Permit - No cost permits are required and can be obtained by emailing ranger or in person at ranger station (even after hours). Plan ahead if you want to receive permit by mail. You will need to pay $25 for 7 day pass into Lassen Volcanic National Park (even after hours into the iron ranger).
Mileage - The map has mileage listed at 5.1 miles using the Summit Lake north Trailhead (we camped up away from the lake so our mileage was slightly more). See map/profiles below.
Camps/Water - Water/bathrooms/trash available at the trailhead. There are lakes along the way for water as well. NO CAMPFIRES in the backcountry are allowed!
Hazards - Bears (You are required to use approved bear canisters), mosquitoes (didn't see any on this trip), weather (always check the weather before hand, it was in the 20's for us at night).
Tyler and I have
been going on lots of adventures with his Boy Scout troop, but this
was the first chance we had to go backpacking. After a long drive (mostly
in the dark) we made it to Lassen Volcanic National Park. We stopped
at the gate (paid the iron ranger the $25 for the 1 week pass) then
stopped at the Visitor Center and self registered for our backcountry
permit the next day. It was great to have a large group of us going.
We camped Friday night at the campground called Summit Lake north. We
planned on hitting the trail early on Saturday to allow enough time
to get to Rainbow Lake and, after setting up camp, hike to Cinder Cone.
The campground was nice with clean restrooms, plenty of bear boxes,
and space for all the tents. Tyler even said the water tasted good.
The trail starts at the lakes edge pass loop 'B" sites. This trail
also leads to Summit Lake south and the amphitheater. Here is Summit
Lake that morning.
Here is another
shot of Summit Lake with what I believe is Hat Mountain in the background.
Before you are
even warmed up you will be at the first junction. We went left toward
Echo Lake. If you look close on the sign below you will see that Rainbow
Lake is not listed yet. Don't worry about it though.
The trail starts
to climb now with some nice views behind. You can see on the profile
that you need to climb up and then give up some of that elevation to
reach Echo Lake. Here is the view behind of Mount Lassen.
The trail is well
marked and well signed. There are some use trails around some of the
lakes but if you use the map, and keep track of the lakes as you pass,
you really should have no navigation issues. Here is an example of the
trail markers in the trees..
Here is a shot looking
back as we descended to Echo Lake. The trail is well used and dusty.
You add a bunch of Scouts to that and you can get some good sized dust
clouds. We didn't see anyone else on the trail that morning prior to
Rainbow Lake, so we didn't have to apologize for our dust.
We made it to Echo
Lake. There is no camping allowed at this lake (likely overuse). It
is a great little lake and would make a great spot to have lunch, or
just catch your breath. We decided to keep moving as we had a full day
on the trail planned..
The trail climbs
some now, but nothing too bad. Here is a shot looking back through the
trees at Echo Lake. Notice the yellow trail marker.
There is some variation
in the trail now but it is mainly downhill to the lake that shall not
be named. Here is a shot of the trail conditions in this section. There
are some rough patches but even our youngest Scouts had no issues..
The trail is level
in spots. You can see how sandy the soil is starting to get. There were
some sections of trail where it felt like you were walking on the beach.
Here is a glimpse
of the lake that shall not be named. It is one of those lakes that looks
like a meadow on the shallow end.
Here is Upper Twin
Lake. You can see that the clouds were blowing away at this point. Well
not all of them, but at least the ones right overhead.
This is the junction
just at the edge of Lower Twin Lake (between Upper and Lower Twin Lake)
that we took a right at to stay on the south side of the lake.
Here is the meeting
of the minds to determine which way to go. We continued left on the
PCT now (only briefly though).
Another shot of
Lower Twin Lake with some cool shadows.
dead trees out in the short section to Rainbow Lake..
After some scouting
around (and some discussion) we decided to break into two groups to
camp. Some closer to the lake and some up above the lake on the trail
toward the Cinder Cone. Rules out here say to camp 100 feet from the
lake's edge. The established sites at the lake are all within this range.
Here is me on the slope as we were looking for better sites The wind
picked up and even a little moisture fell on us.
We quickly setup
camp, filtered water, ate some lunch (maybe not in that order) and then
hit the trail to Cinder Cone.
The trail to Cinder
Cone was extra "sandy", which was cool but seemed to wear
out my feet fast. The closer you got to Cinder Cone the more it was
like loose gravel. Here is Cinder Cone in the distance. You can see
some of our group headed up the route from the south for some perspective.
Part of our group made it to the top and back while the other half made
it around to the north approach and decided there was not enough time
to make it to the top so we headed back to meetup with the other group
as they headed down. I will leave you with a few shots on the way back
and then a couple the next day. We hit the sleeping bags early that
night after filling our bellies and then the bear canisters. Luckily,
we did not have any bear encounters. The weather was cold that night
(most of our water that was out in the open froze slid. The next morning
was cool and most of us started the hike back with gloves or an extra
layer. This was an awesome area to explore and I can't wait to get back
out here and explore some more of the lakes/volcanic features..
The setting sun
behind some beautiful trees.
Rainbow Lake just
before dark (star gazing was amazing out here).
The tent village
the next morning. There was a patio area with cover between the three
Summit Lake, almost
to the car. Scroll down for the map/profile.
is the profile for day one. We camped up off the trail to the Cinder
Cone, so there may be a little extra mileage because of that. Click
on profile for larger version.