Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Mount Harkness Fire Lookout Trail Loop ↔ Lassen Volcanic National Park ↔ Summer Hiking Series

Climbed any mountains lately? Well, after this hike, I can proudly say that I have!

mount harkness fire lookout

At just over 8,048 feet, Mount Harkness is my biggest hiking accomplishment yet. We opted to do the loop that took us by Juniper Lake on the way back. It added a couple miles to the 4 mile hike, but the lake was so pretty with wildflowers growing on the shore that it was worth the extra effort.

mt harkness fire lookout

Right away when we started the hike (in mid-July), there were huge snowbanks blocking the path and we almost turned back, fearing the trail was still covered in too much snow to traverse. I'm glad we forged ahead because the payoff on this hike was absolutely incredible. There were several times when we had to climb over huge mounds of snow and we actually lost the trail a few times and had to rely on GPS and tree markers to guide our way. At one point, I feared we might get completely lost and have to spend the night in the forest!

Mt. Harkness trail loop Lassen Volcanic National Park northern California

Miraculously, we prevailed and made it to the top of Mount Harkness where the views are 360 degrees of pure breathtaking beauty. As a writer, I can find inspiration in just about every location I visit, but the feeling of standing on top of the world and looking down at the trees was something I've never experienced before.

hiking trails northern california

From the fire lookout, you can see Lake Almanor, Lassen Peak, Mt. Shasta, Juniper Lake, Cinder Cone, as far as Nevada to the east, the Coast Range to the west, and the Three Sisters to the north. This is a staffed fire lookout and we enjoyed visiting with the volunteer for a while, talking about birds and solitary life on the remote mountaintop. (We were the first visitors he'd had in 2 days!)

northern california travel blog

After experiencing panoramic views of this magnitude, I wonder if hiking Lassen Peak could possibly offer a comparable (or better) view. The couch potato in me says no way and the ambitious hiker says let's find out...

*Hike Highlight: Hubby saw a bear as it ran away after we must have startled it coming down the trail.

*Hike Downside: I did not see the bear and only felt the ground shake and heard the rumble as it ran away into the forest. (How it didn't hear my Darth Vader hiking breathing from miles away will forever remain a mystery to me.)

Here's the link to Lassen's page for more information about hiking Mount Harkness.

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Let's go on an adventure!

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