Access Special Backpacker.com Features, Register Now!

Lassen National Park: Bumpass Hell

This easy, 3-mile trail (out and back) visits Lassen’s largest geothermal area—a steaming basin filled with boiling mud pots, belching fumeroles, and colorful hot springs.

Rating

Bumpass Hell was named for Kendall Bumpass, who “discovered” the area in 1864. A year later, while guiding a group of tourists, Bumpass fell through the surface into one of the mud pots and badly scalded one of his legs—which he later lost. He commented that his “descent to hell was easy.” Today, a wooden boardwalk crosses the area, providing safe viewing for visitors.

From the trailhead parking area, set out on easy trail that gradually climbs around Bumpass Mountain. Along the way, spot several of the named peaks to the west; a viewpoint offers a plaque indicating the names of the surrounding points—Brokeoff Mountain, Diamond Peak, Mount Diller, and Pilot Pinnacle. Where the trail starts to descend, notice the distinct smell of sulphur, and the chugging sound of the Big Boiler fumarole. At an overlook of the basin, an interpretive sign tells the story of Kendall Bumpass.

At the basin, fork left on raised boardwalk to the top of a small hill which overlooks several of the boiling hot springs and the multicolored hillsides. Next, double back and continue up the basin, taking the turnoff to the Big Boiler viewing platform. The Big Boiler is the hottest geothermal feature in the world, with temps measured up to 322º. Move on up the boardwalk to view the Boiling Pool, Pool of Gold, and the upper fumaroles. When ready, return by the same route.

-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, Bosco Mountain Photo

To Trailhead

From Lassen's SW entrance, drive the park road 6 miles north to the Bumpass Hell parking area, between Emerald and Helen Lakes.

Leave a Reply