A Journey Through Lassen Volcanic and Burney Falls

A Journey Through Lassen Volcanic and Burney Falls

Nestled in the heart of Northern California near Mt. Shasta, Lassen Volcanic National Park stands as a testament to the raw, awe-inspiring power of nature. From the geothermal wonders of Bumpass Hell and the serene beauty of Manzanita Lake, this national park offers a diverse range of experiences for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. About an hour from Lassen Volcanic is McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park which is home to the famous Burney Falls which drops at a height of 129 feet. 

Burney Falls is located in the middle of the Cascade Range and Modoc Plateau region with forest and five miles of stream and lake shoreline, including a portion of Lake Britton. Burney Creek originates from the park's underground springs and flows to Lake Britton, getting larger along the way to the majestic falls.
The park's landscape was created by volcanic activity as well as erosion from weather and streams. This volcanic region is covered by black volcanic rock, or basalt. Created over a million years ago, the layered, porous basalt retains rainwater and snow melt, which forms a large underground reservoir.
There are five miles of hiking trails winding through the park's evergreen forests. The Pacific Crest Trail passes through the park as well.

The 1.1 mile Falls Loop will take you by Burney Falls and then will follow the stream before crossing a bridge to head back the other way. This is an easy trail but there is a slight elevation gain on the way back up. Please note dogs are not allowed on any trails at this park. 
You can also swim at Burney Falls, but at a cold 42 degrees Fahrenheit we don't recommend it, and would suggest sunbathing instead!

From there you can drive about an hour south to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Entering into the park you can venture to the peaceful shores of the 1.7 mile loop trail of Manzanita Lake. Framed by the park's iconic peaks, this lake offers a tranquil escape. You can paddle along the glassy waters, marvel at the reflection of Lassen Peak, or simply relax on the lakeshore, taking in the symphony of nature. It's a perfect spot for a picnic, allowing you to savor the beauty of the surroundings.

A must-visit in this park is Bumpass Hell, one of the park's most famous hydrothermal areas all on a 3 mile loop trail. As you walk the boardwalks, you're surrounded by the pungent scent of sulfur, the sight of boiling mud pots, and hissing steam vents. The vibrant colors of mineral-laden pools create an otherworldly landscape, reminding us of the Earth's dynamic and ever-changing nature. Make sure to stay on the trails in this area, as the geothermal features are extremely hot at around 322 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another great place to visit is the Cinder Cone. This 4 mile loop trail is considered strenuous so be prepared, always bring plenty of weather, dress for the weather, and make sure someone is aware of where you plan on hiking. This challenging trail allows visitors to experience the wonder of Cinder Cone Volcano first hand. The sandy trail climbs gently at first, bordered by woodlands on the right and Cinder Cone's lava flow known as the Fantastic Lava Beds on the left. The trail steepens as Cinder Cone comes into view. At 1.2 miles, the trail reaches a fork at the base of Cinder Cone. Look to your left (south) here for the first views of the colorful Painted Dunes. The trail then continues to the top where climbers are rewarded with views in all directions. A separate trail continues down into the crater of Cinder Cone.

Another interesting hike is Devil's Kitchen, the second largest geothermal area in the park. Along with a number of other hikes, the trail begins at the Warner Valley trailhead. Here a loop trail leads hikers through the sense-reviving boiling mudpots, steam vents, and boiling springs. Wander among the crackled yellow and red mounds of the kitchen where steam whirls from fiery cracks in the ground, sounds of plopping, hissing, and belching fill your ears and the smell of "something" cooking lingers in the air.

There are so many trails in this park, we could easily spend multiple days here. In addition to all the things we have mentioned, there are lava tubes you can venture into, plenty of beautiful vistas, lakes, waterfalls, and more. If you are in the area it's definitely worth a stop, especially if you're into geology (which we are)! As always, before visiting any National Park, please visit the respective NPS site to check for closures and to get updates. Please also note, this park is not very dog friendly, as dogs are not allowed on any of the trails.

From the geothermal wonders of Bumpass Hell to the serene ambiance of Manzanita Lake and the sheer majesty of Burney Falls, each location tells a story of Earth's beauty and power. As we marvel at these sights, let us also remember the importance of preserving and cherishing these natural wonders for generations to come. Whether you're an avid explorer or someone seeking solace in nature, these destinations offer an unforgettable experience, reminding us of the vast wonders waiting to be discovered in our own backyard.

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