Lava Beds National Monument has a lot of caves but it also has some above-ground hiking trails that make a nice counter-point to time spent crawling around in the dark. Starting from the Merrill Ice Cave parking lot, the trail to Whitney Butte is basically an easy hike through open country,
with good views of Mount Shasta to the west,
past Whitney Butte – we were dissuaded from climbing it due to an unfortunate juxtaposition of shorts, long grass, and rattlesnakes (a hike up it might have been easy and fun, given colder weather and longer pants) –
to the face of the Black Lava flow.
The face of the flow is around 30-50 feet high and speaks to the bulldozing power of large masses of molten rock in motion. We tried climbing up on it but that was like balancing on large razor blades – not AT ALL forgiving if you miss a foot or hand-hold and slip. A short hike (6 miles round-trip; little elevation gain) but a nice balance for a day otherwise spent underground.
After enduring 3+ weeks of wildfire smoke in the Rogue Valley, we needed to find someplace where we could hike under blue sky even for just a short time. After consulting various meteorological prognosticators, it seemed that Northern California’s South Warner Wilderness / USFS (which has been languishing on our to do list) might be just such a place. So we drove to Alturas, California and checked in to a hotel amongst a throng of people of their way to this year’s Burning Man in the Nevada desert just to the south. Arrayed as we were in grubby hiking clothes, we fit right in.
Mount Eddy is the 9,025-foot peak immediately west of Mount Shasta and the Deadfall Lakes are in the basin just to the west of the peak. A hike to the summit offers views, lakes, and, because it’s all at 6,800 feet or above, pleasant air temperatures even when those in the valley are flaming hot. And the trailhead is just 13 miles west of Interstate-5 via good, but twisty, paved roads. Our last hike of Mount Eddy was back in 2009, so a return visit seemed due. This time, however, we started at the Parks Creek Trailhead (rather than the Deadfall Creek Trailhead further west on Forest Road 17) and took the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to the lakes – it’s a better trail and we saved 600 feet of elevation gain (which is good now that we’re 7 years older).
We do occasional hiking and backpacking trips with our California friends Wayne and Diane and this year we decided to spend some time with them in Lassen Volcanic National Park – seemingly one of America’s lesser appreciated national parks. Our previous trips had focused on climbing Lassen Peak but this time we also made an effort to see a bit more of the park, in addition to climbing the peak. Today we hiked to a feature in the northeast corner of the Park who’s name – Fantastic Lava Beds – just called out to us. Who would not want to hike to see fantastic lava beds? Not just Big Lava Beds but fantastic ones? Makes your blood boil! So off we went…
We do occasional hiking and backpacking trips with our California friends Wayne and Diane and this year we decided to spend some time with them in Lassen Volcanic National Park – seemingly one of America’s lesser appreciated national parks. Our previous trips had focused on climbing Lassen Peak but this time we also made an effort to see a bit more of the park, in addition to climbing the peak. Today we set out for the Summit Lakes Loop, starting from Summit Lake on Highway 89. This is also called the Cluster Lakes Loop and appears as such in Lautner’s (2010) Day & Section Hikes~Pacific Crest Trail~Northern California hiking guide (Hike #23).