Bumpass Hell Trail Review
Located within Lassen Volcanic National Park, the three mile hike along the Bumpass Hell trail rewards you with views of spectacular hydrothermal features. The steam vents, hot springs, mudpots, and bubbling water are THE reason to explore this trail. It is one of the most popular in the park with views of rock, alpine fauna, and mountains in the distance.
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Date: September 2022
Distance: 3.3 miles
Start & End: Bumpass Hell Trailhead
Hiking Time: 1hr 58min*
*A quick note on our hiking style – We stop and smell the roses. When I go for a run, speed is a consideration. While hiking, it is not. We take photos, watch the chipmunk in the tree, find geocaches, and simply enjoy the adventure. So, typically a hike can be completed in a shorter time than we log.
The First Mile
The trailhead is located at the parking lot, which sits at an elevation of 8200′. It is a lightly graveled path that is well maintained. There is a bit of an incline throughout the first mile, but nothing extremely steep. Although there are trees along the trail, there is a lot of sun exposure.
The view from Brokeoff Volcano Vista was amazing – even with the wildfire smoke. About a quarter mile past the viewpoint you can start to smell the sulfur coming from the hydrothermal basin.
After walking about a mile from the trailhead, you will reach an overlook with a great view into the hydrothermal basin. It’s an ideal spot to turn around if you don’t have the time to go further.
The Final Stretch
The half mile down into the basin is sketchier than the first mile. It is maintained, but is steeper, slipperier, and quite a few roots are in the path. Hiking sticks aren’t necessary, but would be nice to have in this section.
Bumpass Hell Basin
Once you reach the boardwalk you are in the hydrothermal zone.
Things to spot in the basin:
- Fumaroles, or steam vents – where steam and gas rise to the Earth’s surface and escape through vents. They often have a pungent smell.
- Hot Springs and Murky Pools of Water – heated by steam from deep within the Earth. The murky appearance is caused by sulfuric acid created, in part, by microscopic organisms. The acid breaks down rock lining the pool into small particles creating a murky appearance.
- Mudpots – hot springs that contain a lot of clay and can change with the seasons.
- Bubbling Water – caused by the release of carbon dioxide under water
Continuing past the boardwalk and up a little hill leads you to the East Overlook. It’s also possible to walk a couple more miles and end up at Cold Boiling Lake, Crumbaugh Lake, or the Kings Creek picnic area.
Since this is an out and back trail, to head back to your car you literally turn around and retrace your steps. The initial hike out of the basin is a bit strenuous due to the incline. But once you reach the basin overlook, the remaining trek back to the parking lot is relatively easy.
Optional Items to Bring
- 10 Essentials
- Collapsible Hiking Poles
- Portable Solar Charger
- Sun Protection
Entrance Fee: $30/car click here to see current fee pricing
Trail Map: Link to trail map
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