Lassen Volcanic National Park was established on August 9, 1916, and is located northeast of California. The park has geothermal/hydrothermal areas, lava beds, mountain views, and volcanoes.
Although the park is open all year around, the winter months have limited access because of extreme and unpredictable weather. Many of the facilities are only open in the summer so please check the NPS page before you visit.
We did not get to hike the Bumpass Hell Trail to see the famous geothermal/hydrothermal area because it was closed for renovation through December 2018. We were informed that there is an alternative route to the Bumpass Hell Trail geothermal/hydrothermal areal, but that requires some backcountry hike through and with a 4 years old, we were not ready for any surprises mid-way through a long hike.
Overall, this park has kid friendly trails but according to our 4 years old son, it did not have a wow factor.
Lassen Peak Trail
We hiked Lassen Peak, the largest plug dome volcano in the world as well as the southernmost volcano in the Cascade Range. Harvey was able to hike about 1 mile before he got bored and the climb got harder beyond the 1 mile marker.
Cinder Cone was our favorite hike and also our top highlight at Lassen. Harvey really enjoyed climbing up the Cinder Cone and leaving mommy behind in the dust. He learned about the lava and thought they were really neat. This hike can be very difficult if you’re not in good shape or have bad knees since the climb is quite steep and on gravels. Harvey is a climber and loves to climb mountains and stairs so please use your own judgement for your children.
Manzanita Lake has a great photo opportunity when the lake is calm to reflect the mountain above it. Unfortunately, it was very windy during our trip so could not capture the reflection you often see online.
Lastly, the park offers great night photography of the Milky Way and one of the best places to do so in at Chaos Crags. We did not get a chance to do this because we have a little one and hiking there would be challenging when his bedtime is at 8:30pm. :-)
Harvey is loving the hike up
Top of Cinder Cone
Manzanita Lake Campground is a popular place to stay when you’re at Lassen because of the famous Manzanita Lake where you can hike to get a view of Lassen Peak. We stayed here and thought it was very nice but the bathrooms were extremely cold in October and all the facilities like showers, laundry, store and visitor center were closed. We had to drive to the southwest entrance to Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center.
Closest Cities to the Park:
Recommended Length Stay: at least 3 days
You can do the view points in one day but if you want to visit all the highlights we mentioned above, it will take you at least 3 days without rushing it.
Would we be back? Maybe if we had time and was driving through Redding.
For more photos, they can be found here.