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California, United States

Lassen Peak, Lassen Volcanic National Park

Tackle highest peak in Lassen Volcanic National Park and stand atop an active volcano.

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 (11 votes, 4 reviews)
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 5.0 miles / 8.0 km
Duration: Half day
Overview: Located four hours north east of San Francisco this Northern California park might be a little out of the way, but it’s a prime destination for seekers of tranquility and those with even just a passing interest in geology.

Mount Lassen is a towering testament to the volcanic origins of this region, and an imposing sight from the trailhead on the shores of Lake Helen. In truth however, hiking the two-and-a-half mile Lassen Peak trail which switchbacks its way gradually up the mountain can feel like a relatively gentle workout to many.

Elevation gain:
• 2,000ft (from 8,450 - 10,462ft)

• The trail up the South face of the mountain is almost entirely without shade. Pack the sunscreen and also bring layered clothing to protect you from the winds at higher altitudes.
• Where possible it's worth tackling Lassen Peak early in the day to beat the crowds and to avoid hiking up during the warmest part of the day.
• Summer through fall is the best time to experience this trail. Snow covers the Lassen landscape for much of the year, closing roads and obscuring trails. See our links below to National Park Service information on road and trail closures.
• Combine this hike with the 3-mile trek to Bumpass Hell for a great day out.

Points of Interest



The trail begins at the foot of the South face of Lassen Peak, just past Lake Helen and attached to a parking area big enough to handle some of the busiest days in the park.

The initial part of the trail carves a straight line directly towards the mountain making it seem like the most direct route ever. But that doesn’t last long and soon you’ll be switch-backing your way up to the summit.

On your way you’ll encounter an occasional shortcut - we encourage you to ignore these in order to preserve the mountain and also since supposed shortcuts like these are often harder than the real trail itself.

Heading Up

Bagging this peak should be a breeze, just so long as you treat the next two and a half miles with some respect and take the two thousand foot elevation gain nice and steady. And of course, you can keep reminding yourself that the journey back down will be so much easier.

You won’t need us to remind you that you’re hiking at elevation up here, so you’ll likely be taking a few breaks on the way up, but that just gives you all the more time to enjoy the incredible views over the park.

Summit (10,462ft)

From an elevation 10,462ft above sea level the views from the peak at are nothing short of spectacular on a clear day, stretching as far as the massive snowcapped Mount Shasta over seventy miles away.

If you're wondering whether the active volcano you're currently standing on top of could explode at any moment then you needn't worry.

And if you are the worrying type, perhaps now's not the time to tell you that with the exception of Mt. St. Helens (1982), Lassen Peak is the most recent of the Cascade Range peaks to erupt (1915-1917).
Pictures in this guide taken by: Trailspotting

Trailspotting content © Stuart Green 2010 including text, images, videos and route detail.
This is a fantastic, highly recommended hike. Beware: despite going in June, there was a lot of snow on the trail. Make sure to wear sturdy, waterproof boots so get good grip on the icy parts and be careful. The entire way up is steep, and doesn't really let up until you reach the top. Once there, the views are great. It was very windy and sunny, so bring layers and sunscreen. We stopped for lunch and spent time enjoying the peak. the way down is scarier, because there are some steep, snowy parts. We just slid down(even though you get wet) and recommend doing this!
Visited on Jun 12, 2015

by beaks14 on Jul 22, 2015
had so much fun there last year

by planetwi36 on Oct 19, 2014
This walk was amazing! Being a holiday weekend, the trail was quite crowded; but overall I had an absolute blast. Lassen Nt'l Park tends to be quite warm (if not hot) in the summer, but at the base it was cool and by the top we had traversed across snowpack and the wind was whipping our hair. I would definitely recommend layers and lots of sunscreen!
Visited on Jul 05, 2013

by agallizioli on Jul 10, 2013
I went here after a 4-day backpacking trip in nearby Trinity Alps and decided to tack on an extra day before driving back to San Francisco. The trail was covered with snow a good part of the way, but it was compacted pretty well.

The hike was tougher than exected, due to the elevation and the fact that we didn't have breakfast because we only prepared for 4 days. the views from the top were amazing! We saw shasta in the distance, and even some people skiing down from the top.

On the way down we glissaded down the side and shaved off an hour or so, and it was SO MUCH FUN!

Would be interesting to hike this again later in the season when there is less snow, and after a good breakfast.

Visited on Jun 20, 2009

by chris on Nov 17, 2011

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