Icicles Galore: A Winter Exploration of Lassen’s Subway Cave

It is one of the locations that is close enough to make a day trip, and one I have done many times before. However, I’ve only been to Subway Caves in the middle of the summer, when the cool air of the caves offered a nice break from the heat of our Northern California sun. Usually, the parking lot is full and everyone and their pets are out.

Going in the winter is a very different experience. For one, I couldn’t even get to the parking area. No doubt due to winter conditions, the road was gated off. However, I was able to park off the road, and judging by all of the footprints in the snow, I wasn’t the only person who kept walking past the closed gate. The walk to the trailhead is short, maybe a half mile at the most. The first thing that struck me was the ice that had accumulated on the road and on the trail. I had to pay attention. Even though it was a warm and sunny day, there was still a bit of snow.

When I came to the mouth of the cave, I did not see the usual welcoming entrance. Instead, daggers of icicles dangled from the roof, resembling the sharp and jagged teeth of some subterranean beast. The stairs down were covered in a layer of thick ice, and I held the handrails tight to make sure I didn’t slip down. Once I got inside the mouth of the cave, I was rewarded with a beautiful sight. The ice near the entrance had been frozen in time, and with it the swirled white and grey and opaque designs that looking like topographic maps of the rocky surface beneath. All around, I could hear the dripping of the melting icicles, and the cave that was usually so welcoming and family friendly seemed sinister.

Of course, I had to walk through it. It is about 1300 feet long, and I had brought two flashlights and a Luci Light. The Luci Light is an inflatable, solar powered lantern that came to me as a Christmas gift from my parents last year. I attached it to my backpack, so that at any moment I could see behind me. I walked farther into the cave, until I was out of sunlight and only had my flashlight to see. I had to walk slowly over the icy ground, and watch my head for protruding icicles.

For some reason, even though I have done this short hike many times before, this time was different. The cave was sinister and eerie, and the fact I was alone didn’t help. The darkness around me and constant dripping tapped into some primeval fear of the dark that I didn’t know I had. I tried to turn off my flashlight, but could only stand for a moment. Even as I walked, my flashlight would flicker and I would have small moments of panic. It didn’t help that occasionally, the noise of the dripping and my steps would be interrupted by a CRACK of an icicle snapping and falling. At one point, I had to actually duck under a wall of icicles to keep going. This might surprise those who know me, because I am vertically challenged. The hike seemed longer too, and I was glad to see the sunlight at the other end.

At the far end, the icicles were longer and at one point even almost touched the ground. I climbed the icy stairway out, and stood in the warmth and comfort of the sun.

The way back was not so bad. I knew the icy spots to avoid, and I knew I was the only person or animal crazy enough to be in this cold hole in the ground. I tried to take some photos, and enjoyed seeing the fog of my breath in the circle of light that emanated from my flashlight. It was much less frightful, much more enjoyable. When I got out on the other side, I ate the lunch I had brought. As usual, it was warm outside, so I had to peel off a few layers that I needed in the cave.

I drove home as the sun was setting, towards Redding and away from the snow. This local spot is definitely a perfect place for anyone to escape the heat during the summer, but it is an entirely different, eerie, and more surreal experience in winter. 10 out of 10, would recommend. Just make sure to bring an extra flashlight, just to be safe.


From Redding, follow 44 east, past the turnoff to the entrance to Lassen National Park on Hwy 89. At Old Station, follow 89 north for about a quarter mile and it will be on the right.

Ryan Loughrey

Ryan has been wandering the PNW since 1993. Follow his blog at peaceloveandabowlofrice.wordpress.com


  1. I live in this area, and people going into closed areas is the bane of the local Forest Service’s existence. If the gate is closed, the area is closed and not open to the public- this means you were legally trespassing and could have gotten a ticket. Please don’t encourage other people to do the same. Not only is it illegal, but there is no cell signal- if you had slipped on the ice and fallen, there is a real possibility that no one would have found you before nightfall.

  2. Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis.
    It’s always exciting to read articles from other authors and use
    something from their sites.

  3. Tinder nonetheless overshadows the rest of the daating app market, with 64 million downloads to second
    spot Bumble’s 28 million.

  4. This annual loss to the wage gap could have paid for eikght
    montjs of a family’s groceries,ten eight months of chiold care,
    and eight months of rent.

  5. Definotely consider tha that you stated. Your favourite justification appeared to be on the net the easiest
    factor to have in mind of. I say to you, I definitely get irked whilst other folks think about concerns that they plainly do not recognise about.
    You controlled to hit the nail upon the topp and also defined out the entire thing without having side-effects , oother
    people can take a signal. Will likely be again tto get more.
    Thank you

  6. Two thirds of divorces are initiated by women, even even though their probabilities of
    remarrying are slimmer than their ex-spouses’.

  7. Hey would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using?
    I’m looking to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a hard time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs
    and I’m looking for something unique.
    P.S My apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  8. Thhe group is based around the familiar 12-step methoid made use of by other assistance groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

  9. The finish users have thhe comfort and comfort of gambling inside their space comfort, which is a single
    of the key drivers of the segment.

  10. With its commitment to accountable lending, competitive prices,
    and flexible repayment terms, CashUSA stands out
    amongst other payday loan providers.

  11. It was alszo the 1st Korean beauty brand to attain the Environmental
    Operatfing Group’s (EWG) Protected Cosmetics Champion status.

  12. In 2014, Crenova and Hydako – a famous physical slot machine
    manufacturer – mutually signed an exclusive contract for
    a mobile and on the net IP license in South Korea.

  13. For much more than 3 years, Kim Ju-hee has been studying complete time for an exam that feels
    like her only shot at a good life in South Korea.

  14. Unlike Williams, Rama does not borrow directly from his waking life for topic matter he aims to discover automated and preconscious processes.

  15. An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment. I do
    believe that you need to write more on this topic, it may not be a taboo matter but usually people don’t discuss these issues.

    To the next! Kind regards!!

  16. This luxurious therapy will detoxify and pamper
    you from herad to toe, leaving your skin feeling as soft and smooth as a baby’s skjn by the end of
    the session.

  17. Adding critical oilss or an incense fragrance like
    camphor to your yoga regime stimulates your mind and hits the mental refresh button.

  18. Wow, superb weblog format! How long have you been blogging
    for? you make running a blog look easy. The whole look of your site is
    excellent, let alone the content!

  19. States have wide leeway in fguring out how to resgulate
    gambling and betting as lengthy as it doesn’t contradict federal law.

  20. If yoou file a claim by mail, be sure to preserve a copy oof your claim kind and maske a
    copy of the front and back of your ticket for your records prior to mailing it.

  21. Undeniably believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification appeared to
    be on the internet the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to
    you, I definitely get irked while people think about worries that they just do not know
    about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined
    out the whole thing without having side-effects , people can take
    a signal. Will probably be back to get more.

  22. What’s up everybody, here every person is sharing these experience,
    therefore it’s good to read this website, and I used to visit
    this blog all the time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button