May 29 pm – May 31 am
We decided to go to Lassen Volcanic National Park next. We generally prefer taking back roads and so we took Highway 89. The road passes through some really beautiful pasturelands.
The terrain became more mountainous with rivers as you get further north. We stopped at a small rest area with a marker to show where the Beckwourth Trail – Greenhorn Creek Canyon part of the California Pioneer Trail.
Highway 89 runs right through Lassen, but it usually doesn’t open completely until a little later in the season. This year, because of all the snow, a number of different sights on the southern part of the park weren’t open either. But the northern part of the park was open.
We needed to stop for supplies, which meant driving into Susanvillle. A detour, but not much of one. We needed to resupply after a week staying with friends.
Susanville seems like a town where lots of people come to resupply. We were able to get all the things we needed.
The drive into Lassen is really amazing. The volcanic nature of this whole area is very evident.
We pulled into Lassen via the northern entrance. We passed by an unmanned booth. We stopped at the museum/visitor center, but at this time of year it is only open on weekends. That wasn’t particularly helpful.
The only campground open in the park was at Manzanita Lake. The campground was much more friendly. It was obviously open and in use.
We drove around the loops and found a nice spot near the middle.
After reading over the information that we had, we decided to do the Chaos Crags/Crags Lake hike. The description read “Climbs gently through forest before opening to the thinly forested edge of Chaos Jumbles. The trail continues down a steep path to the lake which is often dry in the summer.”
As usual, the description didn’t really describe the experience. It was about a quarter mile from our campsite, so we walked to the trailhead. We had been warned that the trail had not been cleared since the winter and that there were still snowy patches.
The hike started off with trees down over the trail.
The hike climbed through coniferous forest requiring the occasional detour for downed trees.
We passed through a section where there had been a forest fire.
The sky was really ominous at one point.
There were a few snowy patches to cross.
The trail continued to climb and the trees thinned out.
Then we were at the top of the trail with a view of Chaos Crags.
And looking down on a beautiful turquoise lake.
We stopped for a break sitting by the lake. It was amazing.
And since we heard other people coming, we started our return via Chaos Jumbles, the slope full of loose rock.
It was a reminder that this was from very recent volcanic activity.
On our way back down, we came across the crew clearing the trail. They had made some real progress and were pretty far along the trail.
We were informed that the park had restrictions regarding use of chainsaws. So they were cutting through the trunks with a huge two-person saw.
We were very impressed.
Once we reached the bottom, we decided to continue our hike by going around Manzanita Lake.
The views of the mountains across the lake were stunning.
I had put my big camera away, so of course, that is when we starting to see amazing wildlife.
First, a white-headed woodpecker, which I didn’t get a photo of before it flew off.
A beautiful male Scarlet Tanager had just finished bathing and sat preening and straightening his feathers while we watched. I did get a photo of him.
We saw a black-tailed jackrabbit on the trail in front of us. No photo of that either.
Then we watched a Stellar Jay drink from the lake.
It would have been fantastic to just sit and watch the birds, but we were tired and hungry. We stopped at the little store next to the campground for some ice cream. It was the perfect end after an incredible hike.
The next morning, we were heading further north.