The Devastated Area trail is located in Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California. This short trail takes visitors through some of the aftermath from the early 1900’s eruptions from Lassen Volcano. 

Hiking the Devastated Area Interpretive Trial

The Cascade Mountains are a beautiful range of peaks that run along the west coast from Northern California to British Columbia. The range consists of twenty prominent mountains. Lassen Peak is the southern most mountain and was formed by a dome volcano. The volcano last erupted during a series of eruptions that took place from 1914 to 1917.  The largest of these eruptions occurred during May of 2015. 

The May 2015 eruption could be seen as far as 150 miles away as it spewed ash more than 30,000 feet into the air. Ash from the eruption fell as far as 250 miles away. The hot steam and lava melted accumulated snow which resulted in devastating and super-heated mudflows. The large pyroclastic flow traveled northeast along Lost Creek to the isolated towns of Old Station and Hat Creek Valley ten miles away. Near the blast itself, over three square miles were completely destroyed.  

The Devastated Area Interpretive Trail takes hikers through a half mile section of the destroyed area near the base of Lassen Peak. Several placards along the trail offer information about the early eruptions. Much of the landscape in the area is still scarred but some pine forests have started to regenerate. However, vegetative ground cover is scant at best. There are many large projectile rocks that are scattered throughout the trail. The most popular of them being the “hot rock.” This rock was photographed by a local settler Benjamin Loomis who captured the eruption through a series of photos. The rock stayed hot to touch for several days after being expelled from Mount Lassen’s belly.

On A Personal Note

Although being a short trail, this is a nice introduction to some of the history of Lassen Volcanic National Park. I was here during the late spring and there was still a lot of snowfall throughout the park. The view looking at Lassen Peak covered in snow was nice. There was also a deer along the trail.  

Do you have any updates to the hiking trail or want to share your hike/pictures? Please leave a comment below.

  • Overall Difficulty: 25% 25%
  • Overall Views: 80% 80%
Devastated Area Interpretive Trail Quick Facts :
  • Elevation: 6,504 feet.
  • Elevation Gain: 115 feet.
  • Estimated Distance: 0.5 miles.
  • My Actual Distance: 0.3 miles. 
  • Estimated Time: 30 minutes.
  • My Time: 19 minutes.
Devastated Area Interpretive Trail Directions:
Open in maps. Cost is admission to Lassen Volcanic National Park. An America The Beautiful pass will also work. This destination in the park is well marked and off of Lassen Peak Highway. Because of the elevation and northerly location, this area gets an abundant amount of snowfall. Snow can start accumulating as soon as September and end as late as May. During winter this area is closed for a significant amount of the winter. Please check with the National Park Service for current road conditions. There is a small parking lot at the site of the trailhead. During the busy season this area may fill up quickly after the morning hours. 


Devastated Area Interpretive Trail Pictures:
Who The Devastated Area Interpretive Trail Is For:
Novice Hikers: I’ll be honest, this is more of a stroll than a hike. This will be an easy trail for even those people who aren’t accustomed to hiking at all. It’s a perfect trail for people who don’t have the option of doing longer hikes. 

Advanced Hikers: This is a very short trail but it has a great view of Lassen Peak. Include this trail with some other short trails. 

Expert Hikers: Those with a lot of hiking experience will likely not find these views to be that satisfying. However, the history behind the trail is neat. 

It’s always a good idea to be aware of what type of hiking level you’re at.

Best Time Of Year To Hike Devastated Area Interpretive Traill:
This is an area that experiences all four seasons. There can be a significant amount of snowfall and ice along the ground during the winter. It’s best to check with the National Park Service for current road conditions. During the winter the road that leads to the trail is usually closed for a significant amount of time. Late spring is a wonderful time to view this trail while Lassen Peak stands tall and covered in snow. Shade is sparse along the trail from the thin pine forest making a resurgence after the eruption. Summers will be mild at this elevation with cool nights. 

It’s always a good idea to check the weather before heading out on a hike.

Devastated Area Interpretive Trail Conditions:
This trail is in excellent condition, maintained by the National Park Service, and very well marked. There is a minimal amount of elevation gain. Components of the trail will be loose volcanic dirt. There is no poison oak along the trail and no concern for rattlesnakes. Some larger wildlife like bears and deer could be encountered along the trail.