Friday, August 29, 2014

Again and Again and It's Never Enough: Manzanita Lake

Manzanita Lake, October 2011. Photo taken by a friend who hiked with us. 
Dates: So many times I cannot remember them all. Photos here are from August 2011, October 2011, April 2014, July 2014.
Place: Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park
Coordinates: 40.536426, -121.562437
Length: about 2 miles
Difficulty: easy

Manzanita Lake is right by the North Entrance to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Being right by the park's main road we always stop there. It is such a beautiful walk, and a very easy one too. Over the years I accumulated many photos from that trail. I am sharing a few (!) of them here.

Usually we start the hike at the Visitor Center. On out last Trip though, we started our circumvent from the campground area.
Manzanita Lake, July 2014
It was early July, and everything was bright green and the lake was as calm as it can be.
Chaos Crag (left) and Lassen Peak (right), July 2014
While July in the Bay Area means summer well underway, July in the mountains means spring. It is the height of the blooming time and also the best time to see babies.
American Coot, chick, July 2014
Young adults included :-)
American Coot with Young, July 2014
A walk around Manzanita Lake is never a quick one. As short and easy it is, it is jam-packed with sights worth stopping for.
A successful Song Sparrow, July 2014
The birds around the lake make their presence very noticeable. But there are other wildlife there, off the trail and in the vegetation. The doe was well camouflaged within the bushes.
Mule Deer, July 2014
And the chipmunk was almost to quick to photograph. Almost.
Chipmunk, July 2014
The trail that circumvent Lake Manzanita crosses the Manzanita Creek on top a low and narrow wooden bridge. The chikas and their cousins were fascinated by the current and sat there for some time,  making little leaf boats and sending them to float under the bridge.
Manzanita Creek, July 2014
Meanwhile, Papa Quail found a mountain chickadee's nest. It's consigned housing, of course. Originally curved in the tree by a woodpecker.
Mountain Chickadee, July, 2014
The west side of the lake provides the most beautiful views of Lassen Peak. This high and solid mountain was melting in the lake like one of Dalí's painted dream. 
Keap Nessal, July 2014
While visiting this park many times, I have never been there during winter, when most of Lassen Volcanic National Park is closed to traffic due to snow. Last April, however, as we were crossing the mountain pass on Hy44 from Susanville to Redding, we took the chance to get a sneak peek at Manzanita Lake while it was wearing white.
Manzanita Lake, April 2014
It felt just like stepping through the wardrobe.
Just like Narnia. The woods by Manzanita Lake, April 2014
The trail was completely covered. I wandered here and there around the deserted visitor center, and even crossed the road to look at the next lake over: Lily Pond.
The Surface reflection of he suitabley-named Reflection Lake, April 2014
Meanwhile, the chikas got busy. It was a while since they've been in the snow and they wanted to make the best of this opportunity.
Near Manzanita Lake Visitor Center, April 2014
A snowman could get very lonely without his best friend :-)
Near Manzanita Lake Visitor Center, April 2014

But there was real wildlife to be seen there. Much more than I had expected, considering the wintery scenery.
White-headed Woodpecker, male, by his nest. 
There were quite a few woodpeckers about, and all seemed to be working on their nests. It was April and not February, after all.
Hairy Woodpecker, male
I convinced Papa Quail to go down to the lake, where a sole squirrel was hopping in the snow.
Douglas' Squirrel, April 2014
We stood there for some time, appreciating the serene, black and white view. It was very silent and calm, and I didn't think anything could top my swelling heart at that moment.
So still. Manzanita Lake, April 2014
But just then, a black and white figure detached from the trees and swooped over the lake. It was a bald eagle. My heart leapt.
'Emptiness, Eagles and Snow'. April 2014
Papa quail quickly raised his camera. The majestic bird circled the lake several times and then returned to sit in the trees on the far side of the lake.
Bald Eagle swooping over Manzanita Lake, April 2014
We waited for a good long time after that, hoping that the eagle would fly down again, but it seemed to have had enough. At least for that moment. Eventually it started snowing again and Papa quail reminded me for the second time that day that we were planning to get to Redding at a decent hour that evening, so with much reluctance I dragged my feet back to the parking lot.
Dark-eyed Junco, April 2014
I am now determined to return to Lassen Volcanic national Park during winter. Maybe on skis or snow shoes. It is an entirely different world there, when snow reigns.

No one year is like another. 2011 wasn't a draught year and on July of that year we were welcomed with flowing water everywhere. It was hard to start the hike around the lake because the chikas stopped to play at every little rivulet .
July 2011
Lassen Peak itself was whiter that year too.
July 2011
And the deer a bit less shy ...
Mule Deer Fawn, July 2011
Same trail, same month. Different wildlife.
A lizard basking in the sun , July 2011
Some were very surprising:
Musk Rat going for a swim, July 2011
On the south lake shore there is a large dead tree lying in the water, and it has a woodpecker hole, but what we saw inside was a sublet.
Mountain Chickadee, July 2011
Every time we go there we now look inside that hole :-)
Brown-headed Cowbird, female, July 2011
Later that year we had the opportunity to visit Lassen Volcanic NP again, with friends from overseas. It was autumn and the colors were just spectacular.
Manzanita Lake, October 2011. Photo taken by our friend. 
It was also right before sunset. The low sun rays greatly enhanced the fall color display.
Lassen Peak reflecting in Manzanita Lake, October 2011.

The light was fading quickly. Soon, the flash had to be used for taking photographs.
Douglas' Squirrel, October 2011. I like the flash effect :-) 
I was the only one of our group who completed the trail that day. The night fell quickly and I ran ahead to get the car while everyone else sat by the lake at a place where there road is close by.
Steller's Jay, October 2011
There was just enough light left to film the bats swooping to catch the bugs from the water surface.

Preparing this post has got me craving again to go there soon. It won't be long. Maybe I won't even wait until spring.


  1. Lovely! so lovely!
    especially that Bald Eagle, and the fawn - it's amazing and the pictures are great!

  2. Very beautiful - winter, spring, summer and fall all you have to do is visit there :-)

  3. Some really nice photos. If you have not visited the park in the fall, it would be a great time for a return visit. Fall colors are just starting.

    1. Thank you Sharon!
      I have been there in the fall. The last set of photos were taken in mid-october and the colors were spectacular indeed! (But I love Lassen any time of year).

  4. Beautiful!!
    Makes me want to come up north and visit this wonderful area.

    1. I totally agree :-) Lassen Volcanic NP is certainly an all-time favorite with me!

  5. beautiful
    i have been in meny parks in the state like lake taho, utha, zion park, yelostone, yosmety, red wood , mury wood, centrat park boston, maim and meny moor, i do hope to come beck for a big ture,

    1. Thank you! It would be great if you do! And if you do, let me know :-)