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Lassen National Park road Summit

During a Friday in July I encountered no other bicycles on this great summit ride. On the same day Yosemite was probably so crowded, hiking had to be rationed. Here there was complete freedom from logging trucks, something that I learned to value very highly, after having spent only a few days in the general area. It seemed like everybody was here to enjoy the scenery, weather driving, cycling or hiking, and what a scenery it was !

01.(3500ft,mile00.0)START-END NORTH ALT: Shingletown
02.(5510ft,mile16.7)START-END NORTH: jct FR17 Mineral Rd - Ca44)
03.(5780ft,mile17.8)profile turns right onto Ca89 into Mt Lassen National Monument
04.(5650ft,mile22.7)intermediate low point
05.(6440ft,mile28.2)Hat Lake
06.(6720ft,mile31.0)turnoff to Summit Lake parking
07.(8511ft,mile39.4)TOP: highest point on Lassen Peak Hwy
08.(8100ft,mile41.1)Emerald Lake
09.(6740ft,mile46.6)Lassen Southwest Entrance Station
10.(5780ft,mile51.9)profile turns left onto Ca36
11.(4850ft,mile57.9)START-END SOUTH: turnoff on right to FR31N45 and FR17
12.(1870ft,mile75.2)START-END SOUTH ALT: Ca36 turnoff to Paynes Creek


From North. From Shingletown, a wide road through nondescript forest leads to the Ca89 turnoff into Lassen Volcanic National Park. Right after entering the park the road passes Lake Manzanita. Being here for the first time, this looked liked the beginning of a great climb, so I hurried past this spot. This was a mistake, because this is actually one of the scenically most charming places, that is right next to the road.

Yes - there was a great climb ahead, but I still had to wait a while and suffer in the cloudless summer heat, just to get to the start. Actually the road descends more than 500ft from Lake Manzanita. This makes the section of road up to point 4, a summit by itself. This section of road around point 4 passes a few distant views of Lassen Peak. In the foreground is the socalled "devastated area".

Rolling along ever so gently, in between large trees, campgrounds and the occasional parking lot, the road takes its time till it presents a far view to the traveller. Finally Lake Almanor comes into sight in the distance, surrounded by aunthill shapes in the haze. Fortunately the real estate development complex on Peninsula Village cannot be discerned. The road passes a single great view of Lassen Peak. In the foreground is a swampy meadow. Then the final assault on the summit starts. This last part was quite a workout for me in all that heat. On July 19th there were still a few lonely snowdrifts left up here, even after weeks of record heat and forest fires all around.



top: short foot trail to the top of Lassen Peak can be seen on the right side; seen from top of road summit
left top: Lake Helen
left bottom: Lake Almanor, barely visible in the haze from the last curve to the summit


From South. (described downwards). There is a huge parking lot shortly after the road summit. This is also the start of a relatively short foot trail, to climb the remaining ~1500ft to the summit of the mountain with the same name. During my visit the trail was closed far below the summit of the peak, threatening prosecution if you climb the peak anyway on this route or any other route. There was no indication of this closure available at the trailhead. Luckily the trail is short, and there is not that much time to get really pissed off at this.

All in all - I think the road on this side is quite a bit more interesting. The road threads between two high mountain lakes, Lake Helen and Emerald Lake, and then passes an area called Bumpass Hell. Here outcrops of magma ridges mark the outline of a higher ancestral volcano. Sections of road, making almost complete circles, can be seen looping down the mountain side in an attempt to loose elevation without being very steep - in the background: colorful lava rocks. Lassen Peak keeps showing up in views when turning around, apparently making up for its scarceness in views on the other approach. The road also passes a boiling mud caldron, not more than 3ft next to the road, but properly fenced off, so you don't burn your fingers while riding by. - So that's where that smell of sulfur comes from, that I had noticed for the last several miles. Past the park entrance station a quick descent traverses though forest to Morgan Summit. The profile goes right onto Ca36 and continues to the intersection with FR17




( < Brockway Summit | Snowmans Hill s(u) > )
Lassen National Park road Summit , FR17 Lassen National Forest s(u) , FR17-2 s(u) , Ca89 Lassen National Park-2 s(u) , additional out and back:
jct Ca36 - 29N22 <> out and back several miles on 30N16 east >> 30N16 west > Ca36 west > Mineral > up FR17 > FR17 Lassen National Fores s(u) > FR17-2 s(u) > northern entrance to Lassen National Park > Ca89 Lassen National Park-2 s(u) > Lassen National Park road Summit > back to starting point: 72.0miles with 6190ft of climbing in 6:25hrs (m5:13.7.19).
Notes: This loop was planned to be shorter, and would have been if I would have continued on the first out and back on 30N16 east. But I thought this was the wrong way and descended all the way into the valley on the south side. Oh well, I think it was a better route this way anyway, but again much too hot.