Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Lassen Volcanic National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Daring hike up the cone! The temperature difference is pretty crazy.

hiking
2 months ago

Really cool trail to hike. It was so amazing to see the Cinder Cone. It’s steep, but short. There were kids doing it, so definitely family friendly. It a pain to get to, there not a lot to see around Butte Lake, so unless you camp at Butte Lake (which I did) you would have to drive an extra 40+ minutes to the trailhead from the main part of the park (Manzanita area).

Probably the most unique hike I’ve done! I’d call it a moderate hike, first part is easy it’s like walking on sand (annoying but easy) then hiking up the cone is the killer part. It’s only a half mile up, but your legs are going to burn. The painted dunes are what I was looking forward to the most, and they exceeded my expectation. Very unique and beautiful! Also I’d recommend hiking down in the the back trail of the cone, you get great views of MT Lassen, Brokeoff, and you get to walk in the lava flow and dunes a bit.

The hike was amazing. Will confirm what all others have said, first part is easy to moderate, it's just like walking in sand at the beach. It's annoying and works your calfs but it's not the worst thing in the world. Plus you get to walk parallel to the lava beds and it's kinda cool. So much rubble and then it just stops. Kinda cool to think about how it happened back then.

And then you see it. The cone. And the steep incline. And you wonder if you can make it. Here are the only two things I would say a) it looks a lot worse than it is especially if you notice how tiny the people are as they are walking up and b) please take sticks. My husband made me a stick from a dead tree close to the bottom and I don't know how I would have made it without. Everyone tells you how it's one step forward and two steps back but with a stick it rarely happens. And then, seriously. Don't let anyone rush you. The path is wide enough people can pass you. Take your time. Let your quad muscles relax again before you keep going. Slow and steady wins the race as the say.

The good news is that it only goes around the side once. So what you see is pretty much it. There's a last bend that you don't see from way down but really that's it's.

Then enjoy the top. Use the inner trails if you don't like heights but want to see some views.

But my biggest lesson (and maybe it's just my perspective). THE INITIAL SLOPE UP IS WAAAAAY EASIER THAN THE BACK ONE. Just in case there's confusion: the darker one is what I can the initial slope. It's the first one you see when you come from butte campground/Lake. That is way easier up and mainly wider. Less stones so less sliding. The back one, meaning the one on the side of the painted dunes, is half the width. We walked down it and it was horrible. Plus when you're done, the "flatter" hike is twice as long as if you take the main slope.

Lots of detail here as hopefully it's useful for those of you, who, like me, feel like they need to read up a lot on things before venturing.

Bottom line, as with all things that seem difficult, you'll be so proud once you've done it. You hiked up a freakin' volcano for goodness sakes!!!!

hiking
4 months ago

I was staying Manzanita campground and to get to this part of the park you have to drive out the park and come back in to Butte Lake. The road to the trailhead is 6 mile unpaved road - passable by most cars. On this trail, the cinder/sand made difficult to walk and climb. This was a strange looking mountain. Very few trees were glowing on the slope. The view of painted dunes and lava beds down below from the top was spectacular. You can go down inside the cone if you still have energy to come back up. We did this and felt like we were in a gigantic bowl. We came down on the side where painted dune was and we were glad this was descend - very steep! When we were walking back to the car, we encountered a bear not a mile away from the trailhead. We walked away from the bear as far as we can go, checking on the bear who was looking at us a while but walked away after few minutes. This was definitely a memorable one in different ways.

The trail is MUCH harder than it seems. Its combination deep sand (cinder and ash) and incline. Its deceiving to be sure, but so so worth it. The hike goes along the Fantasic Lava Beds (yes, their real name) and are worth exploring to see if you can find volcanic glass. Keep going until you're at the base of the cinder cone (ansolutely awesome--seriously, I was awe-struck). I hung around the base for a while, snapping pics of two people making it up the path to the top. I'd recommended summiting in early, early morning if youre gonna do it cause that climb is relentless torture. So so so worth the drive, the hike, and the aching quads!

Did this as a 3 day 2 night backpacking trek. Beautiful area with very diverse ecosystems. Even on a holiday weekend it wasn't crowded at all. The twin lakes were a bit more populated though. The ~8 miles from snag lake to cindercone to rainbow lake is largely loose sand, which is a huge bummer for hiking in general, but in particular with a back country pack. Also pretty exposed for that stretch. The rest of the trail has good shade. Saw a juvenile black bear, maybe 200 lbs about 3 miles from snag lake. It saw us and was not interested, which is great. Overall, definitely worth doing, it is a wonderful park.

just did this as a great 3 day backpacking trip! beware the assent to rainbow lake from the cinder cone is super hot this time of year with very little shade. we wished we'd gotten more water at snag.

The view is worth the climb! Did this hike Labor Day 2018 with two 11 year olds and two 7 year olds.

hiking
4 months ago

Did the hike anti-clockwise as I did not plan to do this trail when I set off but decided to try it instead of doing an out and back hike to Lower Twin Lake. Found the burnt areas around Cluster lake quite eerie and didn't really enjoy that section of the hike. A little bit of ascent but overall pretty steady going.

The return trip is a doozy with much of the elevation gain in that portion. (Especially in the switchbacks coming up from the campground.) But the views are outstanding and you get to see several different natural habitats of rocky cliffs up high, highland grasses and fields, wooded hillsides, geothermal springs, and low lying marshes in the valley.

backpacking
5 months ago

This was a great first backpacking trip to take my friends on! There were great campsites to backpack out to on the beach of Snag Lake. The hardest part for us was the Cinder cone itself at the beginning, as it was steep and very gravelly. For those having trouble, you can go around instead. Most of the trail is pretty well covered, but the forest is not very dense. There is also a really cool marsh area at the southern end that my friends and I enjoyed getting lost in. Highly recommended for novice backpackers!

backpacking
5 months ago

this is a really easy day hike, but my friend and I went backpacking and spent the night near one of the lakes.
It was great that we decided to do this loop clockwise, so we hardly had any uphill climbs except for the first mile or so. after the first lake though, there's hardly any shade for the next 3-4 miles because of the fires a few years ago. it was still cool and breezy, even though the sun was beating down on us hard.
lower twin lakes was my favorite view, but we decided go a bit further and camped at upper twin lakes. we had to look for a bit to find a flat enough area to pitch the tent at, but it was good. we also heard a bear stomping around our tent at night, but he didn't bother us at all. apparently, it's very common there, especially at the upper twin lakes. so, as long as you're prepared, it's all good.
all
it was my friend's first ever backpacking trip and she slayed it. it was a great experience. highly recommended for beginners

backpacking
5 months ago

Excellent trail. We did it clockwise. The first 5-6 miles are very desolate from forest fire years ago. After Feather Lake forest is plentiful. We ended up pushing to Upper Twin Lake to camp on the East side where is was relatively flat. Lakes are shallow and great to swim in. Moderate ups and downs. Many deer but not much else for wildlife although we heard of bears a few miles away.
Moderate elevation at 6500-7000ft most of the time. Easy to get to trail head at summit lake. About 1 hour east of Redding.

I thoroughly enjoyed this hike and highly recommend it. Its a first for me going to this park and am very glad I gave it a shot.

Some notes:

1) Bring a bathing suit and water shoes if you can! The lakes are very nice to swim in in the summer and are not nearly as cold as you'd think they are.

2) There is no cell reception within 45 minutes of the park, so make sure you download everything you need to and have a solar charger or battery backup with you.

3) The sand is a real downer but its not the whole way, less than half. Just make sure you are prepared for sun for the sections that are fully exposed. Even in full sun, the breeze makes it very tolerable.

It has been 20 years since I last hiked this loop and it was just as beautiful as I remembered. The northern part of the loop is a bit crispy from the fires but still gorgeous in its own way.

My wife and are Day hikers, we are in our fifties and this hike was perfect for us, went clockwise around the loop,I found the burnt area kinda interesting, had a different vibe, met some cool people from London on the short span of the PCT that we were on, we are locals so next time we will spend a night or two at one of the killer lakes that are here, I feel it's the best trail in the park.

To save on driving I started the walk from Summit Lake and set off clockwise at ~6AM. I'm in reasonable walking shape and hoped to finish in around 8h-8h30 but this took me about 9h15 so do not underestimate it.

This is an outstanding walk that covers a huge variety of different terrain in a very compact walk. Each of the lakes are stunning, particularly in the early morning light and the walk up Cinder Cone is fortunately not too strenuous if you take it slow and steady.

Doing this as a day hike I found the section from Snag Lake to Rainbow Lake to be particularly punishing, in part because it was the middle of the day with some strong sun. If you're also interested in doing this as a day hike and think you won't fully seize up, it may very well be worth taking a long break at Snag Lake to allow the midday sun to pass.

Strongly recommended, the only downside is all the damn sand.

So , awesome views good experience and a great workout. Downsides is it’s far from the main areas of the park also very far down a dirt road which is tough on your car. Very exposed not a lot of shade. No bathrooms nearby they were all closed. This was last year end of July 2017. Cinder means one step forward two steps back but on the bright side it is only .5 miles up the Cinder cone. The views from the top are magnificent though 360 views. This is a definitely a must at least once in your life. How many people can say they’ve climbed a volcano! It was great to have that feeling of accomplishment at the end of it all.

on Echo Lake Trail

hiking
5 months ago

Nice hike and amazing lake. It was definitely worth it to jump in.

Glad to have hiked a volcano, however, loose gravel the whole way up and sand path on the way to and from the volcano. Good calf workout but not the most enjoyable hike we did in the park!

hiking
6 months ago

Amazing!

The hike from the bottom of the cone to the top is a little hard because of the gravel. Took me 30 mins to hike up and less than 10 mins down. The experience of walking inside a volcano was exhilarating. Bring lots of water since there is no shade along the hike.

backpacking
6 months ago

A friend and I completed the loop last week 6/21-6/23. We started out clockwise on the trail. Best idea as the elevation decreases about 1.5 Miles into the hike. We initially planned on staying at Silver Lake but chose to move on to Lower Twin Lake. Most of the way was devastated due to the 2016 Redding fires. There wasn’t any shade and so many downed trees in that area. Once you get a mile or so from LTL, the scenery starts to pick back up. This was about 7.32 Miles according to my gps tracker. We hiked over on Friday to rainbow lake and chose not to continue on to Snag lake due to once again the area was burned out. Saturday morning we had a bear in our camp rummaging through our packs (yes we did have a bear can and all things smelly away from camp). It got an ice pack and tore that apart. We hollered at it and it did leave camp. Exciting but scary too. The remainder of the hike out on Saturday was approximately 5 Miles, again according to my gps tracker. It’s a beautiful hike with two sections (about 3/4 of a mile each) that are uphill. It was my friends first time packing in and she did great. Our packs were approximately 35lbs each. I love this area and will surly be back again. Also make sure to bring bug spray and the mosquitoes were bad at times. The water wasn’t bad either once the sun hit it daily. Leeches in there so be careful.

hiking
6 months ago

I did this hike this weekend with my mom, sister (age 11) and son (age 4). I would say the first part of the trail is easy/moderate (due to the terrain) and then climbing up to the peak is hard. It was pretty at the top even with the smoke but I would not do this hike again and did not actually enjoy it (and I hike A LOT). Mainly because of the terrain you have to walk on. When you are headed up, you take a step forward just to slide back. With all that being said though we made it to the top and into the crater. It is nice (and a cool experience) when you get up there and I am happy we did it since we were there but wouldn’t do again.

A great hike. Most hikes are into a lake or destination and back on the same trail. This being a loop with many lakes kept you going wanting to see the next lake. We did the hike clockwise through the burn first, this kept out of the afternoon sun. Recommend hike

on Echo Lake Trail

7 months ago

Superbly maintained, clearly marked, easy trail with excellent footing and a gin- clear high mountain lake at the end. We (both retired & one Medicare eligible for many years) arrived there in less than an hour of walking, despite taking numerous photos of Mt Lassen along the way. Water is chilly but swimmable, as we chatted with two young women who were enjoying the activity on an otherwise hot day.

one my all time favorite hikes.. top 5 easy ... start early take your time , pack lunch , snacks plenty water ... I recommend starting out on the cinder cone trail , hike the cone first gives u a great view of your hike to come , and gets the blood pumping lol .. rest is for most part easy miles , rolls along the volcanic edge then , around snag lake , great lunch spot , and swim .. then u leave snag and trail climbs some small hills of awesome pine forests , likely see or hear bear , I always do .. then u slowly drop dwn to butte lake , where the trail again lazily follows the waters edge , by time your feeling the miles your rounding the head of butte lake and u knw your almost back ... great mix of beauty , scenery , wildlife and that happy tired feeling after a long day .. well enjoyed

wow done all these trails but not linked .. sounds like a fun trip .. so many trails and beauty to enjoy here ... one the best parks in north America

great area for some long day hikes or easy backpack trips ... lassen park is a gem , some my favorite area of Cali , so diverse and unique ..

Load More