The final image in the last post was of the 700′ tall Cinder Cone volcano in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Formed in the 1650s, this basalt lava cinder cone was part of two eruptions. The hike to the top starts at over 6000′ of elevation, but we’ve spent most of the past couple of weeks at altitude so we were acclimated pretty well. I wasn’t sure I could make it up that steep trail… but the closer we got to it the more we just had to see what was up there!
Trudging in the soft cinders was challenging, but we would take about 50 steps and then pause for a count of 50. The trail winds around the cone so the views kept changing, offering new rewards for the climb.
You can see how steep the cone’s sides are in the photo above! I wouldn’t have guessed that I could do it, but we both made it to the top and it wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined. The reward for our efforts was well worth it!
We scampered around the inner and outer rims, even hiking part way down into the center…
…marveling at the different colors of the rocks…
…and taking in the sweeping views of the Fantastic Lava Beds and Painted Dunes below.
The Fantastic Lava Beds were formed when basalt lava leaked out of the bottom of the cinder cone as it was erupting. It was overwhelming to grasp its size as we took in the panoramic views from the rim. Here’s what it looks like from ground level, next to tall Jeffery pines at the edge of the forest.
What a stunning landscape, with such stark and sudden transitions!
With names like Brokeoff Mountain, Chaos Crags, Devastated Area, Fantastic Lava Beds and Bumpass Hell – Lassen Volcanic National Park is a true gem of a place, well worth a visit. We enjoyed other hiking trails in the park – the variety of terrain offers something for everyone.
Lassen Volcanic is located in the midst of Lassen National Forest, and we found other notable features worth exploring in the National Forest as well. There just wasn’t enough time to see and do all of it! But we brought our flashlights and were able to investigate the “Subway Cave” that was just off the road between the park entrance and our campground. Subway Cave is a lava tube, formed when the lava at the top cooled as it was exposed to the air, while molten lava continued to flow underneath. The name “subway” is appropriate – it’s as wide and tall as a modern subway tunnel!
The tunnel meanders for about 1/2 mile, and it’s amazing to imagine nature’s forces at work as molten rock oozed along the smooth channels. The tunnel was found when part of the roof collapsed, revealing the secret underneath. As we drove past the area, we saw the terrain in a completely different way – with a better understanding of what we were looking at. We came, we hiked, we explored and we learned – it was a perfect visit.