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  • Baldwin Diep

Chasing Waterfalls at Lassen Volcanic National Park // California

Terrace Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park. (Baldwin Diep/Sweet Life Studios)

Kings Creek Trail

If you know me, you know I always do my research when traveling since I don't want to waste my vacation time on the phone looking up things to do - it's always better to be prepared. The Kings's Creek was at the top of the list since it wasn't too short or too long - about 1.5 miles each way, and there's a waterfall at the end. The trail itself was wonderful. It was through the forest but there was a heavy stream right alongside it most of the way. It definitely made you want to go in.

When we reached the waterfall, there was a viewing deck towards the top and no clear trail down. But there's always a way if you can find it. We found a rocky slope to the bottom, you just have to be careful when sliding down but it wasn't too bad at all. The rocks on the side of the waterfall made a perfect place to eat our lunch.

Bumpass Hell Trail

The hydrothermal area where the ground is so hot that there's a boardwalk. (Baldwin Diep/Sweet Life Studios)

Onto our second hike of the day - the Bumpass Hell Trail. At this point it was the middle of the day and well over 100 degrees. I was struggling to say the least.

This trail was also about 1.5 miles each way and is at a higher elevation so there's more open space. The trail itself is quite nice. You walk by a field of beautiful purple flowers (I don't know the name) and you get some spectacular views of the forest below.

The highlight is definitely the hydrothermal area at the end. You can see the upflow of steam that stems from the magma deep underground heating the underground water as it rises up and eventually creates these beautiful blue pools. But these hot springs aren't for bathing, they're extremely acidic and hot as you can literally see it boiling!

The yellow clay and gray water created from the chemical process. (Baldwin Diep/Sweet Life Studios)

The ground was so hot from these fumaroles (steam and volcanic-gas vents), that you can't even step on the ground here - which is why there's a boardwalk to walk across the area.

The sulfurous acid and sulfuric acid breaks down hard, gray-green andesite lavas into red, yellow and buff clays and iron oxides and ends up in the form of bright-colored clays.

And I can't forget the smell... Just expect some rotten eggs when you're raising your nose. It comes from the sulfur released from the magma at high temperatures. The sulfurous acid and sulfuric acid breaks down hard, gray-green andesite lavas into red, yellow and buff clays and iron oxides and ends up in the form of bright-colored clays.

Lake Helen

Us on a rock saying hi to Lake Helen. (Baldwin Diep/Sweet Life Studios)

Right across from the Bumpass Hell trailhead is Lake Helen. The water is a spectacular emerald blue color, stemming from the minerals produced from the volcanic rocks. It's named after Helen Tanner Brodt who in 1864 became the first white woman to reach the summit of Lassen Peak.

McCloud Falls

McCloud Falls from the viewing deck. (Baldwin Diep/Sweet Life Studios)

About an hour away from Lassen is another amazing piece of nature - McCloud Falls. We decided to come here because we needed a much chiller day and a place to swim. We parked at Middle Falls (there's also Upper and Lower Falls) and I can't say that I was particularly comfortable by the amount of people here, but we definitely picked the right place. You climb down a few flights of trails and reach a huge waterfall filling a large pool of water.

After sidestepping a few fellow travelers, we jumped in and couldn't feel more refreshed. I could only stay in a few minutes though, the water was ice cold as the water drops from Lassen's snowy caps. After our swim we chilled on the rocks for a bit to enjoy being under the beating sun. And then we walked back up to our car and explored other sections along the river. We had nice, peaceful lunch in an isolated section just off the water. It's hard to ask for more than that.

Lake Manzanita

Unfortunately I forgot to bring my camera during our walk around this lake. I think I just wanted to enjoy the moment with my partner.

Lake Manzanita is one of the more popular locations in Lassen. It's known for the campgrounds and water activities it offers. But it was unfortunately closed to activities while we were there - apparently some otters have been a little too perky.

Terrace, Shadow, and Cliff Lake

View of Shadow Lake from the trail. (Baldwin Diep/Sweet Life Studios)

Another extremely rewarding hike is the one that takes you to three different lakes. All within 2 miles! After parking off the side of the road, you slowly descend down into a canyon and the first one, Terrace Lake, is

right there only about 20 minutes into the hike. You can stop here for a chill break by the water or move on to the next one, Shadow Lake, which is probably about another 15 minute hike from there.

Terrace Lake. (Baldwin Diep/Sweet Life Studios)

I think I liked Shadow Lake the most out of the three. The water was extremely clear and had a beautiful blue-green color to it. It was also the largest and had plenty of shoreline to put your feet down. I actually ended up sleeping between two logs here (on the side of the water) for 20 minutes because it was so nice to be between the sun and water.

And finally, after another 15 minutes of hiking, we came upon Cliff Lake. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of this one (I didn't realize I'd be blogging about it until I came back), but it's very similar to the other two. It doesn't have as much shoreline to rest on but we decided to have out lunch here anyway, receded back into the tree line. Amazingly, we never encountered anyone else the whole time we were there.

Another view of Shadow Lake and the log that I slept on. (Baldwin Diep/Sweet Life Studios)

Sulfur Works

You can get real close to these boiling mudpots. (Baldwin Diep/Sweet Life Studios)

Our last visit of the trip was Sulfer Works, which we stopped by on our way out. There's a small parking lot right on the side of the road and you can walk right up to the boiling mudpots. But don't get too close, the smell is downright horrible. Again, imagine rotten eggs.

Final Words

Don't forget to visit the visitors center. A lot of people don't see the benefit of it but we always check it out to learn something new about the park or get some memorable souvenirs.

What I can say about Lassen Volcanic that stood out to me the most was how many different landscapes we experienced. There were wide grassy fields with streams running through them, rich forests, plenty of lakes and waterfalls, hot springs, rock formations, you name it. This national park definitely ended up on my list of places to revisit soon, we'll definitely camp there next time!


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