Hike: Clusters Lake Loop & Cinder Cone
Where: Lassen Volcanic National Park
Trailhead: Summit Lake
Duration: 8 hours
Length: 17 miles out and back
Gear: Icebreaker Tech T Lite shirt, Outdoor Research Turbine Shorts, Boreas Topaz 25, Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Poles, and Ahnu Sugarpine Waterproof Boot
Cost of Parking: Free
Really long days like this happen when I try to jam pack a lot of things into a short amount of time. I started at the Summit Lake trailhead where our campsite was. My intention was to go all the way out to the Cinder Cone (which I will be tackling this weekend), back and down around the whole Clusters Lake loop. It didn’t happen. It ended up being an out and back past Echo Lake, two unnamed lakes, Upper & Lower Twin Lakes, and Rainbow Lake to just a mile short of the Cinder Cone near the Fantastic Lava Beds and Painted Sand Dunes. This trail loops around Lower Twin lake and connects with the Pacific Crest Trail so you can opt to take that for a bit of a change of pace on your way back.
The trail up to Rainbow Lake is absolutely beautiful, but heading past that to the Cinder Cone is very hot, dry and barren. I highly suggest doing the full lake loop separately from the Cinder Cone for a more enjoyable and scenic experience. I also highly recommend hopping into one of the Twin Lakes, or maybe even Echo Lake and shouting really loud. They don’t call it Echo Lake for nothin’. The water is cool, crisp and so ridiculously clear! If you’d like to torture yourself, I would recommend this exact hike.