Hiking to Bumpass Hell in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the best kept secrets in Northern California, as its a hotbed of volcanic activity surrounding its active volcano, Lassen Peak. This is no more evident as Bumpass Hell, an area of plopping mudpots, bubbling pools, and roaring steam vents sitting inside the park.

The descent to hell is easy. The 3-mile roundtrip hike gives you great views of Lassen Peak, Lake Hellen, Brokeoff Mountain, Mt. Diller and the dense valley below the trail at 8,000 feet elevation. It’s one of the more popular hikes in the park due to the dense scenery on such a short trek.

Steam rises alongside the newly constructed Bumpass Hell boardwalk for the Bumpass Hell Trail and Basin Rehabilitation Project. Photo: National Park Service

Kendall Vanhook Bumpass, a hunter/cowboy/prospector, discovered the area in 1864 while looking for stray cattle. During his first visit he broke through the thin crust of the earth and burnt his foot on the boiling mudpots below.

When he returned home and others asked him where he’d been, he replied “Boys, I have been in Hell.”

Kendall Bumpass

A local newspaper editor had heard about this story and asked Bumpass to take him to the area. Bumpass obliged and brought the editor to the area, again breaking through the crust and burning his leg. This time, the leg was burnt so badly that it had to be amputated.

Upon his return, Bumpass exclaimed to the locals “The descent to Hell is easy.”

Watch the video above to see how this easy hike give you some great education in the hydrothermal areas of Lassen Volcanic National Park along with some of the best views money can buy.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California


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