Hike: Cinder Cone
Where: Lassen Volcanic National Park
Trailhead: Butte Lake
Duration: 2.5 hours
Length: 5 miles out and back
Gear: Icebreaker Tech T Lite shirt, Outdoor Research Turbine Shorts, Boreas Topaz 25, and Ahnu Sugarpine Waterproof Boot
Cost of Parking: Free ($10 to enter park)
The last time I tried to tackle the Cinder Cone was exactly a month ago, and my attempt failed. This time, we started from the Butte Lake trailhead which lead to a much shorter approach. Due to an accident on I-5 the night before, we got into camp extremely late and needed to be home that evening. We had to cut our hike short and only ended up going to the Cinder Cone instead of doing the full loop to Snag Lake and to Butte Lake.
This is a hike where gaiters would come in extremely handy. The entire trail, especially on the way up the Cinder Cone, is fine bits of loose gravel and cinders. If you’re an enthusiastic hiker like myself, you end up kicking a ton of sediment and rocks into your shoes. That being said, the trail is very moderate up until you reach the Cinder Cone. The climb is only 800 feet, but the loose cinder bits and pieces makes you feel like you’re slogging up a mountain of sand as you sink and slip with every step.
Despite the less than delightful trail up, the view from the top is unbeatable. You can wave to Mt. Lassen, Butte Lake and Snag Lake. The Fantastic Lava Beds and Painted Sand Dunes are laid out before you. And you can slip and sink your way down into the middle of the Cinder Cone.
On the way out, we took the trail down the back side of the Cinder Cone and past a small of the Painted Sand Dunes. There were lots of signs that indicating no hiking and I was happy to see that people actually obey the signs. We then circled around the cone where the trail intersected with the going up trail from Butte Lake and headed back.