A Snowshoeing Adventure Around Lassen’s Manzanita Lake

Photo by Darlene M. Koontz

By Ryan Loughrey

Despite the current sunny weather, this most recent storm imbued Northern California with plenty of snow to play in and explore around. One activity from our winter bucket list that I’ve been able to cross off recently is snowshoeing.

Lassen National Park offers plenty of space to snowshoe, (as well as backcountry ski, sled, backcountry backpack, etc), and even Ranger-led snowshoe hikes with snowshoes provided for a small donation. (For more information on the guided hikes, check out the Park Service website here).

Kiva, my steadfast adventurer-in-crime, accompanied me up on our venture. Although we considered the guided hike, we wanted to explore on our own. We rented our snowshoes from Sports Ltd., which offers rentals for $15 for a pair for a day. I don’t know why, but I expected them to be the old fashioned, wooden tennis racket looking beasts that strap to your feet. However, as the rest of technology has advanced, so have snowshoes. Ours were made of a lightweight metal, strapped onto our feet with ease, and had small metal spikes similar to crampons underneath for grip.

We drove to the north entrance station, the Loomis Ranger Station, and were able to park here. I should note that just past the parking lot here, the National Park Highway is closed and will reopen in winter.

We chose to follow the Manzanita Lake Loop, which is about a 1.5 mile hike. After leaving our car, we headed past the closed ranger station and towards the lake. Although we knew there was a trail because we had done it before, the thick snow completely covered it and left the grounds indeterminable to distinguish. Still, we knew we could simply circle the lake and make it back to the car, and this would not be a challenge.

The snow was thick, and light, fluffy flakes fell throughout our hike. Other than our snowshoe prints, the only disturbances to the perfect layers of snow were a few animal tracks. I suspect we were the only humans on that trail that day.

We stayed near the edge of the lake, not wanting to venture too close for fear of breaking through the ice and into the lake.

Although we couldn’t quite locate the trail, and we may technically have been lost once or twice, the hike was quite serene. While hiking, we could only hear the crunch of our shoes compacting the snow underfoot. If we stopped walking, we would be surrounded with the peaceful sound of snowfall and the muffled and ambient noise of snow.

In the same indescribable way that you can walk outside after a storm and smell that it has rained recently, you can also stand still in the snow and hear the faintly audible noise of snow.

In the winter newsletter from Lassen NPS, they devote time to speaking to winter soundscapes. The Superintendent of the park, Steve Gibbons, writes “Whether you’ve come to Lassen this winter for sightseeing, solitude, adventure, or play—I hope that you will take a moment to experience Lassen’s winter soundscape. I think you will find that the deep winter snow helps to amplify even the most subtle sounds.”

It was a beautiful day for a hike, and I am glad we were able to hear the natural and quiet chorus of nature. That being said, the cold hike also helped us appreciate hot chocolate and the sandwiches we brought much more. I can’t wait to explore and snowshoe more in the future.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California


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