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


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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: