Our National Parks are treasures. They are special places set aside so that everyone can enjoy nature, and in my view there are few places as splendid when “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure”.
National Parks are our natural heritage: landscapes like no other, places were we have the chance to view wildlife in their natural habit, trees, flowers, forests, meadows, mountain tops, deep canyons, rivers, lakes, plains, deserts, and so much more. A place to fill our lungs with fresh air, stretch our legs, take flight with our imagination, share togetherness and memories, or find solitude in the quiet of wilderness. Fill our souls.
And from my viewpoint find a little balance to our stressful, plugged in, overworked lives through a taste of adventure in a way that only a National Park can provide. It is the journey not necessarily the destination, or said another way what is important is “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure” and our Nation Parks are a fabulous place to do just that.
Pursuing Balance Through Adventure
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.” -John Muir
Please join me Roger Jenkins as I am “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure” at our National Parks. At least once a year, as a minimum, we need to recharge our batteries in nature and National Parks are a great place to do that. So I implore you if you love our National Parks, then come with me and LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW, and SHARE.
5.5 Miles, 5790’ elevation, 1604’ elevation gain, 3.5 hours duration, rated HARD
One of the Scariest Hikes in America
Zion National Park is one of the most popular of our National Parks with approximately 4.5 million visitors per year. Angel’s Landing is a bucket list type of hike for many people. It is a place of unparalleled beauty with colorful peaks and cliffs, and views that are simply stunning. On top you have a Condor’s Eye View of the gorgeous park below that can only be described as picture perfect.
The hike is a short 5.5 miles, and certainly the elevation gain for a regular hiker is not that dramatic, but what is dramatic is that this is an on the edge hike, exposed areas with drops straight down 1,400 feet. The last portion has chains to hold on to, and they should be held on to for dear life, because death is right beside you. One section known as the Knife’s Edge is just that and has death on both sides. Angel’s Landing is not a hike for the faint of heart, or someone with a sever fear of heights. That being said, if you don’t have a healthy respect for heights then something is wrong with you. Most people will feel a real sense of accomplishment completing this hike and proclaim this is the highlight of any hikes they have ever done.
When I first did this hike I thought to myself, I can’t believe that they are allowing everyday people to do this hike. I wondered why we were not in a climbing harness and clipping in. I saw people in beach sandals, children in tears with their parents trying to coax them on, and some folks frozen in fear. Conversely, I also saw college kids on each other’s shoulders standing on the edge for pictures.
Caution should be heeded, and rightly so, as this is not only “One of the Scariest Hikes in America”, but also “If it is not the most dangerous trail in America it certainly is in the top five”. The reason for these ominous condemnations is that 13 people have plummeted to their deaths from the cliffs of Angel’s Landing since 2004.
My own experience is that being on the edge like this certainly is an adrenaline rush, and if you can do this relatively safety then it is an insatiable high. The beauty of Zion, and in particularly the Angel’s Landing hike, is like no other. It would certainly be a spiritual journey, because it is that magnificent, except for this is a bucket list hike for so many. How many you might ask? About 641 hikers per day are also on this hike with you and that certainly is detracting, but then again there are a lot of spirited, energetic, adventurous people on this hike and that is not only fun, but the enthusiasm is contagious. When you checkout my PBTA YouTube video you will see some of the throngs of hikers, and mind you we were in line before dawn to try to escape the crowds, but certainly it only got more crowded later. When you enjoy the video you will also see the young, healthy fun seekers with smiles brimming from ear to ear.
Obviously if you are safe, take your time, watch your footing this is a very doable hike for people in descent shape. But hiking on the edge is not for everyone, and some may decide that the steep, exposed chain section leading to the summit is not for them and that is fine. Scout Lookout is still a very beautiful hike and the views up and down are wonderful.
So about the hike itself. You will take the tram from the Visitors Center to the Grotto Trailhead from there you cross a bridge over the Virgin River which is lined with greenery and is quite a tranquil spot. You will hike your way to Refrigerator Canyon, which is a nice reprieve from a hot Summer day as it is shady from the enclosed cliffs and greenery making this section quite picturesque. Then it is the infamous Walter’s Wiggles a paved area with a steep incline and 21 switch backs that will get your heart racing. This leads to Scout’s Lookout, (where you will find port-a-potties), and this is the last stop before things get real. The last section is the iconic picture you have in your head of a narrow, exposed, scramble with death defying drop offs, inching your way along the edge of a harrowing cliff that is sometimes slick with a dusting of sand, all while others squeeze by you going the other way.
The pro tip is to get in line at the tram before day break, it is still going to be crowded, but it will only get worse. Also the Summer is the Monsoon Season for the desert and there is a good chance of afternoon Thunderstorms. You do not want to be on the top of Angel’s Landing in a Lightening Storm with high winds, flash flooding or even hail. The day we were there we were down off of Angel’s Landing by late morning, but we did experience an afternoon thunderstorm along the River Walk Trail. We were certainly glad not to be up above on Angel’s Landing at that moment. Make sure you have proper footwear, bring snacks, and plenty of water in a day pack that is secure to your body and not flopping about. Don’t carry a water bottle as you need to have both hands for scrambling. Take it easy, watch your footing, hold on to the chains, don’t do a selfie on the edge for goodness sake, be aware, and most importantly have fun.
When you are finished you will undoubtedly feel some of that euphoria that we talk about ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’. You will have taken in spectacular vistas, got your heart pumping through not only adrenaline, but through physical exertion, and experience a feeling of empowerment on what you have accomplished.
Thanks for joining me on this exciting and exhilarating journey in Utah taking on Zion National Park’s infamous Angel’s Landing, known for being tough, scary, deadly, and extraordinarily breath taking… breathtaking in it’s beauty, exertion, and dizzying heights. It’s on the edge hiking that you will never-ever forget. This was my birthday hike celebration to myself, and my second time to summit this special place. The first time was exactly 5 years ago almost to the day. I did the hike solo the first time huffing and puffing on the Walter’s Wiggles 21 switchbacks, so much so that I sat down to take a break and a young French woman asked me, “Are you okay?!” I guess I have hiked myself into better shape, because it did not seem to be a problem this time. On this my birthday I was accompanied by Roman and my good Hobie Cat Sailing National Champion Friend Tom. We were on our way back from our Lake Powell Houseboat Adventure. It was fun to share the dare. Well, there is always more fun to be had here at ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ National Parks Hiking. Stick around for more by doing these very simple tasks: LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW and SHARE. If you go up to the menu above you will find more inspirational spots to adventure. They are categorized by location and some by activity. Each is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. Do you see the cap I have on in the picture? You can get one at SHOP APPAREL. My PBTA Adventure Wear is top quality and carries the mantra, check it out.
6.5 miles, 5196’ elevation, 1,194’ elevation gain, 3.5 hours duration, rated Moderate (USPS calls it Challenging shouldn’t attempt in heat)
I did this hike in combination with Warren Peak from Black Rock Canyon Trail which starts in the campground with the same name as the trail. I split this up for the post with the thought that perhaps not everyone wants to do a 9 mile hike. As you look at the map I added Warren Peak if you follow the dotted line, and I also did another smaller trail in the area which provided vantage points to take in not only the peak from different perspectives, but the valley and the distant mountains as well.
This is a really great hike. The views are phenomenal. It has everything you would want in a desert scene, the mystical and magnificent Joshua trees for which the park is named, and a variety of desert foliage, lonely peaks, distant mountain ranges, valley, spectacular rocks, not really a slot- but a section that closes in a bit and is quite interesting.
I was only going to do Warren Peak when I started out, but when I saw the trail sign with the name Panorama Loop, well… Loops are always more interesting then out and back, and the word panorama conjured up sweeping desert vistas and in an direction I had not seen.
It did not disappoint. The terrain in some ways is similar in other ways it is a little different. Panorama Peak doesn’t show on the particular map that I was using. When I approached it I thought to myself that this peak look similar in elevation to the Warren Peak that I had just summited and I though that did not seem right that it is not named. But upon reaching the top I saw a summit sign in book so I happily added my name to it’s pages with the mantra ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’.
Joshua Tree National Park is a special place and this hike is an excellent one and a bonus is it is not crowded like some of the other Park hikes. I would recommend doing what I did and combining Warren Peak with Panorama Loop, which makes for about a 9 mile hike, or if that is too long for you then split them up like I did in the post.
Thanks for joining me for a desert trek in famed Joshua Tree National Park. This hike is a fun excursion located in one of the less crowded parts of the park, a nice plus, but it is also a beautiful part of the park to be certain with unusual and varied terrain topped off with the splendid mountains off in the distance to perfectly frame the shot. For more you simply need to LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW and SHARE. Look to the menu above for other wonderful places to hike besides our stupendous national parks, which can get pretty busy. Go to SHOP APPAREL so that you will be comfortable, and well outfitted for your jaunt to the National Park. It is the desert so you will need more than sunscreen. How a bout a PBTA cap? I even have shirts with UPF 50+ Sun Protection! But what is important is that you find some balance from the mundane and the ordinary and JTNP is such a place to be sure. Get out there and Adventure!
6.3 miles, 5,102’ elevation, 1,110’ elevation gain, 3.5 hour duration, rated Moderate (USPS calls it Challenging shouldn’t attempt in heat)
Warren Peak is in the Western portion of Joshua Tree National Park. Two deserts come together in JTNP, the cooler higher altitude Mojave and the lower hotter Colorado desert. This diversity adds to the attraction of the park. Warren Peak is in the more quiet, less traveled Western Portion, the Mojave Desert. The park’s name sack, the Joshua Tree is found in the Mojave and can be enjoyed on this hike.
The hike begins at Black Rock Canyon Campground on the edge of Joshua Tree. The nice thing about starting in the Campground is that there are nice bathrooms. There is parking for a few cars at the end of the campground otherwise there is overflow parking as you first enter the campground.
The trek to Warren Peak is a slight and steady incline. Sometimes the trail is soft gritty sand sometimes it is hard pack. Near the peak is where the incline steps it up dramatically. Once on top the views are exquisite. 360 degree wonderful views of the entire area to include hills and gullies, canyons and distant mountains. I added the Morongo View Trail on to my trip which gave me another angle of Warren Peak and some different views and for that reason I felt it worth the extra half mile.
I will mention that I added the Panorama Loop Trail on to my hike as well, which I feel is the way to do it. That adds both elevation gain as well as make this hike a 9 mile hike. Since not everyone wants to do a 9 mile hike I am breaking it into two different posts: This Warren Peak Hike, and a future post Panorama Loop Trail.
Really nice country and I throughly enjoyed this hike.
Warren Peak Summit
Thanks for joining me out in the deserts of Joshua Tree National Park as I was climbing Warren Peak while ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’. To go out into the solitude of such a place is to discover nature and to discover nature is to discover yourself. This type of self realization can only come about when you have time alone and you are feeling the moment, the type of moment that only nature can bring. For more of these type of moments please LIKE. COMMENT, FOLLOW and SHARE. Our National Parks are but some of the special places that PBTA visits. Checkout the menu for other wonderful locations in the West. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWEDindependently. To help support this site, and to look really good doing it please go to SHOP APPAREL.
From Split Rock: 2.3 Miles, 580’ elevation change, rated Moderate
From Skull Rock: 5.5 miles, 1007’ elevation change, rated Moderate.
This was my second epic hike of the day at Joshua Tree National Park, after enjoying my morning adventure up Ryan Mountain. The map shows that this hike starts at the end of a gravel road, but always wanting to fit in as much beauty and adventure as possible I started at Skull Rock, (that and I didn’t realize at the time that I could have started at the end of a gravel road, lol.) Regardless, I would not have wanted to miss one moment of the Split Rock Loop, which was fabulous with so many fascinating boulder features. I posted these two hikes separately because everyone can do the Split Rock Loop as it is Easy, not everyone can do the Eagle Cliff Mine Trail and putting them together makes the trek longer, and what I cherish… oh so much more adventurous.
The Eagle Cliff Mine Hike is rated as Moderate. The only way I feel that it might be Moderate is perhaps because the first part is easy? Once you start heading up hill I think that it should be bumped up another category. Maybe I thought it should be closer to Hard because I had already done a lot of hiking that day, and that stretch was challenging. It wasn’t long after gaining elevation that you were more or less bushwhacking and boulder scrambling up a rock hill. Since I was always searching for a path, that I didn’t really fine in those spots- I was using my GPS heavily. It is a really cool hike. My GPS told me I needed to squeeze through, crawling under, an opening in the rock once I got to the top. My answer to my GPS was, “Are you frick’n kidding me?“ Okay, game on! Once I drug myself through that crevice the area opened up into a sort of boulder garden. I met some nice hikers that came from a different direction. I will say they were quite helpful in making sure I didn’t miss anything as they were familiar with the spot. I am pretty sure I would have found the Boulder House, which was the home to the Eagle Cliff miner, but then again it was tucked behind some rocks and also pretty much hidden by brush and trees as were the openings to the mine.
That gives new meaning to the slogan “hidden gem”. The Miner’s Boulder House was amazing. I loved how it was constructed, part rough shack and part rock. The artifacts really put a finishing touch on the place regardless if they were the original or not. No matter what they were really old. The whole scene truly captivates the imagination.
Nearby the shack were openings to the mine. They are sealed off so you won’t be doing any spelunking at Eagle Cliff Mine.
Adding to my adventure was the fact that I had used my GPS so much that my phone was running low on battery. I was in a pretty wild area, off the beaten path, in a place where you could easily get turned around and start heading off on some other path, or like I said earlier part of this hike is bushwhacking and boulder scrambling so no trail at all. This led to more questions to ponder. Why didn’t I bring my extra battery power? (Well, it looked like I had plenty, plus I wasn’t counting on having to rely on it so heavily.) As the vibrant golden colors of Joshua Tree began fading away into long shadows self doubt began to trickle in. Why did I wear a cotton shirt instead of my Moisture Wicking High Performance ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure‘ Shirt? With the temperature quickly cooling my sweat dampened tee-shirt was less than ideal. Why didn’t I bring a light jacket? Why did I not pack my emergency space blanket? Why didn’t I have extra food, and more water? (Well, it was in the 70’s during the day… I was thinking it is just a 5 mile or so hike… As it turns out when there is scrambling involved, coupled with searching for the path and then searching for the very things you came on the hike for, being the hidden boulder house and mine, all of this burns a lot of daylight and obviously phone charge.)
All’s Well that Ends Well. I made it back to my car before it was dark, cold, and with the tiniest amount of phone charge left. Let this be a lesson to you, always plan for the unexpected. Keep in mind we can love nature, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will love us back. You would think I would learn from my mistakes see Rescue at Red Rock.
Wow, what an adventure! So much balance found when pursuing profound experiences in a place with so much natural beauty. The excitement of finding the Boulder House sets your mind to wonder. What was life really like back then in a place as rugged and inhospitable as this? Did the lonely miner find his fortune trying to strike it rich? For more adventure in our Wonderful National Parks come along with me by completing these simple undertakings COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW AND SHARE. Besides National Parks there are lots of superb places to adventure and to balance out your everyday existence, just checkout the menu for the many places that PBTA ventures to. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. Don’t get stuck out in the wild wearing cotton, “Cotton Kills”, when you can look great, be comfortable, and carry the mantra ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’. Please visit SHOP APPAREL for your adventure wear needs checkout the top quality shirts, and hats, which also helps support this site.
Mystical, magical, marvelous rock formations. Joshua Tree National Park has quite a few great spots for wonderful boulder and rock formations and this is certainly among the best. Another good spot is Jumbo Rock which is nearby. That one captures everyone’s attention straight off with ‘Skull Rock‘ glaring at you from the roadway and then everyone just bounds off following the signs to the Jumbo Rock area. Leaving the mystical, magical, marvelous boulders and rock formations on the other side of the road relatively untouched and unspoiled by the crowd. A big plus indeed.
I parked at Skull Rock and headed off to Face Rock Trail. By taking this route to Split Rock Loop I add a little distance, but I was rewarded with more of what I came for and that is the rock formations to include ‘Face Rock‘ which is pretty cool, and really looks like a face. Of course the power of suggestion can be just that, pretty powerful. I have seen someone else’s picture of a rock formation called ‘Old Man with Finger in Nose’, and sure enough after that suggestion it sorta looked like an old man with his finger in his nose for crying out loud.
After checking out Face Rock the trail led to Split Rock Loop. There is a gravel road that you could drive to the Split Rock Loop Trailhead if you would rather, which would cut off a mile round trip of hiking to get to this post’s name sake.
Split Rock Loop is a couple miles long and if you are not in a hurry to fit in as much stuff as possible at the park then I would invite you to immerse yourself in this wonderland of boulders by getting off the trail. Wander over and get up and personal with the rock, scamper around that is part of the joy of Joshua Tree.
I connected an additional hike, that being Eagle Cliff Mine, to my hike which added considerable distance, and difficulty to the hike. It is really off the beaten path and thus might not be for everyone, so I will post that as a separate hike.
Boulders and rock, boulders and rock- what fun for the imagination, and a nice way to unwind, forget about the foes of the world for a moment, destress, breath in… breath out… be one with nature. That is what Pursuing Balance Through Adventure is all about. Stick with me there are more JTNP adventures ahead! Be sure to LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE and FOLLOW. If you were transported from one of PBTA’s other social media platforms please note that this is where the others lead, like trickles and stream lead to a roaring river. The YouTube, Pinterest, FaceBook, and Instagram are all just pieces. The ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ Blog is what is complete. If you don’t leave a message, I will never know that you were even here, and that is sad. So please leave your footprints in the snow, speaking of which PBTA visits many extraordinary spots if you will scroll up to the menu and click on PBTA WA Hiking you can find a snow adventure or two, if you click on OR Hiking you can find kayaking on lakes so clear it will blow your mind. Click on NoCal Hiking and see waterfalls that are indeed a fairy tail, and so forth and so on. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. The ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure‘ logo hat, high performance shirt, and neck gator can all be found for purchase at SHOP APPAREL. It is first rate high quality and I know that you will enjoy wearing them and the feeling of really connecting to the outdoors as well as yourself.
Ryan Mountain Trail in Joshua Tree National Park is a very popular and a fantastic hike with terrific views. I think that this is a must do if you are visiting Joshua Tree and like to hike. I have seen it rated Moderate, but the Park Service is calling it Moderately-Strenuous, so I am going with that. Pretty much it is strenuous going up and it is moderate going down maybe even easy. One thing is for sure you will certainly get your heart pumping on the what seems to be a never ending stair master gaining more than 1000 feet in a mile and a half.
Once on the top you have views in every direction of the park‘s rock formations, piles of boulders, desert floor, valleys, hills and the distant mountains. You will see some of the differences in the upper desert, being the Mohave Desert where you see Joshua Trees, and lower and hotter desert known as the Colorado Desert. It is special that there are these two very different ecosystems in the same National Park.
Thanks for joining me, if only in spirit, up the 2nd highest peak in Joshua Tree National Park. There are more JT NP treks to be hiked and more peaks to be bagged so stay tuned by doing these several important tasks: FOLLOW, LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE . Look at my outfit! I am totally decked out in the new ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure” Cotton Tee, Cap, and Face Gaiter get’s yours today at SHOP APPAREL. Heck in the spirt of giving, (with Christmas on the way), buy any two regularly priced PBTA items and then email me at email@example.com, informing me that you ordered, and I will throw in at no additional cost one of the new PBTA Cotton T-Shirts a $20 value! Then once you are geared up go to the Menu above for ideas on were you want to hike. Each of the locations is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently.
A nice stroll through a beautiful desert garden, sun glinting off boulders, rock formations seemingly timeless, sandy wash with greenery, a small slot canyon, distant mountains, just the right amount of mileage, just the right amount of work, some flat, some up and down, a tad bit of scrambling, and a palm strewn oasis to boot… this hike is loaded!
This particular hike is near the southern entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. It is at a lower elevation than other parts of the park. You will not find any of the park’s name sake Joshua Trees in this area, but what you will find while you are “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure“ is lost palms in an oasis.
Most of the trail is hard pack dirt and grainy sand, but sometimes you are in a wash with soft sand. There is also a place you’re working up a gulley with sharp rugged rock with a dusting of grit on it. The trail is easy enough to follow, but I will say there’s a couple times where it’s nice to have a GPS to reassure yourself that you’re on track. The National Park Service rates the hike Moderate to Strenuous, but I think that it is more in the moderate range. The only tricky spot, that is harder, is if you decide to go down into the oasis that is off trail, because there is no trail. That section is steep and can be slippery, and you will want to take care easing your way down.
The oasis is cool because during the entire trek the only place there are any palms are at Cottonwood Spring, which is where the hike begins, and the Lost Palms Oasis, thus the name. Loved the hike, it’s a good one!
Lost Palms Oasis
I had been looking forward to getting back in the desert and especially Joshua Tree. I had not been there in some time. The days that I was at Joshua Tree National Park were perfect. It had been very hot up to this point, as there had been prolonged summer like heat deep in the fall. In So Cal we have what is known as an Indian Summer and it usually is some of our hottest weather, and this certainly was the case this year. The other issue I wanted to escape is the poor air quality that all of the West had experienced because of the Wild Fires and I really wanted to find fresh air. What I found at Joshua Tree was “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure”, just what the doctor order. Desert beauty, solace, clean air, warm but not hot temperatures. A wonderful escape from the busy, rush around existence that we all experience with the added stress of politics, and smoky air… it was a needed break. Thanks for joining me on this hiatus. I invite you to join me more often. I have hopes that you will find inspiration from the thought of adventures in nature, and also that you will get to go out and explore first hand very soon. Please COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW, and SHARE. Check the menu for mountains, lakes, rivers, falls, forests, and deserts in a variety of places that PBTA travels to. Each location in the menu is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. Lastly, get your PBTA Merch at SHOP APPAREL. Where there is currently a SPECIAL DEAL going on.
I backpacked into Echo Lake and set up camp. King’s Creek Falls was one of the two day hikes that I squeezed into my adventure. The other you can read about was Twin Lakes.
I would say that this hike is a do not miss type of an excursion. I did it pretty early in the Summer and there was snow fields covering a portion of the trail. There were people in tennis shoes that had given up on the hike after sinking down into the snow and getting their feet cold and wet. I will say on the hike out we saw someone sink to about his knees. So if you are there early in the season this is not a simple stroll in the park.
The Park had just re-opened from being closed, like most of the other National Parks during the first part of the Covid-19 Pandemic. There were not many people in the Park because of this and that includes Park Personnel, so it was especially nice that the Park Service was able to have some little red flag markers placed so that we could find our way through the snowy portion of the trek. Not all of the trail loop was open due to some trail maintenance, so I believe that our journey was a little longer because of this.
It is a nice hike past King’s Creek Meadow and down to the falls through lush green forest, along the stream, and one spot in particular had a spectacular view of the valley and distant mountains. I met a young couple from Central California at the trailhead. Of course being nature lovers and fellow hikers we had a common bond, as we picked our way through the snow field, almost like an Easter Egg Hunt looking for the next little red flag marker. We chatted away about our adventure at Lassen and the neighboring area. Plus it was most helpful having them film me for my PBTA duties introducing this outing to my audience.
The first thing that we saw was a very tiny little falls and we looked at each other saying this isn’t it is it? It wasn’t and when we closed in on the real falls there was no mistaking it. We got to see the 40’ King’s Creek Falls from the top then there was a viewing area, and we also scrambled our way down a bit of the hillside to get another view and some swell pics.
Like any beautiful falls the tumbling water is mesmerizing and we found ourselves transfixed, almost bewitched by it’s magic. The light mist on our skin, watching the cascading water descend through space, the sound as it plunged to the rocks below, delighting in the smell of damp wood, moss, and earth. All of our senses were alive with the experience.
Thanks for joining me while I was ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ at Lassen Volcanic National Park enjoying the park’s most popular hike, King’s Creek Falls Trail. My adventure was made even nicer by joining a couple of nature loving hikers along the way and experiencing the trek together. Take a moment to COMMENT, FOLLOW, SHARE, and LIKE. If you go to the menu above you will see many more places that PBTA has explored. One such example is in Pursuing Balance Through Adventure NoCal Hiking you will see a couple great experiences right outside the Park: Subway Cave and one of the best waterfalls in California, Burney Falls. Please take note that each location you see in the menu is a separate website and thus needs to be Followed independently. You can gear up for your own pursuit of balance away from the hustle and bustle of the civilized world with PBTA outdoor wear like my cap in the picture at Shop Apparel.
Distance: 8 miles, elevation change approximately 1,200’, duration approximately 6 hours, rated Moderate
I did the hike to Upper and Lower Twin Lakes in Lassen Volcanic National Park as part of a Back Country Wilderness Backpacking Adventure. My base camp was a Echo Lake, so the following morning I set off to further explore the trail ahead. I read about the Summit Lakes Loop after I had already made the plan of using Echo Lake as a base camp and then hiking out each day to do other excursions in the park, but the Summit Lakes Loop sounded really intriguing.
So that you will have all of the information regarding this hike you will want to checkout my previous post Echo Lake which will catch you up on the first portion of the hike from the trailhead at the Ranger Station not far from Summit Lake.
From my base camp at Echo Lake my hike took me through beautiful wooded forest. I made my way across snow areas that covered a portion of the trail, and went past several unnamed lakes, a couple of which were probably more like ponds.
I heard commotion behind me and I spied another hiker. At a quick pace he made his way down the switch backs of the hilly trail towards me. He would be the only person that I saw out in this back country, as it pretty much seemed that we had this extraordinary experience all to ourselves. I hiked a couple miles or so with this new trail friend, Sean a Trail Guide for Outdoors Adventure Club out of the Bay Area. He is a recently retired CAL Fire Fighter and was a pretty impressive guy. Sean had done a couple 200 mile stints along the Pacific Crest Trail and plans on doing the entire PCT next year. It would have been this year, however he thought the resupply could be an issue because of the whole Cov-19 Pandemic Crisis. He is a Trail Angel, meaning he would take in PCT Through Hikers for a night so that they could have a quick respite from their long trek. When he caught up to me he said, “I thought that I saw fresh footprints in the snow.” He was doing the hike that I mentioned, an 11 mile loop of the Summit Lakes. He was scouting the hike as next week he would be leading a group and wanted to get more familiar with it. We talked about me doing the loop with him, however I had only planned on a morning hike to the Twin Lakes and then back to my camp to resupply with additional water and to pick up food before heading out to hike to King Creek Falls.
It was fascinating speaking with Sean, with all the experience he has had on the trail as a Cal Fire Fighter, outdoorsman, and Trail Guide. I told him that I was not used to being in an area where it was an Mandatory Requirement to Backpack with a Bear Canister, which led to a conversation regarding bears. He said that his encounter with Black Bears was that they could easily be scared off as they really didn’t want anything to do with you. He said however, that Grizzly Bears were an entirely different animal. We spoke about how, at least at Lassen Volcanic National Park, the bears did not relate cars with food like they do at, for instance, Yosemite. He recanted a story that while at Yosemite his brand new truck had a couple thousands dollars of damage as a bear tried to get at food, and how a friend’s vehicle had been totaled.
While we are on the topic of bears, I must say that because of the whole Mandatory Bear Canister Requirement and the strong suggestion of carrying Bear Spray, (which of course I did), along with the fact that there was essentially no one in the entire park to include employees, (I had only saw the Ranger at the Park entrance and then she was gone by 4:30 PM), I really had bear on the brain. CheckoutBear Attack! My Worst Nightmare.
While looking for a map to show the Twin Lakes for this article I ran across the below post on All Trails by Backpacker Andrew Shegrud which totally spooked me and thought that I should make my readers aware of it regarding this hike. This incident took place a month after I was at the very same spot.
DON’T GO TO UPPER OR LOWER TWIN LAKE
My girl friend and I set out from Butte Lake Campground on June 30th 2020 for a two night stay at Twin Lakes. The cinder cone and lava beds were really cool, and the lakes are super scenic. We got to the southern side of the Upper Twin Lake, and found an awesome camping spot.
About 5-10 minutes after we set our packs down and started setting up the tent, a 5 1/2 to 6 foot tall black bear approached us. We waived our hands in the air and screamed at it at the top of our lungs.
There was a standoff for about 30 seconds as we continued to yell at the bear, in an attempt to scare him off. The bear was not scared of us, and took one of our packs and ran off with it, then ripped all of our gear up to shreds trying to get to our bear can.
When we safely got back to Butte Lake Campground I sought out one of the Rangers and told him what happened. The Ranger said, “Oh yeah, we’ve heard of several incidents already this year. It sounds like the same bear that is taking people’s packs.”
The reason I’m leaving a 1 Star rating is so that it stands out, and hopefully anyone looking to camp at Upper Twin Lakes sees this! The lakes and scenery is really nice, but so are all of the other lakes and trails in this area. Go to another lake. Take another trail. It’s not worth it. – Andrew Shegrud
I think that the problem with the idea of going to a different lake or trail is that bears roam a pretty big expanse of territory, the male more than the female. You would have to just not go to the park with that idea. The good news is that the bear just stole their stuff and didn’t hurt them. Stuff can be replaced. Still it sounds like a scary experience.
But as far as my hike, the woods, and the lakes they are really beautiful and I throughly enjoyed my outing.
Thanks for joining my trail friend Sean and I as we were “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure“ at Twin Lakes in outstanding Lassen Volcanic National Park. Be sure to FOLLOW, SHARE, LIKE, and COMMENT so that you can take part in the many adventures to come. If you like my beanie than go to SHOP APPAREL, if you are seeking balance and love adventure than go to the menu above for hikes and backpacking all over the West. Each is it own website and thus each needs to be FOLLOWED independently.