Prospect Peak P1K
Cinder Cone P300
Raker Peak P1K

Wed, Jun 20, 2018

With: Jackie Burd

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2


The second day of our 3-day road trip was the easier than the first, though not by much as we paid a visit to some peaks in the northeast corner of Lassen Volcanic National Park. Like most of the peaks in this region, they are volcanic by nature and we had a nice selection with fine views and great weather.

Prospect Peak/Cinder Cone

We drove about 26mi from our motel at Old Station to Butte Lake where our hike would begin. There are trails going to both of these summits and they use the same trailhead at the west end of the lake. Ours was the only vehicle when we started out around 8am, but the Cinder Cone hike is quite popular and the lot would be almost full before we returned. Prospect Peak is a shield volcano, built up over time with layer upon layer of easy flowing lava. Not terribly impressive, but easy to climb, especially with a trail, and without all the awful rock associated with cinder cones. The 3.5mi trail forks off from the Cinder Cone Trail around the half-mile mark, gently climbing up through forest until the views begin to open up in the last several hundred feet of elevation. Not surprisingly, Mt. Lassen dominates the views, though there are dozens of other volcanic summits in view as well. It took us about an hour and a half to reach the highpoint where we found a benchmark and a very popular register, no surprise there. There is a nice view to the northwest of West Prospect, another P1K that we had visited the previous day.

On our way back down, I saved us almost a mile by turning off the trail to head more directly towards Cinder Cone, our second objective. Jackie thought this was illegal until I assured it was perfectly alright to do so. The 2/3mi of cross-country was exceedingly easy through mostly gravel and sand slopes in the forest understory. One short section of downfall slowed us briefly, but the shortcut worked quite nicely to get us to the base of Cinder Cone. Upon our arrival, it was instantly clear this was a very popular hike. There were more than a dozen folks making there way up the steep gravel trail, and more than that cruising around the summit area (though we didn't see those folks initially). The trail climbs more than 500ft in a quarter mile and its super-wide construction (looks like it was made for vehicles) is a nice feature which allows parties to easily pass one another. We motored up at a steady pace without stopping, which made Jackie feel pretty good as we passed 9-10 folks along the way. I particularly enjoyed the hike around the crater rim, a pictureque stroll with commanding views of the Painted Dunes, Fantastic Lava Beds (yes, the superlative is actually part of the name), Snag Lake, Butte Lake, and of course, Mt. Lassen, about 10mi to the WSW. We made a complete circle, going over the highpoint on the north side of the rim before heading back down. Jackie took to running the steep trail (an awful mess of loose gravel and sand that isn't much fun on the way up, but great for a quick descent), handily beating her father, who at his advanced age, had no chance of keeping up such a pace.

Back at the TH we made a diversion to check out Butte Lake. Jackie wanted to take a dip, but it took some doing to find a place with a non-muddy bottom and some semblence of privacy. Dad drank soda and snacked while Jackie spent probably 20min in the water. It was long enough for her to get a bit of a sunburn on her face and shoulders. She better learn to use sunscreen before we tackle Mt. Lassen the following day our she's going to be in a bit of hurt...

Raker Peak

We drove back to Old Station where I dropped Jackie off at our motel room at the Hat Creek Lodge. She'd had enough for the day and welcomed the chance to relax the rest of the afternoon. I didn't even shut off the Jeep as I dropped her off with her stuff before heading back out to visit Raker Peak, another P1K. This one is located along the main road through the park, SR89, and it took more driving than I had expected to make my way to the west end of the peak where SR89 goes by within a mile. I parked at a convenient turnout on the east side of the highway and headed up the slopes immediately adjacent the highway. There is an imposing band of cliffs on the west side of the peak, immediately in my path. I knew from the topo map that the terrain was steep, but the contours on the topo map don't seem to adequately represent it as the 200-foot cliff band it is, going close to vertical. Still, upon close inspection, there are a number of class 3 routes possible taking one up through the cliffs. I enjoyed this section immensely, the best part of the day as I carefully picked my way up through the cliffs. Above the cliff band there is still much elevation to gain, but there are no more technical difficulties encountered. With half a mile to go, the terrain relents considerably and it becomes a literal walk in the park the rest of the way to the summit. There are actually three places vying for the highpoint, all within 5ft of the same elevation. The topo map shows only three, but there is a third to the south of the other two. I visited all three in turn, leaving a register on the easternmost summit which seemed to be the highest, according to the GPSr. A fire had ravaged the peak some time ago, leaving a lot of dead snags. A few of these had crashed down upon the summit rocks, making it difficult to visit. John Vitz had been to this summit previously, but I saw no sign of a register. I wondered if the trees had scattered it somewhere down the slope, but I didn't do a thorough search for it - the new one I left would have to suffice. I found an alternate descent down a steep slope on the northwest side of the peak that avoided the cliffs (it would have been extra spicy to downclimb my ascent route), bypassing them to the north and neatly returning to the road and the turnout where I had started without much extra work. It was a little after 3:30p by the time I returned, having taken about an hour and forty minutes for the whole outing. It was time to head back to the Hat Creek Lodge, get a shower and, together with Jackie, discover the culinary delights to be found in Old Station...


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