Three exquisite alpine lakes, linked by a path through sunny and colorful woodland.


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These lakes are three cerulean gems in the mountainous heart of the national park.

Some say they are the most scenic alpine lakes in Lassen.

You can see the first two in a very short hike, and go a bit farther to see the third and prettiest of them all. The trail begins from a roadside pullout on the Lassen Peak Highway, and immediately descends through open woodland.

On this north-facing slope, you may walk through patches of snow in early summer, or quite a bit of snow in the spring. First comes Terrace Lake, which is neatly cradled between rocky hillsides and has one grassy clearing beside it.

From there, the trail meanders over a low rise and leads down to Shadow Lake.

This one is larger, with a pebbly beach and shallow gradient that's good for wading if the sun is warm. Continuing on, the trail trends farther downhill and passes through larger meadows, colored with flowers in early summer.

At cliff lake, you'll find sparkling water with a tree island in the middle, against a backdrop of green and gray on the flank of Reading Peak.

This is a coveted spot for photographers, and is also a great place for a picnic or to watch for wildlife.

When you are ready, turn around and retrace the path, which is almost all uphill back to the road. Sources: