Lassen Peak Trail… Summit closed

It was our final day to spend at Lassen National Park. And it was quite windy, and much more smoky as we left our hotel in Chester. Luckily we were still able to escape the smoky air by the time we entered the park. It was fairly clear and the scenery was beautiful.

Beautiful volcanic formations

We had a few options to round out our day: 7 mile round trip trail to Brokeoff Mountain, 2.6 mile round trip trail to viewspot along the trail to Lassen Peak, and/or ~2 mile round trip trail to Cold Boiling Lake. Considering how windy it was, we still tried for the viewspot on the way to the summit.

Trailhead for Lassen Peak summit.

When we arrived, we were greeted by skiers that were descending the mountain. They were “snow junkies” and trying to chase any little bit of snow to hold them off until the winter. They said the hike was still worth it for the view. But they didn’t mention anything about the wind.

Beautiful mountains and trails that disappear into the trees


Gradual climb for this part of the trail as it meanders between meadows filled with flowers and volcanics.
Vulcans Eye and lovely summertime flowers in bloom.


Layers of smoke in the air looked almost fake, as if they were in a painting.
Smoke and ash were continually stirred up. Reading Fire was spreading before our eyes with the strong winds.
Still beautiful despite the smoke.
View towards Brokeoff Mountain and Helen Lake.
This photo explains why the Cinder Cone area was closed off. Smoke galore! Watch out for the ridge, because new smoke forms moments later.
Trail ends here, for now. It’s a 5 year project that began in 2010. The trail to the Summit is being redone after a child died from a rockwall falling on him years ago. But I heard that they do open the trail to the summit a few days while they’re working on it. A ranger said next weekend they were going to try to open it.

At the summit, gusts of wind had to be over 40 MPH. It was definitely the kind of wind that you could lean into. Gorgeous despite the feeling of being blown off the mountain.

Shows you how far we got along the trail before being stopped.
Glacial notch instead.
Gorgeous view of Helen Lake and Brokeoff Mountain.
Evolution of smoke.
Hiking back down the trail
Helen Lake and the parking lot – as you can see my car is the only one in the lot.
Pyro cumulous cloud formed from the fire around Lake Almanor. Ponderosa Fire? Chips Fire? There are so many fires all around Lassen, it’s hard to keep track of which one is which.

Hiking up to the view point and back took about 2.5 hours. We were taking our time and I think the wind really slowed us down. The wind was also exhausting to hike in. It’s also rather unsettling to hear the wind wisp between the trees and knock over some rocks on the hill slope.

After the hike we drove up to where the road was closed (Summit Lake South) and discovered that the Summit Lake area was still closed. We turned around and headed out of the park.

All in all, Lassen Volcanic National Park is gorgeous. It also seems so remote due to the lack of crowds. Even without the fires, I’ve heard that the park never really gets crowded. So consider it a hidden gem amongst the wonderful national parks in California.














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