Lassen Volcanic National Park was the most unique and interesting National Park I have visited. Once you have hiked the Bumpass Hell Trail you will understand why this park is unique and interesting. First, the name of this area is interesting and is named after Kendall Bumpass a disgruntled explorer who lost a leg after falling into a boiling pool in 1864. Second, you will smell the area long before you reach it. Third, once you reach the area from the hiking trail you will think you have been transported to another planet. Fourth, you will wonder why did I hike down to this area – it stinks (smells like perm solution and rotten eggs – mmm), makes weird noises (boils, bubbles and burps). I think the hike is 50% curiousity and 50% educational (this area was once covered by the ancient volcano Mount Tehama).
By far you can see more geothermal features here and up close than the Sulphur Works area along the highway in the park. You can start the hike from the Lake Helen parking area or from the Kings Creek picnic area. Basically you hike down to the area and then hike back up and out of the area. Check out the mudpots, sulphurous steam vents, and the Big Boiler (Fun Fact: the Big Boiler is the largest fumarole in the park and the hottest in the world, emitting steam at temps up to 322°F). The water in this area is acidic and has colorful mineral deposits, like a blue -gray.
Remember to stay on the trail and boardwalk provided in the Bumpass Hell area. You will get dirty on this hike – we were covered in a white-gray dirt.
Fun Facts: Lassen Peak formed along a side vent of Mount Tehama then collapsed in on itself forming a plug-dome volcano. The Park is one of the few areas where all four types of volcano can be found – cinder cone, plug dome, shield, and strato.
Hiking to Lassen Peak – I do not recommend trying to complete this hike on a busy holiday weekend like we tried to do. The trail was just too busy for us so we turned around not quite half way up and headed back down the trail. The part we did hike was challenging and progressively got more difficult as we headed up. Once you get through the tree line you are hiking around rocks of all sizes and shapes and a dirt trail that shifts with each step. We were new to hiking when we attempted to reach the top of Lassen Peak – probably about time to head back and try it again now that we are more experienced hikers.
Check out Manzanita Lake and Lake Helen while touring the park. Beautiful higher elevation lakes.
We had a deer experience on the way to the park where we came around a curve and found five deer on the road – pretty scary when hauling a trailer on behind your vehicle. The deer were pretty active when we visited the park – probably getting ready for the winter months.
Great Hiking and a Unique & Interesting Park to Visit!