Over 900 feet of elevation gain make this a moderate day hike, but the pay off is a nice cool dip in Crags Lake!

Manzanita Lake campground is located about 1/2 mile past the Northwest entrance of Lassen Volcanic National Park.  The trailhead is located just before the campground sites about 0.1 mile off of the main road and marked with a sign (including a  map) and a few parking spaces.  

The trail starts out fairly simple alongside the bustling Manzanita Creek before turning northward at about 0.5 mi.  The meadow to the left is speckled with fir trees and their burnt remains, mossy branches, and jumbled rocks. Once the creek is completely out of sight, the trail veers to the left and crosses over a smaller creek.  The terrain is rocky, but manageable.  

The trek continues through newly blossomed wildflower fields and burnt remains for another 0.5 mi, leaving any sign of water behind. Here, for the first time, the Chaos crags come into view  just before the start of the main ascent (and bulk of the mileage) through a series of switchbacks.  This is the most challenging part of the hike but also the most heavily forested (which allows for great shade!)  At the top of these switchbacks, Crags Lake is just a short rocky descent away.  There is no blazed trail for the descent to the lake, but with careful maneuvering it is the least of your worries. The lake is a sparkling emerald-blue cocktail and perfectly cool on a hot summer day.  Keep in mind this lake can evaporate as early as mid-August so despite the heat, I definitely recommend hitting this trail during the Summer. 

It is fairly common to see a rockslide coming from the Crags, so it is best to stay near the lake and refrain from attempting to "climb" the chaos crags.  Just sit back and witness their majesty from the safety of the Lake. After some well-deserved relaxation, start the ascent up the rocky wall and continue back to the trailhead on the same path.  

Pack List

  • Lots of water (3L minimum)
  • Energy snacks
  • Sun hat
  • Hiking boots
  • Camera
  • Swimsuit
  • Sunscreen
  • Packed lunch (for chillin' by the lake)
  • Insect repellent
  • Trekking poles
Show More
RT Distance 3.8 Miles
Elevation Gain 915 Feet
Activities Chillin, Photography, Running, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Summer
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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