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Lassen Volcanic Wilderness

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A mountain slope with trees
Library image #4378: Brokeoff Mountain and Lassen Peak


The United States Congress designated the Lassen Volcanic Wilderness (map) in 1972 and it now has a total of 78,982 acres. All of this wilderness is located in California and is managed by the National Park Service. The Lassen Volcanic Wilderness is bordered by the Caribou Wilderness to the east.


In May of 1914, Lassen Peak began a seven-year series of eruptions including a humdinger in 1915 when an enormous mushroom cloud reached seven miles in height. Today, the Lassen Volcanic National Park serves as a compact laboratory of volcanic phenomena and associated thermal features (mud pots, fumaroles, hot springs, sulfurous vents) with Lassen Peak (10,457 feet) near the center of the park's western half. Lassen Peak and its trail are non-Wilderness, but almost four-fifths of the park has been designated Wilderness, a land of gorgeous lakes teeming with fish, thick forests of pine and fir, many splendid creeks, and a fascinating hodgepodge of extinct and inactive volcanoes.

Most of the park below the 7800 foot level is comprised of mixed conifer forest including white fir, red fir, Jeffrey pine and lodgepole pine. Species that are typically found in these forested areas are black bear, mule deer, marten, brown creeper, mountain chickadee, white-headed woodpecker, long-toed salamander, and a wide variety of bat species. Above 7800' the habitat becomes one of limited stands of Mountain hemlock. Species that occur here include Clark's nutcracker, deer mice and various chipmunk species. Above the Mountain hemlock zone is the subalpine zone which is comprised of very sparse to no vegetation. Species found in this habitat include gray-crowned rosy finch, pika and golden mantled ground squirrel. Other minor vegetation communities occur in the park. Montane chaparral, in scattered stands, can be found at lower elevations and drier aspects. Dispersed within forest communities, low stands of pinemat manzanita connect individual stands of red fir and lodgepole pine. Species that can be found in these habitats include dark-eyed junco, montane vole, and sagebrush lizard. Seasonally wet meadows are also common in valley bottoms, along streams and lake margins. Pacific tree frog, Western terrestrial garter snake, common snipe, and mountain pocket gopher can be found in these areas.

Best of all, this mountainous country remains relatively uncrowded by California standards. At least 779 plant species and numerous animals have been identified here. The eastern border of the Lassen Volcanic Wilderness is shared with Caribou Wilderness, and one trail crosses the boundary. About 150 miles of trails snake through the Lassen Volcanic Wilderness. A 17-mile-long section of the Pacific Crest Trail crosses from north to south.

Planning to Visit the Lassen Volcanic Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Lassen Volcanic Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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