The Manzanita Lake Area (5,800 elevation) consists of gentle terrain and scenic vistas. It offers the easiest routes for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the park. Vehicle access in the park is limited to the Southwest and Manzanita Lake areas in the snowy winter and spring seasons (usually December through April). A parking area is located adjacent to the Loomis Plaza, which offers 24-hour restrooms with water. There are no visitor services in the Manzanita Lake Area November through mid-May.
Small hills on the northern shore of Manzanita Lake and in the Chaos Jumbles Area can be fun with small children or those new to sledding. Steeper terrain can be found at the popular Eskimo Hill snow play area in Lassen National Forest, located 1.2 miles east of the park turnoff on Highway 44/89. Sled with caution; sledding is the number one cause of visitor injury in the winter season.
Manzanita Lake and Reflection Lake Loops
Both routes provide excellent views of Lassen Peak and Chaos Crags. Neither route is recommended for skiing. Snowshoes may be necessary with deeper or fresh snow. Use caution and stay off lake ice, it may break under the weight of a human. Do not assume that it is safe because others before you may have walked onto the ice. Start the Manzanita Lake Loop from the southwest end of Loomis Plaza and circle the lake in either direction. Begin the Reflection Lake Loop at the shore across the highway from the Loomis Museum and circle the lake in either direction. It may be necessary to follow the park highway for a short section of the lake edge closest to the road. View more ski and snowshoe routes in the Manzanita Lake Area..
Other Snowshoe and Ski Routes
The snow-covered park highway from the Manzanita Lake area is the most popular cross-country ski route in the park. This route offers a gentler and more gradual climb than the snow-covered highway route in the Southwest Area. There are no groomed trails in the park, however ski tracks often last between storms along this well-shaded corridor. The first destination on the highway is the Chaos Jumbles Area. Head up the highway route for 1.7 miles to an open area of stunted trees with excellent views of the Chaos Crags volcanic domes. View more ski and snowshoe routes in the Manzanita Lake Area.
Visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park in the winter/spring snow season involves risk. You can reduce your risk by being prepared in the following ways:
- Plan for winter driving conditions including ice or snow hazards. Visit the Cal Trans website for current highway conditions.
- Be prepared for winter conditions at high elevation in a remote area.
- Choose a route that is appropriate for your skill level and ability.
- Practice avalanche safety if traveling beyond established routes or in steep terrain.
Improve everyone's safety and enjoyment by adhering to the following winter etiquette recommendations:
- Do not walk on ski tracks. Footprints and snowshoe tracks create hazards that make skiing more difficult.
- Snowshoe parallel to the ski track. Using a separate track ensures snowshoers remain clear of downhill skiers.
- Yield to faster skiers or downhill traffic. Step to the side to allow skiers traveling downhill to safely pass. In all other cases, yield to those traveling uphill, as they are working harder and have the right of way.