Cascades & Sierra Nevada Road Trip Part 3: Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Peak and Manzanita Lake

On our way home from backpacking Ediza and Thousand Island Lakes in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, we added a day for Lassen Volcanic National Park. Because of smoke from wildfires, we decided on a day of short walks and hikes combined with stops at various viewpoints, rather than climbing Lassen Peak.

This was the third part of our Cascades and Sierra Nevada road trip, which I’ve described in three posts:

For this part of the trip, our starting point was the Best Western Rose Quartz Inn ( | in Chester, California, where we had arrived the night before.

Tuesday, 20 July

We woke up in Chester to smoky skies and a layer of ash on the car. The forecast suggested the winds were blowing most of the smoker clear of Lassen, though, so we decided we would still proceed to the park for the day. We did modify our plan to focus on shorter walks rather than climbing Lassen Peak. If the winds changed and blew in smoke, we did not want to be up high.

Before leaving Chester, we bought some pastries and coffee from Koninkrijk Koffiehuis. While we were buying them, I felt like a bit ridiculous about how many we bought for two people. Once we had tasted them, though, I regretted not getting more. I highly recommend a stop if you are in the area.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

We reached the national park just a few minutes before a ranger-led walk would start at the Sulphur Works area of the park. So, we continued just a few minutes up the road to join the walk. The ranger’s discussion of the natural and human history of the park was a great introduction for the rest of our day.

From there, we continued to the Bumpass Hell trail. This 3-mile loop leads to a 16-acre active hydrothermal area, the largest in the park. Along the trail, carpets of purple lupine covered the hillsides. In the hydrothermal area, boardwalks lead past mudpots, noisy steam vents, and bubbling pools.

After Bumpass Hell, we went to Cold Boiling Lake. Here, a 1.6 mile out and back route leads to hydrothermal area where small amounts of bubbles float up through the lake. The park’s guidance indicates this is often a good area for seeing wildlife, but we were there alongside two large groups which would likely have scared anything away.

For our next walk, we selected King’s Creek Fallswhere a 2.3 mile loop leads to a 30′ waterfall. There are fenced overlooks and a use path down to the base of the falls. Along the way, we had views to the ominous smoke plume generated by the Dixie Fire, miles distant. Later that summer, the Dixie Fire would burn through parts of the park. The falls were pretty, and we enjoyed the cascades along the one-way stretch back up from the falls.

On our way out of the park, we stopped at the Devastated Area Interpretative Trailwhich highlights rocks thrown up from the 1915 eruption with good signage explaining it. Our final stop was at Manzanita Lake. The north side of the lake offers great views back across the lake to Lassen Peak. While I knew the area was in drought, I was surprised at how completely bare of snow it was for July.

Redding, California

From Lassen, we drove to Redding, California, After checking into the Hilton Garden Inn ( |, we went out in search of dinner.

Online reviews guided us to Bantam Kitchen & Cooler, where it lived up to the positive reputation. We enjoyed good beers, blackened shrimp and pork verde tacos for taco Tuesday, Carolina Cuban & Cajun fries, and blackened shrimp jambalaya. I’d say the fries and tacos were the standouts.

After, we headed downtown to walk around. We had a nice evening walk, including a stop at Taste & See Creamery. We sampled several flavors (including banana pudding, buttermilk peaches ‘n cream, bourbon brown butter pecan) before deciding on lemon specious cookie & blueberry goat cheesecake for Sean and honey lavender & balsamic roasted strawberry for Kyle. Each flavor really found this niche between being something new yet also familiar.

Wednesday, 21 July

The plan for the day was simple: drive the rest of the way home.  We had a good breakfast at the hotel before setting out. We stopped for views of Mount Shasta, to buy some lower cost alcohol in California and Oregon, and for Kyle to introduce me to Burgerville in Centralia, Washington.

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