Brokeoff Mountain and Lassen Peak: Lassen Volcanic NP

Fall has arrived!

With fall comes dramatic weather, cooler temperatures, and rain. What’s a hiker to do? Hit the trails!

So we packed our warmer sleeping bags and rain gear and off we went to Lassen Volcanic National Park…

Lassen Peak – 5 miles, strenuous

Cascade Mountains; Lassen Volcanic National Park; california; lassen peak; national park A rocky protrusion just below the summit of Lassen Peak.

A rocky protrusion just below the summit of Lassen Peak.

The California Conservation Corp and National Park trail crews have been hard at work the past few years reworking the Lassen Peak Trail. Years of misuse have caused erosion that will take decades to heal but thanks to the efforts of the trail crews, the trail is now well defined and graded.

The trail has only been open on special occassions while work is being completed and National Public Lands Day was one of those times. In an attempt to avoid the crowds, we headed up at 5:45 AM and aimed to reach the summit around sunrise.

Cascade Mountains; Lassen Volcanic National Park; california; lassen peak; national park; people On the way down, the visibility was poor. We could barely see the trail ahead of us.

On the way down, the visibility was poor. We could barely see the trail ahead of us.

Turned out this was a great idea. We had the summit to ourselves and had plenty of time for pictures and even though it was mostly cloudy, the sky opened up to give us a breathtaking views of alpen-glow bathed Shasta.

If you plan on heading up this early, it is very important that you are ready for cold, windy weather. Keep moving as you’ll cool down quickly when you stop. Wear layers and take them off as you warm up on the way up as a sweaty body is a good way to get hypothermia. As a luxury, think about leaving a thermos of hot tea, or another beverage in your car for after the hike.

As we headed down, we ran into the trail crews which were slowly starting their workday and got back to a quickly filling parking lot. Had we started a few hours later, we’d be following a line of people up the mountain.

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Kings Falls Trail – 5 miles, moderate

Cascade Mountains; Lassen Volcanic National Park; california; kings falls; national park; waterfall Even though the area is rather dry, the Kings Creek Falls still put on a good show. Maybe all the rain helped a bit.

Even though the area is rather dry, the Kings Creek Falls still put on a good show. Maybe all the rain helped a bit.

Cascade Mountains; Lassen Volcanic National Park; Sharon; california; national park Sharon took a break to identify the surrounding features.

Sharon took a break to identify the surrounding features.

Since we had started so early, we now had plenty of daylight to hike more. While clouds loomed around Lassen Peak, the Kings Falls Trails was mostly sunny. We did a 5-mile loop that took us to lakes and waterfalls. Though the year had been dry, the fall was still impressive, possibly rejuvenated by the recent rains. The hike along Kings Creek was gorgeous, though, unfortunately a section was closed due to dangerous conditions. The equestrian route climbed earlier and provided stunning views into Warner Valley. Elevation on this hike was minimal but there was one tough climb as we headed back to the car.

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Ridge Lakes – 2 miles, moderate

Cascade Mountains; Lassen Volcanic National Park; Ridge Lakes; california; lake; national park A steep, 100o foot over 1 mile, climb leads to what may be the prettiest sight in Lassen Volcanic National Parks. Ridge Lakes are well worth the huffing and puffing.

A steep, 100o foot over 1 mile, climb leads to what may be the prettiest sight in Lassen Volcanic National Parks. Ridge Lakes are well worth the huffing and puffing.

This hike starts at the Sulfur Works Parking Area. While it’s only about a mile from the trailhead to the top of the ridge crest, it is a very steep hike (1,000 feet of elevation gain) and the muddy trail made sections more challenging. Watch your footing!

The burn in your quads and all the huffing and puffing will be rewarded by arguably the prettiest lake scene in the park. The beauty of the calm, shallow lakes reflecting the surrounding ridges was only accentuated by the expressive sky.

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Brokeoff Mountain – 7.4 miles, strenuous

Brokeoff is certainly a tougher hike than Lassen Peak in every sense of the word. The trail is longer, steeper, and with more elevation gain. Why is this mountain often forsaken for its better known neighbor? Likely because it hangs 1,200 feet further from outer space.

Brokeoff; Cascade Mountains; Lassen Volcanic National Park; california; national park Déjà vu! The summit of Brokeoff Mountain was also shrouded in fog.

Déjà vu! The summit of Brokeoff Mountain was also shrouded in fog.

You won’t be doing yourself any favors if you forgo this hike though. The meadows and forest of the first section are tranquil. The second, steeper half affords you great views of the park and into the Northernmost regions of the Sierra Nevada. The peak itself is just as impressive as I was quite stricken with the jagged rocky outcrops veiled by thick mist.

As a benefit, since most visitors flock to the more popular Lassen, you’re more likely to be alone on the hike.

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Other Hikes in Lassen Volcanic National Park:

Visit our National Park Service Guide for more hikes in our national parks.