Lassen Volcanic National Park hosts a wide variety of hiking trails that will appeal to day hikers and backpackers of all levels of ability. Some trails are flat, short, and easy, while others are steep, long, and challenging. But all reward you richly with stunning beauty ranging from flower-filled lush meadows to rugged volcanic landscapes nearly devoid of vegetation.
The 2021 Dixie Fire Burned Much of Lassen Volcanic National Park
Many of the trails in Lassen Volcanic National Park suffered significant damage from the 2021 Dixie Fire. We’ll know more next summer (2022) about just how much has burned and where, along with details of which trails are open for summer 2022.
Fortunately, the trails on the west side of the main park road (Highway 89) suffered little or no damage, and this includes some of the best trails, including Lassen Peak, Brokeoff Mountain, and Ridge Lakes.
See more details on my Northern California Hiking Trails closures and update page.
Lassen Volcanic National Park Hiking Trail Maps
You don’t have to pay for a trail map. The park brochure you receive upon entrance (and available electronically here) shows all the trails in the park, and all trail junctions are usually well marked.
However, it’s always best to have larger maps with greater detail, including topographical lines. You have two good options:
- National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map focuses primarily on the park and forest service roads bordering it.
- The Wilderness Press map includes other areas, including Thousand Lakes Wilderness and Caribou Wilderness.
I think the National Geographic map is the better choice. I’ve given the links to Amazon, but the maps may also be available at the two park visitor centers and, of course, at outdoor stores in Northern California.
Best Backpacking Routes in Lassen Volcanic National Park
This is not an exhaustive list of all the potential backpacking routes/trips you can take in the park. I only list those that I think offer substantial reward for the effort.
Kings Creek Falls and Sifford Lakes: 6.3 miles
Twin Lakes, Snag Lake, and Horseshoe Lake: 18.6 miles
Twin Lakes and Rainbow Lake: 10.0 miles
Manzanita Creek: 6.8 miles
Cinder Cone and Snag Lake: 13.4 miles
Horseshoe, Indian, and Juniper Lakes Loop: 6.4 miles
Snag Lake, Widow Lake, and Jakey Lake: 17.0 miles
My Hiking Guidebooks Cover Lassen Volcanic National Park Trails
I’ve written two hiking guidebooks with extensive coverage of trails in Lassen Volcanic National Park. I’ve been exploring Lassen Volcanic National Park nearly 50 years, and the trails in the book include all the best places in the park.
Day Hiking: Mount Shasta, Lassen & Trinity Alps Regions
The most comprehensive is Day Hiking: Mount Shasta, Lassen & Trinity Alps Regions, released in 2018 by Mountaineers Books, one of the world’s premier publishers of outdoor books. (Click here for full details, including table of contents and overview map.) It includes these hikes (with roundtrip distance and a difficulty rating from 1-5, with 1 being very easy and 5 being very difficult):
From the Main Park Road (linking Highway 89)
Brokeoff Mountain: 7.2 miles; 5
Mill Creek Falls: 3.2 miles; 2
Sulphur Works and Ridge Lakes: 2.2 miles; 4
Bumpass Hell, Cold Boiling Lake, and Crumbaugh Lake: 7.6 miles; 4
Lassen Peak: 5.0 miles; 5
Terrace, Shadow, and Cliff Lakes and Paradise Meadows: 6.4 miles; 4
Kings Creek Falls and Sifford Lakes: 6.3 miles; 4
Twin Lakes and Rainbow Lake: 10.0 miles; 4
Manzanita Lake and Lily Pond: 2.9 miles; 4
Crags Lake: 4.0 miles; 4
Manzanita Creek: 6.8 mile;s 4
South and East Sides of Lassen Volcanic National Park
Boiling Springs Lake and Devil’s Kitchen: 5.2 miles; 4
Mount Harkness: 5.4 miles; 4
Horseshoe, Indian, and Juniper Lakes Loop: 6.4 miles; 4
Mount Harkness and Horseshoe, Indian, and Juniper Lakes Loop both leave from Juniper Lake, accessed from Highway 36 near Chester, California. (I detail two short hikes here on the blog that are not in the book: Inspiration Point Trail and Crystal Lake Trail.)
North Side of Lassen Volcanic National Park
Cinder Cone and Snag Lake: 13.4 miles; 4
Prospect Peak: 7.0 miles; 4
The trailhead for both of these hikes is at Butte Lake, reached from Highway 44.
100 Classic Hikes: Northern California, fourth edition
All-color 100 Classic Hikes: Northern California, fourth edition, contains 10 hikes in Lassen Volcanic National Park. (Click here for full details, including table of contents and overview map.) Here’s the list (with roundtrip distance; difficulty E = easy, M = moderate, S = strenuous; and key attractive features):
Mount Harkness: 5.4 miles; M; far vistas, lake swim
Brokeoff Mountain: 7.2 miles; S; awesome views from high peak
Mill Creek Falls and Ridge Lakes: 5.6 miles; MS; 50-foot waterfall, alpine lakes
Bumpass Hell, Cold Boiling Lake, and Crumbaugh Lake: 7.6 miles; M; fumaroles, mudpots, boiling lakes
Lassen Peak: 5.0 miles; S; signature summit, spectacular vista
Terrace, Shadow, and Cliff Lakes, and Paradise Meadows: 6.4 mile;s M; lakes, meadow, waterfall
Kings Creek Falls and Sifford Lakes: 6.3 miles; M; gorgeous waterfall, secluded lakes
Twin Lakes, Snag Lake, and Horseshoe Lake: 18.6 miles; M; forests, lakes, creeks, views
Manzanita Creek: 6.8 miles; M; creek, meadow, Lassen Peak view
Cinder Cone and Snag Lake: 13.4 miles; M; cinder cone, big lakes, meadows
Lassen Volcanic National Park Backpacking Permits, Rules, and Regulations
You must have a permit for all backpacking trips. You also must use a park-approved bear canister to store all of your food and scented items, as bear interactions with people have increased in recent years. Campfires are not allowed. Contact the park at 530-595-4480 and/or visit the park website for current backpacking regulations and procedures for obtaining a backpacking permit.
Lassen Volcanic National Park Trail Conditions
Overall, the trails are very well maintained. The main issue affecting access is snow, both on roads to trailheads and on the trails themselves. Everyone eagerly awaits the opening of the Lassen Volcanic National Park highway (linking Highway 89), which usually happens from late May into late June, depending on the amount of snow.
The other key factor is trail maintenance and upgrades, which leads to closures for all or part of a summer season.
Get details on current conditions here.
Lassen Volcanic National Park Visitor Centers
There are two excellent visitor centers. Both have exhibits that explore local natural and human history, and both provide information and a variety of free handouts and books and other items for purchase.
Loomis Museum is on the northwest edge of the park on Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway, just east of Manzanita Lake and the Manzanita Lake Campground.
The Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center is on the southwest edge of the park on Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway, beside the Southwest Campground. It also has a restaurant.
Questions about hiking? Other thoughts?