According to most thru-hikers, the PCT through Lassen National Park sucks. The highlight is going a few minutes off the trail to see the Terminal Geyser. Although it's interesting, it's nothing compared to the wonders of the route I recommend. The official route was designed for pack animals, which can't do the alternate route I outline below.
My alternate route is longer, has more climbing and road walking than the official route. However, the scenery is well worth it. It's a crime to walk through a national park and not see anything noteworthy or memorable. This route sees the best of what Lassen has to offer. You won't regret it. Click on the pictures on the right to see what I mean.
To do the same route, start by downloading the free map of Lassen National Park (pop up).
I'll describe the route from the Northbounder's perspective, although I did it southbound. Water is plentiful throughout the journey, except on Lassen Peak.
Need a shortcut? A variation after step #10, would be to road walk to the trail that heads north near the Devastated Area at Hat Lake. From there, head northeast for 10 minutes on a paved road, pick up the trail that basically goes north and connects with the PCT. I didn't try this, but it's a good option if you're in a hurry.
Obviously, southbounders can just reverse the directions. By the time southbounders get to Lassen they will have mastered the science of reading guidebooks backwards!
Lastly, I'm under no illusion that this route is original. I'm sure a few billion people have done this alternate route before me. However, it's not in the official PCT Guidebook, I haven't seen a web page about it, and I didn't meet a thru-hiker who had taken an alternate route through the park. Therefore, I want to spread the good news that there is a better way to hike through Lassen than the official PCT. Always hike your own hike, so if you're a purist, call me an idiot and stay on the official PCT.
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