to see besides Mt. Lassen itself.  Also, it is not as crowded as, say, Yosemite.  Even the drive through the National Park is breathtaking and offers plenty of scenic places to pull over and stretch your legs.

I'm looking forward to going back, and this time I will pack a thicker sweater ;)


  1. You are so awesome for doing this and for sharing the amazing video and pics!

    1. That is such a sweet comment!! I'm so glad you enjoyed it <3

  2. Glad you got to see northern california and oregon.....its one of the best places I've ever traveled to and I wish I had more time to look around because I drove past so many beautiful places out time....

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