Well, I am a bit of a light weight when it comes to hitting the trails. One of my goals is to get into better physical condition so that I can take on tougher terrain, but for now the easy and moderate level is my comfort zone.
Here is the list of hikes we chose from.
The name Bumpass Hell sounded intimidating, but in fact was listed as a moderate level, 3 mile hike (round trip) with around 300 feet of elevation change. It was at a higher elevation than I was used to ranging from 8100 to 8400 feet. So bright and early, after passing a surprisingly restful evening in our stripped down cabin, we headed out.
The trailhead is located in between Lake Helen and Emerald Lake, near Lassen Peak summit. Described thusly:
“Rocky trail with grand vistas descends to a boardwalk through Lassen’s largest hydrothermal area”.
According to the National Park literature, “Bumpass Hell occupies the old eroded vent of a dormant dome volcano – Bumpass Mountain. More than 75 fumaroles, hot springs and mud pots compose this 16-acre hydrothermal area”.
“All four types of volcanoes found in the entire world are represented in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Volcanoes found in the park include shield (Prospect Peak), plug dome (Lassen Peak), Cinder Cone (Cinder Cone), and Composite (Brokeoff Volcano) volcanoes.”
There are restrooms conveniently placed in the parking lot, but make sure you bring plenty of water with you as there is not any where to purchase it at the trailhead.
The trail itself was well maintained and relatively easy to navigate with a few stones to carefully step on, or around. We shared the way with families with young children, healthy young adults and active senior citizens. This is a trail that most could handle without assistance. Anyone with a fear of heights however might get a little nervous when confronted with sharp drop-offs along the way.
As the path continued, beautiful vistas opened up.
The sulphur smell warns we are getting close and then finally our first glimpse of Bumpass Hell!
Named after Kendall Vanhook Bumpass who in the early 1800’s while leading a group to see this wonder, famously broke through the fragile ground severely burning and later loosing his leg.
Being warned by both park rangers and posted signs to stay on the path or boardwalks, we took note of the rising steam. Temperatures in the pools vary from 150F (66C) to 200F (93C).
Big Boiler is the hottest fumarole within a non-erupting volcano in the world. The steam temperature has been measured as high as 322F (161C)
Hardly worth mentioning when compared to lava flowing at 2000F (1093C) or the earth’s core at 12,000F (6648C)!
The color palette is amazing. From the gold, yellow, red, orange, rust and white soil/rocks to the milky blue, green and turquoise water. Mix in the steam clouds, odors, bubbling pots of liquid earth and it is otherworldly.
Here are a few more pictures from the hike. I hope you enjoy them. Just click on them for a full size version.
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Next stop – Mono Lake
Please let me know which National Park is your favorite in the comments section below. We are looking for suggestions for future road trips.