The Bumpass Hell Trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park is probably the most popular trail in the park with its thermal features and nice boardwalk. It was our second hike of the day - you can check out our Kings Creek Falls Hike on a separate post. If you have a limited time in Lassen, these two hikes will make for a great day.
Well, here is the second hike from our afternoon at Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Besides the visitors centers, the Bumpass Hell trailhead has the largest parking area in the park. It's one of the most popular hikes.
The hike starts out with a nice view of Helen Lake and Lassen Peak.
Then it is a gentle climb for the next mile or so. Along the way, we found this ground squirrel gathering nesting material.
It didn't seem to mind us at all as it was inches from the trail. Remember what we've learned in the past? Ground squirrels don't have eye stripes, Chipmunks do.
We kept moving on up the trail. There were signs that said "Trail Hazardous, Travel Not Recommended". There were numerous places where there was still snow on the trail (yes, even in July) and we had to watch our footing to keep from slipping.
Here is one of the many great views along the trail.
Near that spot we started hearing the loud "kaaaacks" of the Clark's Nutcracker, a very pretty jay-like bird found in the mountains of the west. We were able to get a glimpse of three of them, but were unable to get a photo.
We eventually got to the top of the climb where we could look down on the 16-acre geothermal area called Bumpass Hell.
It's the largest of many geothermal areas in the park. We started our descent.
The trail down was covered in a slushy snow more often and we had to be very careful.
With all the steam vents (called fumaroles) pushing the steam out of the earth, the sound was quite like the sound of an airplane's engine as it approaches the gate.
The long boardwalk helped us safely pass among the geothermal features.
The boiling pools and hot springs and fumaroles are clear evidence of the underlying volcanic activity.
This particular boiling pool is covered with what looks like a scum.
It's actually floating pyrite (Fool's Gold).
Just past the pyrite pools, grasses, some algae, and red bog laurel started to appear creating a terrific color contrast.
At the end of the boardwalk is this lovely, clear, turquoise-colored pond.
It's sort of a serene end to the boardwalk after the barren, violent surroundings along the way to that point.
We made our way back along the boardwalk and up the hill to where the trail slowly descends back to the parking lot. Just as we began, we took a picture of Helen Lake and Lassen Peak as the lighting had changed slightly.
We can see why Bumpass Hell is a highlight at Lassen.
Of course it's not Yellowstone, but Lassen Volcanic National Park is sort of a hidden jewel with low visitor rates and lots of variety. It's well worth a visit if you are in the area.