Bumpass Hell, located inside Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the hottest Hydrothermal volcanic parks in the world. At 322 degrees Farenheit, (OUCH) the mostly acidic high-velocity steam coming from Big Boiler are not safe for bathing.
As the story goes, Bumpass Hell was named after an early settler who severly burned a leg after falling into a boiling pool, so If you want to keep your extremities I would not advise going off the boardwalk to test the waters.
At an altitude of 8000 feet, towering red fir trees line the trail for shade. The one and a half mile, one hour hike (depending on who you are physically) is a gradual climb that is rocky and narrow in places.(don’t look down) Flip flops and sandals not recommended! Really?? You know who you are!!
A 100 foot descent into the volcanic park will lead you to a boardwalk that has an overlook to the ponds. The far part of the boardwalk is under construction at this posting so the walkway ends without being able to continue on to the upper part of the Fumarole that I hear leads to another turquoise pond.
You can start to smell the sulfur about half way there. (smells like rotten eggs…just sayin..)
With about a quarter mile left of the hike, you will come to an area with a bench that overlooks the entire volcanic area. This may be enough for some, (huff and puff) but I highly suggest that if you came this far, you should experience it close up. Your almost there and it’s all downhill from here!!! Remember though you have to walk back up…good butt exercise!
The basin is filled with turquoise steaming pools and beautiful multi-colored rocks and soils that have been stained brown, yellow, orange and terra cotta by the minerals and sulfur.
The 8000 foot altitude can make this hike seem harder, and I readily suggest you take plenty of water and a couple of snacks.
Photographers can plan on a good hour or more while down there, and a tripod is recommended for DSLR’s.
We were treated to an amazing sunset on the way back as the sun lit up Lassen Peak with red and orange color. We made it back to the car with last light of the evening. (flashlight optional)
The parking lot was packed with motorhomes and hikers when we arrived at 3pm, and by the time we got back to the car we were the only ones there. We tailgated a picnic dinner and watched the sky turn dark and headed back home.
Note:This August 16th 2015 marks Lassen Parks 100th Anniversary.