The Ridge Lakes Trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park is a steep climb from Sulphur Works, but the beauty and solitude justify the effort. And Lassen Peak? It’s the highest point in the park.
It started Saturday afternoon with tomatoes. Two dozen delectable, home-grown, bite-sliced varieties laid out on long tables on the spacious deck of a stunning home in Hammond Ranch near Mount Shasta. A tomato-tasting party with finger foods and fine wines and good conversation with great local people. It was a good beginning for my sweetheart Stephanie’s 44th-birthday weekend trip.
Birthday girl Stephanie Hoffman at Manzanita Lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Hiking Ridge Lakes Trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park
The next morning we left early, driving Highway 36 from Red Bluff, past Mineral, and into Lassen Volcanic National Park. I took Stephanie on my favorite “secret” hike in Lassen Volcanic National Park: the Ridge Lakes Trail. We started at Sulphur Works, a steaming and stinky part of the volcanic heart of ancient Mount Tehama/Brokeoff Volcano.
From there we hiked up the steep Ridge Lakes Trail past the glacially eroded remains of Mount Tehama/Brokeoff Volcano, soon reaching the hour-glass-shaped Ridge Lakes. After an appropriate time admiring the lakes, we climbed a small peak, equidistant from Brokeoff Peak and Mount Diller, with spectacular views over much of Lassen Volcanic National Park to the east and Mount Shasta, the Trinity Alps, and the Yolla Bolly Mountains to the north and west.
Ridge Lakes in Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Chester, CA Bed and Breakfast
Wanting to make Stephanie as happy as possible (and to raise my point total against future relationship fumbles), I surprised her with a night at Bidwell House Bed and Breakfast in Chester by Lake Almanor. We thoroughly enjoyed our Robin’s Roost room, the comfortable decor of the main quarters, the delicious breakfast, and especially the kindness and attentiveness of owners Eva and Filip Laboda.
The next morning I sang Stephanie “Happy Birthday,” and then we [CENSORED]. Afterwards we ate the breakfast, wandered the grounds hand-in-hand, and took a leisurely soak in our in-room jacuzzi.
Lassen Peak Trail
And the main course of Stephanie’s birthday–back into Lassen Volcanic National Park to climb Lassen Peak. The trail goes up, up, up. We took our time–taking pictures, talking with fellow hikers, absorbing the vistas of late summer in the high mountains. Lassen Peak is the second-highest in this neck of the woods (10,453 feet elevation), second only to Mount Shasta to the north. Its sweeping views alone make the Lassen Peak Trail a fantastic hike, but we also got a workout. As I said to Stephanie, “It ain’t hard, but it ain’t easy either.”
Stephanie Hoffman on the Lassen Peak Trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park. (Photo by John Soares)
(The Ridge Lakes Trail is Hike 3 in 75 Hikes in California’s Mount Shasta and Lassen Volcanic National Park Regions, revised edition and Hike 31 in 100 Classic Hikes in Northern California, third edition. The Lassen Peak Trail is Hike 5 in 75 Hikes in California’s Mount Shasta and Lassen Volcanic National Park Regions, revised edition and Hike 32 in 100 Classic Hikes in Northern California, third edition.)
Stephanie Hoffman looks at Eagle Peak, Pilot Peak, Mount Diller, and Brokeoff Peak from the Lassen Peak Trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park.