Lassen Peak Trail

The must-do hike to the summit of the park's namesake mountain.

Hiking Difficult

Distance
7.5 km
Ascent
611 m
Descent
611 m
Duration
2-3 hrs
Low Point
2.6 km
High Point
3.2 km
Gradient
11˚
VIEW ON MAP
Lassen Peak Trail Map

Description

Lassen Peak is California’s most recently active volcano, with a series of eruptions in 1914-17. Hiking to the top of this young mountain, you can see scars that it gouged on the landscape, plus new rock created in the blasts. You may even detect the rotten-egg smell of sulfur exuding from within the mountain. The volcano is still considered active, but no eruption is imminent.

There’s a well-defined and maintained trail all the way to the top, but it’s quite steep with seemingly relentless switchbacks. There may appear to be shortcuts, but you should avoid the temptation to venture off trail. Doing so damages the plants and thin soil that are slowly reclaiming the slopes. At this elevation, snow can linger well into summer, so slipping may be a hazard on the steep slopes. You may need trekking poles and shoe traction to safely complete the trail, depending on conditions.

Every step is worth it for the expansive views. As you move up the mountain, the trees become sparser and more diminutive. Eventually, it’s only hardy spruce shrubs that persist. Even those are soon left behind as you climb into the highest and coldest elevations. The top of the mountain is a barren moonscape of exploded rock, granting unobstructed views in all directions.

The switchbacks finally let up, and the trail meets a flat spot at the crest of the mountain. There you’ll have a chance to rest, and you can read up on geology and landmarks at a cluster of signs. It’s not the top, but the summit is within sight. Even though the remaining distance is short, it might feel tough at this altitude of more than 10,000 feet. Once on top, you’ll stand on a fin of jagged rock, overlooking the cone of the volcano and the so-called Devastated Area, which was leveled by the last eruption. It’s an excellent vantage over all of Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Source: https://www.nps.gov/lavo/planyourvisit/hikinglassenpeak.htm

Difficulty

Difficult

Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.

Remoteness

1 out of 4

Close to help in case of emergency.

Best time to visit

June, July, August, September, October

Features

  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Wild flowers
  • Family friendly

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area