Distance: 3½ miles
Type: Out & Back
Elevation gain: 850ft (from 5,900 - 6,700ft)
In geological terms the landscape of Lassen Volcanic National Park is about as young as it gets, and for an example you need look no further than Chaos Crags, a mountain of pink dacite that sprouted from the earth only a thousand years ago.
Even more recent was the Chaos Jumbles rockslide - a massive carpet of rock which separated from the mountain and careened down its flanks at speeds over 100mph, devastating the forest below and only coming to rest after spilling up the side of Table Mountain a whole two miles away. The rockside also blocked a local creek, creating what is known today as Manzanita Lake which is where this hike begins.
The hiking trail winds its way through a surviving section of evergreen forest running parallel to the jumbles. The trees thin out gradually as you ascend the mountain, giving way to views of the craggy rock face.
Your destination on this trail is Chaos Crags Lake, though if you're tackling this trail in the summer months a better name would likely be Chaos Crags Puddle. Snowmelt that collects in this crater resulting from the landslide can even evaporate entirely by late summer, so if you're expecting a cooling dip you'll probably want to save yourself for the return to the Manzanita Lake trailhead.
Snow covers the Lassen landscape for much of the year and some roads and trails may not be open - even in summer. Check the links in our tangents section to find updated information on road closures, trail closures and campground status.
- Trailspotting Images: Lassen Chaos Crags on Flickr
- Wikipedia: Chaos Crags
- EveryTrail: Hiking in Lassen Park