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Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
Lassen Volcanic National Park is located about fifty miles over gently sloping plains east from Red Bluff on Hwy - 36. The 106,000 acres that make up the pine forests, crystal green lakes and boiling thermal pools of this park are one of the most unearthly parts of Northern California's forbidding climate, which brings up to fifty feet of snowfall each year.
The thirty mile tour of the park from Manzanita Lake in the north should not take more than a few hours. Marking the halfway point, Summit Lake is a busy camping area set around a beautiful icy lake, close to which are the park's most manageable hiking trails. From a parking area to the south, the steep, five mile ascent to Lassen Peak begins. Experienced hikers can do it in four hours, but wilderness seekers should head out east to the trails of the Juniper Lake area.
Lassen's indisputable landmarks are Bumpass Hell and Emerald Lake, the former a steaming valley of active pools and vents which bubble away all around. The trails are sturdy and easy to mange, but you should not venture off them. The crusts over the thermal features are often brittle, and breaking through could plunge you into hot water. Make an effort to stop at Sulphur Works, an acrid cauldron of steam vents. A magnificent trail leads for a mile around the site to Diamond Peak, with great views of the park.
The park service has its headquarters in Mineral, where you can get free maps and information. Another visitor center is at Manzanita Lake, and includes the Loomis Museum, which documents the park's eruptions.