Day 4 of my recent road trip! After hiking Tehama County's South Yolla Bolly, I wanted a change of scenery from the coastal summits. On my big bucket list was Brokeoff Mountain, a summit of Lassen Volcanic National Park. Truth be told, my interest was strictly related to its status as a California County High Point (Tehama County). Unlike several other county high points, this is a fantastic peak. If you climb one mountain in Lassen Volcanic National Park, climb the namesake. However, if you climb two, put Brokeoff Mountain on the list.
Getting to Brokeoff Mountain's Trailhead
Compared to my previous posts, this is a very straightfoward drive. Its about 1 hour away from the Red Bluff/CA-26 Exit off I-5. In fact, simply drive 50 miles up this road to the trailhead which is just before the main entrance to Lassen Volcanic National Park
Although the trailhead lies outside of the gate, you still must pay the entrance fee. If you don't have a park pass, just drive up to the gate, pay your fee and turn around.
There's parking for about 2 dozen cars at the trailhead. I don't think this area routinely fills up outside of busy, holiday weekends in the summer. When I came, the weather was great and I had no trouble with parking.
Here's the route I took:
Brokeoff Mountain: Trailhead to Forest Lake Area
Overall, this is a straightfoward out-and-back trail. Its steep and the altitude is considerable however there's no real routefinding issues. At 7.4 miles, well-condition hikers finish the trail in about 1/2 a day while less experienced take about 3/4ths of a day.
Its never a bad idea to pack some traction such as microspikes for a hike like this- snow frequently persists to July at these altitudes
Starting at the obvious trailhead just across the parking area, I began the consistently steep hike to Forest Lake, 1/3rd of the way to the summit. The first 2 miles are well shaded but very wet- there's a half dozen creek crossings and plenty of opportunities to soak my boots. Although the path was easy to follow, there were some makeshift bridges crossing the streams which caused me to double back at times.
At around 8,000 there were sections of snow which I easily skirted around. Abundant shade and tree cover likely keeps the snow present through the summer in wetter years.
After 1.3 miles I made the final significant creek crossing which wasn't far from Forest Lake (although I never actually saw the lake).
Forest Lake Crossing to Brokeoff Mountain Summit
The next 2.2 miles consisted of continuous climbing, switch-backing and ever expanding views of the Northern Sierras and Central Valley. The shade I enjoyed earlier disappeared and I reapplied plenty of sunscreen. My pace naturally slowed as I felt the thin air kicking in.
The final 300 vertical feet are undoubtably the best of the hike. The trail crests along the knife-edge ridgeline below Brokeoff Mountain's summit and nearly every major feature of the National Park is visible. On the summit itself, Mt Lassen's size and prominence becomes quite apparent-
There was no summit register at the top so I just enjoyed the view from my 26th county high point. Eventually I made my way down, completing the hike in less than 5 hours.
One final note if in the region- don't miss out on a visit to Burney Falls State Park, a gorgeous waterfall relatively close to the North Entrance of Lassen Volcanic National Park.