Things to Do in Lassen and Lake Almanor
The St. Bernard Lodge and surrounding area of Lassen Volcanic National Park and Lake Almanor have so much to offer for those who love the outdoors from hiking and horseback riding to fishing and camping to photography and geology. We suggest at least a 3 night stay to see the area if at all possible in your travel plans. Many guests come back to this area year after year just to see more.
Suggested Itineraries When Visiting Lassen Park and the Lake Almanor Basin
Day 1 - Visit the new Visitor Center at the south Entrance of Lassen Volcanic National Park. The Visitor Center has been named Kohm Yah-mah-nee which is the Mt. Maidu name for Snowy Mountain (Lassen Peak). The Visitor Center has an auditorium showing a short film of Park history and sights. There are hands-on interpretive exhibits and displays for all ages. The Visitor Center is open 7 days a week from 9:00 am - 5:00pm and will give you a great overview of the Park. The Park Rangers can give you up-to-date information on trail conditions. This building is believed to be the first LEED-certified visitor center in the National Park Services.
Depending on your interests choose several of the hikes off the main road. Some of the more popular hikes are: Brokeoff, Mill Creek Falls, King Creek Falls, Bumpass Hell and Lassen Peak. After a full day of hiking return to the lodge to relax, have a drink at the bar, dinner and maybe play a game of pool.
Day 2 - Visit the South East corner of Lassen Volcanic Park and Drakesbad Guest Ranch. To enjoy the hikes in this area you do not need reservations; however, reservations are required in advance for horseback riding, lunch, or dinner at Drakesbad.
If you have reservations for a meal we suggest staying to soak in the mineral hot spring pool.
The favorite hikes in this part of the park are: Devils Kitchen, Boiling Springs Lake and Terminal Geyser. We suggest picking one or two of the hikes. Each one is unique. All three hikes can be completed in one day by serious hikers.
Devils Kitchen is one of the easier hikes in the park: it is at a lower elevations, relatively flat and 4.2 miles round-trip. You are rewarded with some very interesting mud pots at the end of the hike. This is the second largest geothermal area in Lassen Park.
Boiling Springs Lake is also an easy hike of 1.8 miles from the trailhead. It is the largest active geothermal feature in Lassen Park and one of the largest hot water lakes in the world. The Lake is an interesting sea green color and the water is heated by steam vents beneath the lake at a crispy 125 degrees.
Terminal Geyser is 1.8 miles from the same trailhead or 4.4 miles round trip from the Willow Lake Campground. Terminal Geyser is not a true "geyser"; rather, it is a fumarole or steam vent flowing into a stream.
Day 3 - Take a break from hiking. Spend some time on Lake Almanor or Butt Lake. Lake Almanor has year-round fishing, boat, and jet ski, kayak, paddleboard, and bicycle rentals in the summer. For motor boat rentals, visit Major’s Outpost on the west shore of Lake Almanor and for non powered boats look up Lake Almanor Kayaks, Stand Up Paddleboard and Bike Rentals in Canyon Dam. Horseback riding is available at Plumas Pines Stables near the west shore of Lake Almanor.
Butt Lake is smaller and quieter than Lake Almanor and is a great location for picnics, fishing, kayaking and canoeing.
Day 4 - Visit the NE corner of Lassen Volcanic National Park. Hike Cinder Cone which is a 350 year old volcano. View the painted dunes and look down into an actual volcano. For the serious hiker, add in Prospect Peak which is a shield volcano and looks down on Cinder Cone. Part of the Cinder Cone trail follows a portion of the Nobles Emigrant Trail. Also, watch to see if you can see any old wagon tracks. If planning on both, we suggest hiking Cinder Cone first and then Prospect Peak on the way back to the trailhead.
When in the area make sure to stop at Hat Creek Rim Overlook on Hwy 44. You will be able to see the valley that Hat Creek and Fall River Mills sit in and the major peaks in the area including Mt. Shasta, Lassen Peak, West Prospect Peak, Crater Peak, Magee Peak and Burney Mountain. The overlook has two pay telescopes to make sure you do not miss anything.
Subway Caves is always a fun stop. A great little walk on a hot summer day, the lava tube is 46 degrees year-round. The Lava tubes are 1/3 of a mile long. Make sure to bring a flashlight or headlamps. The Subway Cave is a day use area in the Lassen National Forest. Free guided tours are offered each weekend from early June to Labor Day. You can also visit the lava tubes on a self guided tour.
Day 5 - Stroll Chester’s museum’s and gift shops. Chester has the last log cabin library in California. Lassen Gift’s has an old fashion soda fountain and the best milk shakes and freezes in he area. It has been written up in Sunset Magazine in the past. Greenville, Taylorsville and Quincy all have quaint museums and gift shops to visit. The Indian Valley Arm between Greenville and Taylorsville is a great back country road and part of Plumas County’s Barn Quilt Tour.
Day 6 - Spend the day wine tasting in Manton. Manton has 6 bonded wineries and 11 vineyards. The area has been designated the Manton Valley American Viticultural Area. There are only 230 such designated Viticultural areas in the United States.
To make a full day of it, we suggest heading west on Hwy 36 from St. Bernard Lodge, take a right on Lyons Ferry Road before Paynes Creek and follow signs into Manton. After visiting the wineries, head north to Shingletown. If you had not had your fill of wineries there are two more wineries in Shingletown. Shingletown is also home to the Wild Horse Sanctuary on Wilson Road. The Wild Horse Sanctuary is open amd free to the public on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10am–4pm for Wild horse viewing. At Shingletown, head east on Hwy 44 and drop back through Lassen Park on Hwy 89. You can also continue on Hwy 44 and circle around the east side of Lassen Park and come in at Westwood. From Westwood head west again back to St. Bernard Lodge. If you circle around Lassen Park you may want to stop and see the Subway Caves and Hat Creek Rim Overlook.