The Inspiration Point Trail is a top attraction for hikers in the Juniper Lake area of Lassen Volcanic National Park.
The hike to Inspiration Point certainly gets the heart pumping. But considering that the trail travels a modest 0.7 mile and ends at a relatively low final elevation, Inspiration Point offers surprisingly good views of nearby Juniper Lake plus many of Lassen Volcanic National Park’s other lakes and peaks.
2021 Dixie Fire Update for Lassen Volcanic National Park Trails, including Inspiration Point and Juniper Lake
Much of the eastern portion of Lassen Volcanic National Park has burned in the 2021 Dixie Fire. Most or all of the hiking trails will be closed in the area until at least the summer of 2022, including trails at and near Inspiration Point and Juniper Lake. Get details from the park here.
Inspiration Point Trail Key Data
Distance: 1.4 miles round trip
Type: Day hike
Elevation gain: 400 feet
High point: 7202 feet
Season: late June through mid-October
Contact: Lassen Volcanic National Park
Maps: USGS 7.5′ Mount Harkness, Lassen Volcanic National Park brochure
Nearest campground: Juniper Lake Campground
Inspiration Point Trailhead GPS coordinates: N 40 28.001 W 121 18.469
Notes: dogs prohibited
Inspiration Point Trailhead Directions
On Highway 36 in Chester, go 100 feet east of the North Fork Feather River Bridge and turn north on Feather River Drive. Bear right after 0.7 mile. The pavement lasts another 5.5 miles; the road runs rough the rest of the way (too rough for trailers). Reach trailhead parking near Juniper Lake’s north shore 13.4 miles from Highway 36. The hike begins just east of the parking area.
Hiking the Inspiration Trail
The hike starts nearly level as it leaves Juniper Lake behind and travels through a forest of lodgepole pine, western white pine, and red fir that shades an understory of pinemat manzanita and grasses. However, the way soon steepens as the forest opens. Look 100 feet to the left at 0.3 mile for a large, weather-battered Jeffrey pine; then, just before the top, see greenleaf manzanita and a small thicket of bush chinquapin.
Camp for Free in California National Forests
California’s national forests and BLM lands have thousands of miles of dirt roads with lots of spots for dispersed camping (boondocking). My book provides all the info you need to get started (but is not a guide to specific sites):
- Researching the best locations
- Finding the best camping spots
- Backcountry safety and ethics
- What to take
Reaching Inspiration Point
Crest the top of Inspiration Point at 0.6 mile. From here, the trail goes another 200 yards along a ridge populated by white firs and the previously encountered tree species. When you look beyond the immediate surroundings to the encircling mountainous tableau, you’ll agree that Inspiration Point deserves its name.
To the south, Crystal Cliffs guards the broad expanse of Juniper Lake, with Mount Harkness just beyond and the northern Sierra Nevada stretching off into a gauze of haze. Swinging westward, Saddle Mountain, Pilot Mountain, and Mount Conard lead to the dominating range anchored by Brokeoff Peak and Chaos Crags and centered by Lassen Peak.
To the northwest rise Magee Peak and distant Mount Shasta, while more due north are Prospect Peak and West Prospect Peak, Cinder Cone, Fantastic Lava Beds, Snag Lake, and Mount Hoffman. To the east, forested slopes stretch into the Caribou Wilderness.
Want more nearby hiking? Do the short Crystal Lake Trail.
More Lassen Volcanic National Park Hiking Trails
I’ve written two books that have all the best trails in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Day Hiking: Mount Shasta, Lassen & Trinity Alps Regions has 16 hikes in the park, while 100 Classic Hikes: Northern California, fourth edition, has 10 hikes. Both are available at many bookstores in Northern California, always from Amazon here and here, and frequently at the two visitor centers in Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Best Day Hiking Trails in Upper California
- Mount Shasta and nearby
- Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Trinity Alps and Marble Mountains
- Redding area
- Whiskeytown and Shasta Lakes
Includes trailhead directions and detailed maps and trail descriptions
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