Bumpass Hell is a large geothermal area that is well worth experiencing in Lassen Volcanic National Park. This majestic place features hot spring ponds, boiling mud pits and plenty of steam rising from the fissures in the colorful mineralized rock strata. The name of this place actually comes from a man named Bumpass, who fell into a boiling geyser in the geothermal area and lost his leg, so it goes without saying that care must be taken to stay on the trail when exploring this unique place. The Bumpass Hell Trail is well marked and the skill level is fairly easy, so just about anybody can experience Bumpass Hell.
Unfortunately, the 2020 wildfire season went full swing shortly after I arrived in northern California, so I wasted no time getting out of the area. It took a couple of days to drive from the coastal redwoods to Mt Lassen, which was no easy chore. After breaking camp before dawn in the neighboring Lassen National Forest, the plan was to do a brief drive through tour of the Lassen Volcanic National Park before finishing the last leg of the evacuation east to Nevada. A brief tour it certainly was and I actually only spent a few minutes at Bumpass Hell, without doing the hike. The reason why had to do with the thick forest fire smoke that was just starting to envelope this region that morning. Getting out before the coughing and wheezing started was best to do.
My own Bumpass Hell Hike will have to wait for a return visit, but all is not lost. The scenic overlook at the trailhead offers some great views, while the bare bedrock that is stood upon is so odd looking that it will leave a visitor scratching the noggin in wonder. The solid ancient basalt flows are twisted and fragmented in every direction, which indicates that an extreme cataclysmic event took place. The displaced giant boulders offer unique subject material for landscapes, while the crags shelter dozens of aggressive ground squirrels putting on territorial displays. Just stopping to briefly take a look around certainly will not be a disappointment at Bumpass Hell and if you have the time the hike is simply a must to do!
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