CA – Lassen Volcanic National Park, Nobles Trail, Hat Creek Section (July 2021)

The Nobles Trail is an old wagon route with a few remaining sections in the park. “it was used by emigrant parties from the east as a shortened route to northern California. It was pioneered in 1851 by William Nobles, who discovered an easy shortcut between the Applegate Trail in Nevada and the Lassen Trail in California. The trail was extensively used until the 1870s, when it was superseded by railroads. The 24-mile section of trail within the boundaries of Lassen Volcanic National Park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 3, 1975. The section within the park is maintained as a hiking trail.” Source: Wikipedia

We chose the trail for creek access knowing it would be another hot day, but I was reminded that maps lie and creeks aren’t always as accessible as depicted. So instead it became a day to find beauty and change as the land regenerates from the 2012 Reading Fire.

We were happy to see many new trees.

The wildflowers were flourishing with all the extra light.

Especially the Lassen Paintbrush.

This section of the Nobles Trail is still in use by Park vehicles providing access to the Hat Creek Patrol Station.

The trail becomes less defined after the cabin but is still relatively easy to follow. Just look for the log cuts and piled clearings.

The first creek crossing is via a bridge where you have to work a bit to gain access to the water. This is the second access point. Plan on getting your feet wet. Notice all the new growth aspen trees. We found quite a few patches and one giant mother that survived the fire and was now surrounded by her children.

This trail also provides access to the Pacific Crest Trail.

We found large meadows of blooming balsamroot near this junction.

This was the third creek access point, just a short distance off the trail, and our turnaround for the day.

I found a perfect hole to cool off in preparation for the return trip.

The highlight of my trip was finding a few large patches of Ranunculus aquatilis L., white water buttercups. I’d seen photos of these in Warner Valley and I really wanted to see myself. They grow in floating mats of algae or something similar.

The wildlife was back! We saw tons of deer prints, this bear print, and enjoyed watching the squirrels and birds.

The Reading Fire was massive and changed this landscape. It won’t recover in my lifetime so I’m trying to learn to appreciate what remains. While many trails in the Park are heavily used, there are still some like this one with low to non-existent traffic. On this day, it was all ours.

More jaunts in Lassen (link)

CA – Lassen Volcanic National Park, Mill Creek Falls (June 2021)

There are still trails in Lassen I haven’t hiked, including this one to Mill Creeks Falls. When a friend called with an invite I said YES!

I’d seen photos of the falls before and knew they weren’t WOWtastic but I figured with it being early season, they’d be at peak. What I wasn’t expected was to find peak blooms of Woolly mule’s ears and Arrow leaved balsamroot.

I have a hard time telling them apart in photos. In person I know the mule’s ears have soft and fuzzy leaves. My botany friend told me these in the photo below are Arrow leaved balsamroot.

Bleeding hearts and stickweed (NOT hounds tongue as I incorrectly assumed) were also in abundance.

California Stickweed (Hackelia californica). There was a lot. Initially I thought it was popcorn flower but looking closer I was sure it was the white version of hounds tongue. But I was wrong on that count also.

First view of Mill Creek Falls with a little paintbrush in the foreground.

Mill Creek Falls, much more impressive in person than this photo shows. According to my guidebook “this is a 75-foot drop and it’s the tallest in Lassen Park. It consists of 3 separate falls: East Sulphur Creek and Bumpass Creek tumble 25-30′ into a swirling pool before their combined waters plunge another 50′ to the base of Mill Creek Falls.”

We found a nice shady area next to the creek to cool off and enjoy lunch before working out way back to the trailhead. There are only about 3-4 areas along the trail with water access. The yellow blooms tried to steal the show.

Wooly Mules Ears with Brokeoff Mountain and I believe Mt Diller.

Nothing FLAT about this trail. You can see on the profile those steep areas that were super challenging for me at this point in my rehab. It was hard to believe the hike was less than 4 miles and less than 700 feet of elevation gain/loss. I’d always had this on my EASY list thus mostly avoiding it. I found out upon returning home it’s really considered moderate because of the incline and rocky terrain. For those looking for a bigger challenge or who have two vehicles to shuttle, the trail continues another 3.5 miles to Kings Creek Picnic Area. The bonus is seeing Cold Boiling and Crumbaugh Lakes as well as Conard Meadows.

Other jaunts at Lassen Volcanic National Park: