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Fire and ice are the protagonists in the long-running geologic drama played out in the Sierra in northern California, and nowhere is the show better-or more crowded-than Lassen Volcanic National Park. Fortunately, most visitors opt to climb Lassen Peak, leaving the rest of the park open for hiking in utter solitude, even in midsummer.
RECOMMENDED HIKE: Butte Lake to Snag Lake Loop. This gentle, 14-mile loop provides a smorgasbord sampling of Lassen, with mountain lakes, high meadows, lava fields, pine forests, cinder cones, and views of adjacent peaks.
WHEE: Lassen National Park is 240 miles (41/2 hours) northeast of San Francisco. Follow CA 36 east from Red Bluff to park headquarters.
MAPS: Earthwalk Press (800-828-6277) sells a map and hiking guide to the park for $3.95.
CONTACT: Lassen Volcanic National Park, P.O. Box 100, Mineral, CA 96063; (530) 595-4444.