The trail through Bumpass Hell begins along Highway 89 across from Lake Helen. The trail leads three miles southeastward from the trailhead to Cold Boiling Lake. Interpretive signs along the route tell visitors about the various natural features in this area, which is the largest thermal area in the park.
Begin this hike at the Bumpass Hell Trailhead, which lies at 8,150 feet. The trail begins by gaining a few hundred feet in elevation in the first half mile. It reaches 8,400 feet then descends slightly into the Bumpass Creek drainage, of which Bumpass Hell lies at the head.
A boardwalk leads visitors over the hydrothermal area complete with bubbling and steaming pools. Interpretive signs through this area describe the geologic and human history of the area. Other signs warn hikers to remain on the trail due to unstable soil conditions. (Mr. Bumpass lost his leg after falling into a boiling pool.)
Beyond Bumpass Hell the trail leads southward contouring the western Bumpass Creek canyon wall. Less than a half mile from the hydrothermal area the trail turns eastward and descends to cross the inlet stream to Crumbaugh Lake. The trail levels after crossing the stream and traverses the head of the North Arm Rice Creek valley. The trail enters an open area that surrounds Cold Boiling Lake. The lake lies a mile and a half from Bumpass Hell.
To return to the trailhead follow the path above described. The return hike will involve approximately 800 feet of elevation gain in three miles. The portion of the trail from Bumpass Hell to Cold Boiling Lake is rarely used. If you hike it during the week you may find yourself alone in the wilderness.
Directions: From Northwest Entrance, Drive southward 23 miles on the Lassen Park Road to the trailhead for Bumpass Hell.
Elevation: 8,150 feet
Ending Elevation: 7,440 feet
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