Climbing a Volcano: Hiking to the Summit of Lassen Peak

The hike to the top of Lassen Peak is not a strenuous as one might think and you will experience amazing views of Lassen Volcanic National Park and Northern California

Lassen Peak Hike 2012 ~ Google Earth

It’s hard to beat the experience you get when you’re standing at the summit of a significant mountain, especially when it’s an active volcano. The hike to the top of Lassen Peak is not a strenuous as one might think and you will experience amazing views of Lassen Volcanic National Park and NorCal.




This hike is much easier than the hike to Shasta Bally and Mount Shasta. It can be fun hike for the family and can be a great hike at night during a full moon. Check out this video that shows you the full hike:

Start: Lassen Peak parking area

Round Trip Distance: 5 miles

Round Trip Time: 3-5 hours

Terrain: steep 2000 foot elevation gain

Elevation: 8500 feet at trailhead, 10,457 feet at summit

The Trail: The trail to the top of Lassen Peak begins at the peak parking area at an elevation of 8500 feet. The popular trail is 2.5 miles one-way to the summit. There are many fantastic vistas of the park and surrounding areas from the trail (see picture gallery below). The summit provides one of the most spectacular views of the Devastated Area, a view from the top looking down (see picture in gallery below). This view is the best vantage point to contemplate the power of the 1914-17 eruptions. The lingering rotten-egg smell of hydrogen sulfide near the summit reminds visitors that Lassen is still considered an active, but dormant, volcano.


There are many switchbacks and the trail can be steep and rocky at times. Hiking boots are recommended. A round trip takes 3 to 5 hours.

The Lassen Peak trail offers hikers the opportunity to climb to the top of one of the largest plug dome volcanoes in the world. Beginning at the Lassen Peak parking area, the trail climbs through twisted mountain hemlock and whitebark pine trees on sand-like cinders. As the trees begin to thin and vistas of the park come into view, the trail steepens into series of switchbacks along a rocky ridge to the summit. The maintained trail ends at the first summit where exhibits invite hikers to rest and explore the panoramic view.

Safety tips for the summit hike:

  • Bring water and extra food
  • Wear sturdy boots
  • Bring a flashlight or headlamp
  • Use sunscreen
  • Carry extra layers for warmth
  • Take breaks often
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will return
  • Check the weather forecast on-line or at the visitor centers
  • Finish your hike before dark

Are You Ready to Hike? Knee and ankle injuries are the most common visitor injury Watch your footing ‚ÄĘ Consider using trekking poles for balance

Have fun, be safe and stay Active!

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