Lush forests, sparkling lakes, snow capped peaks, quiet camping respites, boiling geysers, active volcanoes, Mount Lassen National Park has it all! Fortunately, Mount Lassen is still relatively less popular than the far more popular Yosemite and Big Sur getaways, so we found it to be a perfect escape for July 4th weekend this year. Just over a four hour from San Francisco, it is completely manageable on a long weekend.
On the shores of Lake Almanor, an attraction in itself, is the small quiet town of Chester, a stop for those hiking the PCT. The town with a population of just over 2,000 has all the essentials – a convenience store, a few restaurants, places to buy firewood and ice but otherwise unremarkable. We pitched our tent at a gorgeous campsite by a gurgling creek called High Bridge campground. A small quiet campground with just 12 sites was the perfect place to unplug and fall asleep to the soothing sounds from the creek.
We left first thing in the morning for a hike by Juniper Lake who’s breathtaking blue waters bookended by Lassen peak was well worth the long hike into the woods still covered in snow (this was early July, guys!). Through the patches of snow that didn’t seem to realize it was already well into summer and dwarfed by rows of tall coniferous trees, we fell in love with our surroundings as we walked deeper into it. In a state where hiking is an overly popular activity, it’s not often you get to be completely isolated during a hike, but here we were, tracing the shores of Juniper Lake with no human in sight. The Juniper Lake campgrounds themselves were closed so there really was no one around! We kept a lookout for bears but fortunately didn’t chance upon any.
After our long and rewarding hike to Juniper Lake, we made a pit stop at our campsite for a quick lunch roasted on a campfire before heading to Drakesbad for q quick peek at the sulfur springs. A drive down a winding gravel road took us to a parking lot from where we had access to the lush, vibrant hills that was the setting for the historic Drakesbad Ranch which has been around since 1900 and is renowned for its hot springs pool. This area was a lot more crowded than our morning ventures but we were enthralled by the violent greenery around us. The sulfur springs themselves weren’t that impressive but I might head over to Bumpass Hell instead.
Get closer to nature at Mount Lassen, Volcanic Park, an easy long weekend trip from San Francisco!