|Difficulty||1-5 Beginner through advanced|
|Elevation change depends on route chosen|
|Navigation||Road, map, and/or compass|
|Time||Short to full day|
|Snowmobiles Use||Not permitted [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area.]|
|USGS Topo||7.5' series, West Prospect Peak, Reading Peak|
|Start||Devastated Area located 9.5 miles east of Manzanita Lake Entrance Station.|
Ski tours beginning at the Devastated Area (1) offer easy access to the heart of Lassen Park's backcountry and afford an opportunity to explore and enjoy the beauty and solitude of the area. The Devastated Area is only accessible by vehicle for a short time during the ski season, but the opportunities it affords make the planning well worth the effort.
Throughout the winter months access to these backcountry areas require many miles of skiing beginning from either the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center located one mile past the Southwest Entrance Station or the Manzanita Lake Ranger Station. Even an accomplished skier would find a one-day tour into these areas long with no time left for exploration. Therefore, during the winter season snow camping is the only way to immerse oneself in the delights of these areas.
The onset of spring, however, brings with it a different picture.
Many feet of snow may still cover Lassen Park Road at the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center (southwest) end, but the smaller accumulation of snow on the road at the Manzanita Lake Ranger Station (north) end disappears much earlier. When the snow conditions for cross-country skiing become marginal at the north end, the National Park Service plows the park road to the Devastated Area thereby creating the perfect starting point for cross-country skiers interested in venturing into the backcountry. Good conditions for skiing last for another month or so.
The date the plowing begins depends on the snowpack. In general, the plowing begins in late March or early April. Before making a long trip, contact the park service to verify that the road to the Devastated Area is open. Unfortunately, no camping is permitted at the trailhead. In some years the Manzanita Lake Campground is open for car camping at about the same time the road is plowed.
Skiers of all abilities will find excellent touring opportunities beginning at the Devastated Area. Beginners can explore the easy terrain in the vicinity of the parking area or ski on the snow-covered road. The very level 2.8 miles on the road to Summit Lake is a popular choice.
The opening of the road to the Devastated Area makes day tours into the backcountry beyond Summit Lake reasonable for intermediate skiers. This area is filled with perfect terrain for touring, and magnificent vistas of monolithic Lassen Peak, the cliffs of Reading Peak, and the park backcountry to the east and north. The Beyond Summit Lake tour describes one alternative.
Once the Devastated Area becomes accessible by vehicle, only 18.6 miles of Lassen Park Road remains snow-covered. With longer spring days, easy route-finding on the road, and firm snow, a trans-park tour on the road becomes a reasonable objective for more skiers. If you have two groups of skiers, one beginning from each end, you can swap keys in the middle of this tour thereby simplifying the logistics. Refer to the Lassen Park Road From Southwest Entrance and Lassen Park Road From Manzanita Lake Ranger Station tours for more information.
More advanced skiers can explore the flanks of Lassen Peak. A very interesting tour can be created by combining the Terrace Lake-Shadow Lake Cutoff tour, the Paradise Meadow Cutoff tour, and a section of Lassen Park Road into a loop. This loop takes you up near the steep cliffs of Reading Peak. When planning this tour, be aware that you may have to get wet to cross the West Fork of Hat Creek in the spring time.