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Memorial Day Backpacking in Lassen Volcanic National Park: The Cinder Cone Loop

May 24-26, 2014

Backpacking Lassen Natonal ParkEscape the crowds and spend 3 days backpacking at Lassen Volcanic National Park with the OAC!


Lassen Volcanic National Park is Northern California’s hidden gem. Located at the southernmost tip of the Shasta Cascades near Redding, the park is named after its signature landmark, Lassen Peak. This active volcano blew its top in 1915, and it was this eruption which formed the dramatic landscape that is so beautiful today. With such an explosive history, every feature of the park was bestowed with an equally dramatic name. One of the coolest things about Lassen is the sense of adventure present when exploring Bumpass Hell, Cold Boiling Lake, the Fantastic Lave Beds, the Painted Dunes, the Chaos Crags and Chaos Jumbles, or the Devastated Zone. The immense forces which created this stark landscape are immediately evident, and provide a crash course in geology and hydrothermal features. What else makes Lassen special? There are never any crowds. Ever. Lassen receives more snow than anywhere else in California, and is fully open for only 3-4 months out of the year. This means that only 400,000 visitors come through the park each year, with even fewer venturing out into the 79,000 acres of official wilderness.


Backpacking Lassen National ParkDependent on the snowpack and runoff, this also means that we may or may not have snow on the trail. If there is snow, we’ll simply adapt. This translates into wearing snowshoes and hiking shorter distances. If you've never worn snowshoes, it’s a great time to start! It's extremely easy to learn (it’s just like walking) and a lot of fun, too. We’ll even supply the snowshoes.


The Trip:

Our 14 mile backpacking trip starts at the Butte Lake trailhead on Saturday. Arrive at Butte Lake either Friday night or by 10 am Saturday morning. We’ll get ready for the weekend and hit the trail by mid-morning.


After leaving the trailhead, we’ll hike a short distance around the Fantastic Lava Beds before reaching Cinder Cone. Standing at an impressive height of 750 feet, Cinder Cone dominates the surrounding landscape. This volcanic cone was created by a massive eruption in the 1650s. The cone spewed tons of lava bombs and ash over miles and miles, creating the Painted Dunes. The Fantastic Lave Beds spilled out of the base of Cinder Cone, damming Snag Creek and creating both Butte Lake and Snag Lake. If we’re feeling our oats, we can summit Cinder Cone and hike down the other side, obtaining awesome views of the Painted Dunes. We’ll then hike up towards Rainbow Lake, our camp for the night. In total, we’ll hike 3.7 miles with about 500 feet of elevation gain along the way, not including Cinder Cone.


Backpacking Cinder ConeOn Sunday, we’ll enjoy a great backcountry breakfast before breaking camp and hiking 2.7 miles down to Snag Lake, our next campsite. This is an easy day, which opens up plenty of options for day hikes without our packs. We can go on a scenic loop to Horseshoe and Juniper Lakes before returning to camp, or even bag one of the neighboring peaks. It’s entirely dependent upon how adventurous we’re feeling. Either way, we’ll return to Snag Lake to enjoy a gourmet camp dinner and some moonlight socializing.


On Monday morning, we’ll awake to coffee and breakfast as we prepare to head back to the trailhead. We’ll almost circumnavigate Snag Lake before we cross a densely forested plateau next to Ash Butte. In about 3 miles, we’ll reach the southern tip of Butte Lake. We’ll then parallel the calm lakeshore before crossing Butte Creek and climbing our last obstacle of the trip, an unnamed ridge that offers rewarding views of all of the terrain we just covered. 15 minutes later, we’ll be back at the trailhead. In total, we’ll hike about 7.5 miles and gain 400 feet of elevation as we climb the plateau and end-of-day ridge.


backpacking lassen national parkLevel of Experience Recommended:

The Cinder Cone backpacking weekend is an easy to moderate trip, best suited for fit beginners and experienced backpackers alike. This is a great trip to learn how to backpack! You should be in good hiking shape for the weekend: this means hiking 3 days, averaging less than 5 miles a day, with around a 30 pound pack, dependent on what your own level of backcountry comfort entails. We’ll cover a grand total of approximately 14 miles, plus however many additional miles of day hiking that the group chooses. Again, winter conditions will change the character of the trip, potentially decreasing our distances covered while increasing our challenge level.


The Outdoor Adventure Club guides will be cooking up some great meals on the trip. Be ready to eat well as we spend the weekend in the woods, and let us know if you have any dietary considerations. We are happy to accommodate just about any diet.


A thorough trip description will be sent with your confirmation. The details will include when and where to meet, what to bring, and more of what to expect. A carpool list will also follow prior to the trip.


Want information on all of our backpacking trips? Check out our full Backpacking Program.


Where is this trip?

Here's a Google Map to the general area

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Specific driving directions for the trip will come with your confirmed reservation.



  • Experienced guides, certified as Wilderness First Responders
  • A map of the hike
  • All necessary permits for backpacking in Lassen
  • All meals from Saturday dinner through Monday lunch
  • Group cooking gear (stoves, pots, water filters)
  • Bear resistant food containers
  • Group first aid supplies
  • Guided hiking on Saturday, Sunday and Monday
  • A carpool list so you can arrange rides to the trip

A complete gear list will be sent to you with your reservation confirmation. Also, the park charges a $10 entrance fee per vehicle (not included in trip pricing.)


You need to supply your personal backpacking gear: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, pad, appropriate clothing, and personal items. The Outdoor Adventure Club has a supply of backpacking gear available for rent. For a list of available items and pricing, please visit our rental page. (OAC members get free backpack, tent, sleeping bag and pad rentals for this trip, upon request and based on availability!)



Ultimate Members: FREE

OAC Members: $299

Non-members: $375


The Outdoor Adventure Club (OAC) operates with permission and special use permits from Lassen National Park, amongst others, and is a fully insured and professionally operated guide service.



Trip Cancellation Policy


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To Register for this trip(s), please complete the following 2 steps:


Step 1 - Click on the trip registration link below and fill out the form to complete Step 1 of the registration process. Don't forget to return to this page to complete Step 2, payment (which may require closing a tab or window).


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Step 2 - Complete payment information using PayPal.

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If you have any questions about this trip, please email us at info@outdooradventureclub.com or call 415-377-1195.


Private, custom and corporate trips: Any trip on our calendar can be customized and offered to your friends, family or corporate group. Just ask and we'll make it happen.