Warner Valley: Lassen Volcanic National Park

Cascade Mountains; Lassen Volcanic National Park; california You can get a view of Lassen Peak from almost anywhere in the park.

You can get a view of Lassen Peak from almost anywhere in the park.

Maybe you heard, maybe you didn’t; the Reach Higher Trail Challenge is in full swing in Lassen Volcanic National Park! Complete at least 3 hikes and get a bandanna! A BANDANNA!!! Boy what we wouldn’t do for a free bandanna!

We are all over the challenges; there are 7:

  1. Climb a volcano.
  2. Hike to a hydrothermal area.
  3. Take an interpretative hike or attend a Ranger Program.
  4. Discover a hidden gem.
  5. Loop around a lake.
  6. Walk about a watershed.
  7. Explore a meadow.

More information can be found on the NPS site.

To kick this off, we packed up the rusty Volvo and headed for Warner Valley Campground ($14/night, water, pit toilet). June 14th was the official kick-off as well as National Trails Day so there was much to celebrate.

Cascade Mountains; Lassen Volcanic National Park; Wildlife; california; squirrel This guy is just too cute!

This guy is just too cute!

Cascade Mountains; Lassen Volcanic National Park; Mount Harkness; california A fire lookout sits atop Mount Harkness.

A fire lookout sits atop Mount Harkness.

Climbing Mt. Harkness – 10-mile loop, moderate

We decided to climb the shield volcano known as Mount Harkness. Most people start by Juniper Lake which offers a 2-mile, 1,000 ft climb but we opted to start from the trailhead on Warner Valley Road.

The trail climbs nearly 3,000 feet over 4 miles to reach the summit. The climb was slow but we were rewarded with some amazing views of the park. A fire lookout stands at the summit but it was not manned when were there.

Cascade Mountains; Lassen Volcanic National Park; california Looking towards Lassen Peak over Juniper Lake.

Looking towards Lassen Peak over Juniper Lake.

After the summit, we headed down to Juniper Lake. The campground seemed deserted despite its lakeside placement. We made a mental note to bring our kayaks there sometime (can you say loop around a lake?).

The trails loops back around descending quickly to the trailhead, finishing the 10 mile hike. We were lucky to have mild weather but on warmer days, the hike might be more pleasant in the morning hours.

Cascade Mountains; Lassen Volcanic National Park; california; cold boiling lake; lake Like a scene out of a fantasy book, the steam rose from the lake.

Like a scene out of a fantasy book, the steam rose from the lake.

Cascade Mountains; Lassen Volcanic National Park; california; devils kitchen; geology; geothermal Steaming mud pots all around us.

Steaming mud pots all around us.

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Boiling Springs Lake, Terminal Geyser, Devils Kitchen – 11 miles, moderate

To complete the hydrothermal area challenge, we hiked out past Boiling Springs Lake to Terminal Geyser (a steam vent, not a true geyser). The day was hot but the hike was mild. From there, we backtracked along the Pacific Crest Trail and then headed to the Devil’s Kitchen. This hot, bubbling area was worth the moderate hike.

Cascade Mountains; Lassen Volcanic National Park; california; devils kitchen; geology; geothermal The Devil must have been boiling water for some tea.

The Devil must have been boiling water for some tea.

Our topo map showed hot springs along the trail to the South of Dream Lake, but we were unable to find any. There was one creek crossing (don’t worry, the water wasn’t acidic) that got our socks wet but it was only a couple miles from the car and the day was hot so we pressed on.

Cascade Mountains; Lassen Volcanic National Park; california A small resort in Warner Valley. Pay for beer on the honor system.

A small resort in Warner Valley. Pay for beer on the honor system.

The meadow near the trailhead is also home to Drakesbad, a small resort. This is mile 1,400 on the Pacific Crest Trail as the restaurant proudly states. They also have a small store which sells Sierra Nevada beer and soda, if you are into that kind of thing.

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Other Hikes in Lassen Volcanic National Park:

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