When you reach the end of the Bumpass Hell trail at Lassen Volcanic National Park (just a short walk after you get a glimpse of the hydrothermal activity at Bumpass Hell), you reach the Bumpass Hell boardwalk. Just to the right of the boardwalk, you’ll also see Bumpass Hell creek where all the water that is part of the hydrothermal activity drains out of Bumpass Hell:
The Bumpass Pass boardwalk allows you to get a much better view of all the different types of hydrothermal activity taking place and it has a nice variety of information signs to explain exactly what hydrothermal activities are going on:
Molten rock — magma — lies miles below your feet. The magma that is chambered there is the same that fed the eruptions of Lassen Peak and other dacite-dome volcanoes like Bumpass Mountain. The magma superheats a reservoir of groundwater deep within the Earth. Steam, as hot a 464 degrees Fahrenheit (240 degrees Celsius), rises and condenses into water again, mixing with the percolating groundwater nearer the surface. The mixture produces sulfate water that escapes through park hydrothermal features at temperatures about 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees Celsius)
Bumpass Hell is the largest “escape valve” for the underground boiler or hydrothermal system and is the main upward vent. Lesser upward flows exit as Sulfur Works, Devil’s Kitchen, Boiling Springs Lake and Little Hot Springs Valley. One Furnace, One System
I had made a trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park in June to find that most of the park was still closed to snow. Since I was in the general area again on a trip to visit a friend, I decided to make another stop knowing that a lot more of the park would be open.
The main goal I had was to hike to Bumpass Hell since I heard good things about it. It’s never good when you go to the trailhead of the hike you are planning to take and see the following sign:
Since starting this blog I have become much more aware of all the deaths that take place in National Parks, many of them due to people doing stupid things that they have been warned not to do. At the same time, there were quite a few people taking the trail so I was torn on what to do. I eventually stopped a couple of hikers that were coming back and asked them how the trail was. They explained that there were still areas of the trail covered in snow and ice that were slippery, but passable if you took your time. I decided to give the trail a try figuring I could turn back if it ended up being too dangerous. In the early going, the trail was clear and it didn’t seem there would be any issue:
And provided some spectacular views:
It wasn’t long, however, that the reason for the warning sign became apparent. Despite it being mid August, here were several long stretches of the path that were still completely covered with snow that would have made the path quite difficult for anyone that wasn’t very sure footed:
While the trail was definitely passable, there were quite a few people on the trail that were struggling and having to take the trail at an extremely slow pace. This was especially true for those that were in tennis shoes rather than hiking boots and families that had younger children. While the trek would have definitely been a lot easier had all the snow been cleared, it still may be a few weeks until that happens. If you happen to be in the area, I think it is worthwhile making the trek despite the snow — just be sure that you are wearing the proper hiking equipment.