Every spring you can count on seeing articles in newspaper travel sections, AAA’s VIA magazine, Sunset, and other similar publications about how rugged and pretty Lassen National Park is, that the number of visitors is very small, and why you should plan a visit soon.
The articles keep on coming but the crowds don’t.
Lassen’s distance from any large metropolitan area and lack of a signature resort will probably assure that lonely condition in perpetuity, no matter how many magazine articles appear.
That’s just fine with me.
VIEW OF PARADISE MEADOW FROM WHERE THE TRAIL OPENS ON TO IT
This past weekend Keith and I rendezvoused at the Mill Creek Resort with our friends Kent and Pam from the Bay Area, whom we met when we stayed there in ’09. Unfortunately this year a week long stay was not possible – just a 2-night weekend – but since the drive from Chico to Mill Creek is only 90 minutes it’s not onerous at all.
The four of us did a hike on Saturday that Kent and Pam have done before, but Keith and I had not. It’s a short endeavor of about 1.4 miles one way from the road up to Paradise Meadow. To prove how uncrowded Lassen is, when we entered the park at the south entrance on a lovely Saturday in August, not a single car was ahead of us at the ranger station. And admission was free that day.
The hike follows the beginnings of Hat Creek up a canyon. In places the trail is a little steep but nothing out of the ordinary. The elevation gain is 700′ overall outbound.
ALONG HAT CREEK
Where the trail enters the meadow you’ll be rewarded with a pristine scene crisscrossed with crystal-clear rivulets (fairly deep in places) that drain the meadow and surrounding slopes. You’re looking at Hat Creek’s origins.
ONE OF THE RIVULETS FLOWING THROUGH THE MEADOW
VIEW OF LASSEN FROM THE NORTHEAST
PARADISE MEADOW VIEWED FROM ITS SOUTH END
The hike to Paradise Meadow will give you a nice introduction to Lassen’s beauty that comes without crowds. If you wish to make it a longer hike, you can continue past Paradise Meadow to Terrace, Shadow, and Cliff Lakes.
For three other Lassen hikes here’s a post I wrote last year.
WILDFLOWERS ON SOUTH SLOPE OF PARADISE MEADOW (Photo by Pam Abbey)