Terrace & Shadow & Cliff Lakes : Lassen NP
When you think of Lassen Volcanic Nation Park, you may typically think of hiking up Lassen Peak. You may even think of hiking out to Bumpass Hell to see the crazy geothermal activity out there. Of course, there are a lot of other trails in the park from waterfalls to lakes and peaks, but those are the popular highlights.
This hike is one of the lesser known ones, but it is a great hike to hit two or three lakes without much effort. This trail starts off nine miles from the southwest entrance, or 21 miles from the northwest entrance. There's no parking lot, just a wide shoulder and a small trail sign - it is easy to miss. This is not a trail that you'd likely discover if you weren't looking for it. There were two cars parked there and we saw no one out on the trail. The trailhead here ends up splitting off to a couple of different hikes. If you are looking for something secluded, this might be just what you're looking for!
The trail is four miles round trip if you go to all three lakes (Terrace, Shadow, and Cliff Lakes). We only made it to the first two because a thunderstorm rolled in. We ended up trekking back quickly after reaching Shadow Lake. It's only one mile to Terrace Lake, another 0.6 mile to Shadow Lake, and 0.4 miles from there to Cliff. The reviews we read said that Cliff was the "ugliest" of the three, so we weren't too upset that we had to turn around.
From the road, the trail starts out with a pretty steep descent. The trail is easy to follow, but not as well maintained as a more popular trail would be. After 0.2 miles the trail splits. Going left will head out to Hat Lake, while right heads toward Terrace Lake. The trail remains rough and rocky, with a few switchbacks, down to a meadow that leads right up to. the lake. This lake is beautiful. No sandy beaches, but it is grass lined on one side and cliff lined on the other.
The trail continues around the lake and there were still snow banks along the edge. From here, the trails goes up where you can see part of Shadow Lake in the distance. Before we continued on to Shadow Lake, we stopped and took off our boots to get in the water.
The water was cold, but also refreshing! We expected to see some kind of wildlife around this meadow and lake, but all we saw were some tiny fish in the water.
We continued on to Shadow Lake, but started to hear roaring thunder with big grey clouds looming, so we decided to turn around and head back. The rain never caught up to us, but we enjoyed the thunder rolling on our entire hike back to the car.
The best part of this hike was that it was really isolated. If you want to get away from the crowds, this is a great option. Not too strenuous, but with great reward (especially if you feel like taking a dip in a lake).