Snow Continuing to Block Traffic Through Lassen Volcanic National Park

It likely will be the weekend before traffic can traverse Lassen Volcanic National Park, as deep snow continues to cover portions of the main road, according to park officials.

Park Superintendent Darlene M. Koontz says road crews have cleared snow beyond the Lassen Peak parking area and are proceeding downhill towards Kings Creek Meadows.

“We anticipated snow removal in this downhill section at the rate experienced in past years, and along this portion of the road we normally have less than ten feet, but there are depths of 12 to 15 feet, which has increased the time to finish clearing snow off the remaining six miles of roadway,” the superintendent said Friday.

The scenic park road is open 12 miles to the Summit Lake Area from the Manzanita Lake Entrance and 7 miles to the Bumpass Hell Trailhead parking area from the Southwest Entrance. Parking at these closures is somewhat limited and RVs and trailers are being advised not to go beyond the Devastated Area on the north side as turnaround space is limited.

The first 1.3 miles of the popular Lassen Peak Trail is open to the ‘Grandview’ location, and over-snow travel on skis and snowshoes is required for those wishing to reach the summit. The over-snow travel will be challenging for those wishing to reach the summit, according to a park release. Hikers will find that to climb Lassen Peak they might need to have an ice axe, crampons, and helmet for their safety, the release added.

Elsewhere in the park many trails still are snow covered, including Bumpass Hell Trail, but visitors can enjoy hiking along trails in the Manzanita Lake, Warner Valley and Butte Lake areas.

All campgrounds in the park, except for the Summit Lake and Juniper Lake campgrounds, are now open. Park officials anticipate that these remaining campgrounds will open in the next couple of weeks.

The road to Juniper Lake also is still snow-covered and not passable by automobiles. The Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center and Loomis Museum are open daily and visitors, will find concession-run facilities at the visitor center’s Lassen Café & Gifts, Manzanita Lake Camper Store & Cabins and Drakesbad Guest Ranch in full operation.

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Several quotes here from Wikipedia:
After the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) began reassessing the potential risk of other active volcanic areas in the Cascade Range. Further study of Cinder Cone estimated the last eruption occurred between 1630 and 1670.The Lassen area was first protected by being designated as the Lassen Peak Forest Preserve. Lassen Peak and Cinder Cone were later declared as U.S. National Monuments in May 1907 by President Theodore Roosevelt.[4]
Brokeoff Mountain, Lassen Peak, and Chaos Crags, from left to right. The area of Lassen Peak that was lost during the 1914-15 volcanic event is visible in this picture, encompassing the sliver of snow.Starting in May 1914 and lasting until 1921, a series of minor to major eruptions occurred on Lassen. These events created a new crater, and released lava and a great deal of ash. Fortunately, because of warnings, no one was killed, but several houses along area creeks were destroyed. Because of the eruptive activity, which continued through 1917, and the area's stark volcanic beauty, Lassen Peak, Cinder Cone and the area surrounding were declared a National Park on August 9, 1916.[3]
The 29-mile (47 km) Main Park Road was constructed between 1925 and 1931, just 10 years after Lassen Peak erupted. Near Lassen Peak the road reaches 8,512 feet (2,594 m), making it the highest road in the Cascade Mountains. It is not unusual for 40 ft (12 m) of snow to accumulate on the road near [url=http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/wiki/Lake_Helen_(Lassen_Peak)]Lake Helen[/url] and for patches of snow to last into July.
In October 1972, a portion of the park was designated as Lassen Volcanic Wilderness by the US Congress (Public Law 92-511). The National Park Service seeks to manage the wilderness in keeping with the Wilderness Act of 1964, with minimal developed facilities, signage, and trails. The management plan of 2003 adds that, "The wilderness experience offers a moderate to high degree of challenge and adventure." [5]
In 1974 the National Park Service took the advice of the USGS and closed the visitor center and accommodations at Manzanita Lake. The Survey stated that these buildings would be in the way of a rockslide from Chaos Crags if an earthquake or eruption occurred in the area.[3] An aging seismograph station remains. However, a campground, store, and museum dedicated to Benjamin F. Loomis stands near Manzanita Lake, welcoming visitors who enter the park from the northwest entrance.
After the Mount St. Helens eruption, the USGS intensified its monitoring of active and potentially active volcanoes in the Cascade Range. Monitoring of the Lassen area includes periodic measurements of ground deformation and volcanic-gas emissions and continuous transmission of data from a local network of nine seismometers to USGS offices in Menlo Park, California.[6] Should indications of a significant increase in volcanic activity be detected, the USGS will immediately deploy scientists and specially designed portable monitoring instruments to evaluate the threat. In addition, the National Park Service (NPS) has developed an emergency response plan that would be activated to protect the public in the event of an impending eruption.

Thanks for the update. Heading up there this weekend and staying at the Manzanita Lake campground. Hope the main park road will be open by then. The progress reports on the LVNP website are outdated at this point.

Years ago, I hiked Lassen Peak when the road and the parking lot was open, but the summit trail was officially still closed. We did not exactly follow the (snow covered) trail, but simply used the terrain to make a safe ascent, mostly on the ridge, where there was only little snow left. The weather was fair, almost closed overcast but no threat of rain or storm, though there was some light rain later in the day long after our return, so the hike was fun. For the way down we used shopping bags as improvised sledges, sliding down the slopes.

In the end I recommend to make up your own mind if you use a trail, officially open for the season or not. This does not apply to trail closures for specific reasons, but in the mountains you should always know how to decide for yourself, neither is an "open" trail necessarily safe, nor the other way round.