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Brokeoff Mountain

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic NP Links:

August 31st, 1999

7.4 miles
2585 vertical feet
Total Time: 4:13

Rating: 9/10

Directions:   View Driving Map

There was only one other car in the parking lot when I started up the Brokeoff Mountain trail at 8:24am. The sky was completely blue. I couldn't have picked a better day.

I crossed the road and entered the bushes at the bottom of the trail, an elevation of about 6650 feet. Water rushes down over the trail at one point. Even though I was close to the park road, I soon felt very isolated. It was a very peaceful morning. It wasn't long before I had a nice view of Lassen Peak to the northeast.

Lassen Peak from the Brokeoff Mountain trail

After the bushes come forests and small lakes. I really enjoyed walking through some of these forests. I can't really explain why, but they just seemed peaceful and open. Maybe it's that the trees were light in color -- not too dark, not foreboding. I didn't really worry that a bear would jump out from behind one. The trees also aren't spaced too close together, and the forests are small. Unfortunately, I didn't think I could capture the way I felt about the forests in a photograph, so I didn't take any.

A stream flows near the trail, and a large meadowy area includes a nice display of wildflowers, along with a view of the summit.

Wildflowers in front of Brokeoff Mountain

As the trail continues higher, the views get better. Soon I had views of not only Lassen Peak, but also the green slopes in front of it, and part of the park road.

One of my favorite views of Lassen Peak, from further up the trail

I saw several deer while hiking on the trail. One of them noticed me coming up the trail and slowly started walking over to the shade, away from the trail, lest I bother it. He did let me take several pictures before finding shelter, though.

At about the 8000 foot level (1200 feet from the top), I met the owner of the other vehicle. He was coming down from the peak. He said the views were "fabulous" and that it was a "nice little walk." I was sure that he was right. I also knew that I'd have the trail completely to myself now. In fact, during the entire hike, I would only see 7 other hikers, and just the one on the ascent.

The trail curves around the southern side of the mountain. As it does so, more views open up. The steep slopes below are covered with greenery and thick forest. Soon I had views of the coast range. I could see that while it had started out completely clear, clouds were beginning to move in from the west. None of them looked threatening, however, and it would still be hours before they reached me.

Though I stopped several times to take pictures (even taking the time to use my tripod), I made good time. Soon I was gawking at the view from the ridge near the summit. From here I had an incredible view of Lassen Peak and all the peaks in between Brokeoff Mountain and Lassen Peak. I was looking straight down at some of the tree tops hundreds of feet below - a bird's eye view, if you will.

Lassen Peak as seen from ridge near summit

Closer view of the trees below

After taking numerous photographs, I made the short walk up to the summit, reaching it at 10:30am. Brokeoff Mountain (elevation 9235) is the Tehama county highpoint. The summit is completely flat and about the size of a very large living room. There was nothing to sit on except the chair that I'd brought up.

Sitting on the summit

Besides the views of Lassen Peak, I could clearly see snow-covered Mount Shasta far to the northwest. The summit allows a complete 360-degree peak experience. Although the views to the south and east are less compelling than those to the north and west.

Mount Shasta

The park road as seen from the summit

While I hadn't had any weather radio reception in camp, it worked fine at the summit. The broadcast didn't tell me anything significant. The clouds continued to move in slowly, but I wasn't worried. Eventually, though, I decided I would have to descend if I ever wanted to do the other activities I'd planned for the day, so I started my descent at 11:10am.

The sloping backside of Brokeoff Mountain; Coast Range in the distance

Soon I ran into a pair of hikers coming up the trail. Then, at the 8600 foot level, I met GPS man -- a hiker hauling GPS equipment up for the NPS, mapping the trail. He mentioned something about using a base station to compensate for the random errors of civilian GPS. Basically, it meant the GPS he was carrying my have the altitude off by 500 feet, but it could be corrected when he returned.

Swirling clouds making their way from west to east

At the 7900 foot level I encountered another lone hiker coming up. After that, I figured I would have the trail all to myself again. It was getting later in the day, and I figured not many people would want to start this late.

Near the bottom, though, I did run into a pair of backpackers coming up the trail. They said they were camping at Forest Lake. I didn't mention that I hadn't seen anything that might have resembled Forest Lake. Perhaps it was too far off trail, or it had been overtaken by meadow.

I reached my car a little after 12:30pm. It was a thoroughly enjoyable hike. I'd done the hike partly because it was the Tehama county highpoint, and partly as an acclimatization hike for Lassen Peak. However, I found that the hike was beautiful in its own right -- one of my favorites. A hike with a memorable summit experience, and one I'd love to do again sometime.

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