Brokeoff Mountain Trail: Better than Lassen Peak!

Need to pick between climbing Brokeoff Mountain or climbing Lassen Peak? Both are great hikes, but here are five reasons why I’d rather hike the Brokeoff Mountain Trail than the Lassen Peak Trail.

Brokeoff Mountain meadow just below timberline. Note the extensive talus slope.
Brokeoff Mountain meadow just below timberline

I Prefer Climbing Brokeoff Mountain Rather than Lassen Peak

First off, I love climbing Lassen Peak! There are many reasons why the Lassen Peak Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Most importantly, Lassen Peak erupted violently and spectacularly in the early part of the twentieth century, and you get to see the evidence up close at the summit.

But… I do greatly prefer climbing Brokeoff Mountain (in fact, the Brokeoff Mountain Trail is my favorite trail in all of Lassen Volcanic National Park), so here are my reasons why I like it better than the Lassen Peak climb.

1. Far Fewer People on the Brokeoff Mountain Trail

Everybody who’s in decent shape wants to bag Lassen Peak, the signature summit in Lassen Volcanic National Park, and that’s why there are so many people on the Lassen Peak Trail.

By contrast, the Brokeoff Mountain Trail probably gets less than 10 percent of the traffic of the more famous and popular Lassen Peak Trail.

Brokeoff Mountain: several ponds beside the creek that drains the east side of the mountain, all beside the trail.
Brokeoff Mountain: several ponds border the creek that’s visited several times by the trail.

2. The Brokeoff Mountain Trail Has Greater Ecological Diversity Than the Lassen Peak Trail

Flowers border the trail-side creek that flows below Brokeoff Mountain in Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Creek below Brokeoff Mountain

On the Lassen Peak Trail, you hike past a few mountain hemlocks and whitebark pines, and then you’re above treeline with sparse vegetation.

However, the Brokeoff Mountain Trail passes through a wide variety of habitats. You start in an open forest of red fir that gradually shifts during the course of the hike to mountain hemlock and then whitebark pine. You’ll repeatedly visit a stream bordered by verdant vegetation, including profuse wildflowers, and the stream also feeds several small ponds. There are also multiple meadows that stretch up the mountainside. Finally, you do break above timberline in an area flush with lupines and other wildflowers.

3. The Views from Brokeoff Mountain Are Better!

The summit of Brokeoff Mountain offers essentially the same views as those from Lassen Peak. However, you get them in all directions from one vantage point on the top of Brokeoff Mountain, whereas you have to walk around the perimeter of Lassen Peak to fully appreciate the view.

And, of course, from Brokeoff Mountain summit the star attraction is Lassen Peak itself, in full glory just three miles to the north.

Brokeoff Mountain view: Lassen Peak, plus Mount Diller, Pilot Pinnacle, and Eagle Peak, and other Lassen Volcanic National Park landmarks.
Brokeoff Mountain north view: Lassen Peak, plus Mount Diller, Pilot Pinnacle, and Eagle Peak
Brokeoff Mountain view: Lake Almanor and the Northern Sierra Nevada
Brokeoff Mountain view: Lake Almanor and the Northern Sierra Nevada

4. Brokeoff Mountain Is Closer to the South Entrance of Lassen Volcanic National Park

If you’re coming from Chico, Red Bluff, and points farther south, you’ll enter Lassen Volcanic National Park from the south. The trailhead for the Brokeoff Mountain Trail is at the southern edge of the park, just before the park entrance station and the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center.

By contrast, the Lassen Peak Trail is another seven miles farther into the park, seven very beautiful miles, for sure, but still a factor if you want to get an early start.

5. There’s Good Dispersed Camping on Nearby Lassen National Forest

Camp for Free: Dispersed Camping & Boondocking on America's Public Lands book cover. Free camping in the United States.

I’ve been doing dispersed camping on Lassen National Forest land south of Lassen Volcanic National Park for over 20 years. I love dispersed camping and recently wrote a book about dispersed camping in the United States, so this is an important factor for me. I did dispersed camping in Lassen National Forest both the night before and the night after my most recent climb of Brokeoff Mountain.

Brokeoff Mountain Trail and Lassen Peak Trail Compared: Length and Elevation Gain

Fair warning: the Brokeoff Mountain Trail gains 2550 feet of elevation over 3.8 miles one-way to the summit, compared to 2000 feet of elevation over 2.5 miles for Lassen Peak, so it requires a bit more effort and better conditioning.

The Brokeoff Mountain Trail Is in Two of my Guidebooks

Day Hiking Mount Shasta, Lassen & Trinity Alps Regions. Includes trails in other regions of Northern California: Castle Crags, Russian Wilderness, Marble Mountain Wilderness, Lava Beds National Monument, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Lassen National Forest, and the Redding area.

You’ll find a detailed description and a map for the Brokeoff Mountain Trail in Hike 103 of Day Hiking: Mount Shasta, Lassen & Trinity Alps Regions and Hike 30 of 100 Classic Hikes: Northern California, 4e.

Also see my detailed post about hiking nearby Ridge Lakes and exploring Sulphur Works, and see my post about the best hiking trails in Lassen Volcanic National Park, which also includes links to more posts here on the Northern California Hiking Trails blog.

My Youtube Video of Our 2020 Brokeoff Mountain Climb

My sweetie Stephanie and I did the Brokeoff Mountain Trail in mid-August. This video from my Northern California Hiking Trails Youtube channel shows you all the highlights along the route. If you like the vid, be sure to hit “Like” and also subscribe to the channel and get notifications.

Brokeoff Mountain Trail Topographic Map

Brokeoff Mountain Trail hiking map: includes topographic lines and features, and Forest Lake.
Brokeoff Mountain Trail topographic map. Note: I saw no sign of the old trail that drops southwest down to Heart Lake.

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