Our Favorite Lakes in Lassen Volcanic Park
April 18, 2018 by: Sharon Roberts
People come to Lassen Volcanic Park for the volcanoes but they stay for the lakes. There are almost twenty lakes within Lassen Volcanic Park, each one beautiful and unique. There is nothing quite like seeing one of the park’s striking peaks reflected against the crystal clear waters of a lake. Lassen’s lakes are great places to camp, swim, fish, kayak, canoe, or simply sunbathe on the shores. But with so many to choose from, it can be hard to know where to go during your trip. To help, we’ve compiled a list of our 6 favorite lakes within Lassen Volcanic Park.
1. Manzanita Lake
Located near the North entrance to Lassen Volcanic Park, Manzanita Lake is perhaps the most famous lake in the park. Come here for those iconic views of Lassen Peak and Chaos Crags. Manzanita Lake is an especially beautiful spot to hike and camp. The 1.5 mile hiking trail winds gently around the lake through patches of willow trees and pine. Along the way, you’ll encounter many different types of wildlife, including ducks, geese, muskrats, beavers, woodpeckers, and deer. Go at sunset for some truly awe-inspiring views. If you like to fish, Manzanita Lake is also a great place to go to catch rainbow, brown, and brook trout. Kayak rentals are available on Manzanita Lake during the summer months.
2. Summit Lake
Summit Lake is another one of the most popular lakes in the park. Located 12 miles south of Manzanita Lake, iIt is easily accessible from the main park highway in the heart of the park. Despite its popularity, the campground is usually pretty quiet, making it a great place to relax, swim, and enjoy the wildlife. The wetlands surrounding the lake are home to many migrating waterfowl.
3. Butte Lake
Butte Lake is located in the Northeast section of the park at the northern end of Cinder Cone and the Fantastic Lava Beds. The first thing you’ll notice about the lake is its irregular shape. The lake formed when flows from Cinder Cone spread northeast and damned up the area’s creeks. Now, there is an entire lava field underneath the water of Butte Lake. Butte Lake is one of the most beautiful and geologically fascinating lakes in the park.
4. Juniper Lake
Sitting at an elevation of 6,700 feet, Juniper Lake is one of the larger lakes in Lassen Volcanic Park. If you’re in the mood for a long hike, we recommend you try the lovely 6.8 mile Juniper Lake Trail. You can camp at Juniper Lake, and the campground itself is located in a peaceful and secluded wooded area with wonderful views, good fishing, and breathtaking sunsets.
5. Lake Helen
Lake Helen is one of the only pure glacial lakes in the park. It is located around 8,200 feet, so it remains frozen and covered in deep snow for most of the year. If you do get the chance to see the beautiful water in August or September, you will be struck with a striking hue of sapphire blue water. The lake is also one of the deepest in the park, reaching a whopping 110 feet. This lake holds a special place in our heart because it was named after Helen Tanner Brodt, the first woman to reach the summit of Lassen Peak in 1864.
6. Boiling Springs Lake
Boiling Springs Lake is a one of a kind lake located in a hydrothermal area in the SE corner of Lassen Park referred to as Warner Valley. It is a nice loop hike from the trailhead to Boiling Springs Lake. The lake is an unusual sea green color, and the south side of the lake has steam vents. True to its name, Boiling Springs Lake reaches temperatures of up to 125 degrees. The water is very acidic, with a ph of approx. 2.5, so make sure you stay back from the edge. The lake also sustains a purely microbial ecosystem, and a few years ago, scientists discovered a unique viral genome that had not been reported before. If you want to experience something different, this is definitely worth adding to your list of stops in Lassen Park.
There are many reasons to come to Lassen Volcanic Park and the lakes are definitely at the top of our list. Though the park is famous for its volcanoes and geothermal areas, we highly suggest you take the time to explore one or more of the park’s stunning lakes.
Planning a trip to Lassen Volcanic Park? Book a stay at the historic St. Bernard Lodge, located near the park in the charming town of Chester, California.