Place: Lassen Volcanic National Park, Mineral, California
Coordinates: 40.490846, -121.424579
Length: About 5 miles in and out
Every year I lead a group of families on a camping/hiking trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park, showing off my favorite place in California which I find so beautiful and inspiring. Each time I try to have some personal time to do some exploration on my own. Last weekend I went up from Summit Lake to Echo Lake and back. It's a trail I hiked twice before, and I also include here a few photos from my last year's hike of this pretty trail.
The official trailhead is a bit north of Summit Lake but I found parking in the day use area of the South Summit Lake Campground so I begun my hike right there at Summit Lake.
|Summit Lake and Hat Mountain|
Between the campground and the lake there is a beautiful meadow that was filled with wetland wildflowers. Among these orchids which were just beginning to bloom. Last year they were at their peak at the time of my visit:
|July 7, 2018|
|Calochortus July 7, 2018|
For the first half a mile the trail follows the curve of Summit lake, meandering through the trees. The forest in the higher region of Lassen Volcanic NP is of mixed conifers well spaced apart, so there's lots of sunshine and bits of view in between the trees.
There's also good undergrowth ground cover there. Manzanita mostly, but many other plants as well, such as this lovely lupine.
|Narrow-flowered Lupine, Lupinus angustiflorus|
|Pine Mat Manzanita, Arctostaphylos nevadensis|
The dragonflies were coming in large numbers from the lake. Just before the trail fork I went down to the shore of summit lake where I had a grand view of Lassen Peak.
|Summit Lake and Lassen Peak|
The higher I climbed the thinner was the forest and thicker the undergrowth bush cover was. I also had to pause and drink more often for it was getting quite hot.
Although the forest looked healthy I did see some trees that were hit by previous years drought and possibly other stresses.
There were also many fallen trees strewn around. Decomposition is slow up there. Harsh, dry conditions slow it down. But that doesn't stop new life from starting and new trees to sprout from the crumbling stumps of their fallen predecessors.
|July 7, 2018|
There were many other wildflowers blooming in the area besides the manzanita bushes. They made a good distraction for me.
|Mountain Pride, Penstemon newberi|
The trail down to echo lake was flanked by bushes that weren't manzanita. In fact, the smell of their bloom was very familiar and very strong. These were ceanothus shrubs.
I hurried down the path to Echo Lake and immediately had to apply mosquito repellent. There were a gazillion of them there!
On my hike there last year I was there with my family including Grandma Quail and my nephew. We got to the lake and soon after headed back without any further exploration. While I didn't have the time this year to hike any longer as well, I did have a few minutes to go to the far side of the lake and sit there for some time, away from the numerous people that were frolicking by it's western shore.
|Adult dragonfly, July 7, 2018|
|Brewer's Mountain heather, Phyllodoce breweri|
July 7, 2018
|Snow on the trail|
Commonly named 'deer brush' this ceanothus reminded me more of fluffy little clouds. It also attracted many bees so I kept a respectful distance from these pretty bushes.
|Deer Brush, Ceanothus integerrimus|
|A spider's bed of Manzanita blossoms|
|Slender Penstemon, Penstemon gracilentus|
|Summit Lake reflection|
|California Cornlily, Veratrum californicum var. californicum|
Eventually though, I needed to complete my hike and drive on to the Loomis Visitor Center where I was to meet with the families of our camping group and show them around Manzanita Lake before heading on to the campground for the night.