A Great PlaceI would appreciate constuctive critisism, so anybody with expirience posting mountain pages, please vote and comment.
You can't judge a man by the color of his skin, and you can't judge a mountain by its size or height. Sure, massive mountains like Shasta, Fuji, Kilamenjaro, Denali, etc. are immensly immpresive, beautiful, and fun to climb. But small mountains are also almost as, if not as, great as huge massifs.
The above is proved by the eastern section of Lassen Volcanic National Park. One hike in the area and you will be captivated by its immensly beautiful scenery: from views of Lassen Peak, Brokeoff Mountain, Mount Diller, Eagle Peak, and chaos crags, to blue and clear lakes, to shady and relaxing forest, to the impressive Cinder cone, Lavabeds, Fairfield butte, and Crater Butte.
If you ever visit this area, you will remember it for the rest of your life.
Crater Butte is an old, forested, and small mountain, but it is spectacular in its own way. Like Cinder cone, the popular mountain that lies to the north of Crater Butte, it is short, steep, and has a magnificant crater. The shortness and steepness cancel each other out, so this is an enjoyable and rewarding detour from the two trais that intersect at its south-west base, no matter what your experience or fitness level is.
There is a pool in the crater, called crater pool. This pool is shallow, and unless it is reached in the mid-summer through early fall, it will either have snow or be plauged with misquitos.
On the north side of the mountain,below a dip in the crater rim, lies a large plateau, which may have once been like the fantastic lava beds are today. on the wesdtern edge of that dip there is an interesting area comprised of slate like rock, and grass, something very unusual for Lassen volcanic park, much less a cinder cone, no matter how old or degraded the scree heap is.
Although small, this mountain is challenging to climb, because the slopes are angled at 35 degrees and you are climbing on loose cinder. You will be rewarded, however, with impressive views that you would expect more from Brokeoff than a cinder cone.
Views from the true summit, located on the Eastern rim, include Juniper Lake, Horeshoe lake, Saddle Mountain, Mount Harkness, Cinder cone, Prospect peak, the crater and Crater Pool.
You can see Lassen Peak, Brokeoff Mountian, Fairfield butte, Mount Diller, Chaos Crags, and the rest of the park from the true summit as well, but the veiw is better from the western rim. The veiws make this climb much more rewarding than a first impression from the base gives. I strongly reccomend this as a hike if you are visiting the park for multiple days. If you are doing this in late summer/early fall conditions, a hike down into the crater might be worth it for a short and brisk swim, but any other time the misquitoes are horrendous, especially around bodies of water.
To the west of the mountaion lies the pacific crest trail, which intersects the trail coming from juniper lake at the South-west base of the mountain.
The best way to ascend crater butte is to leave the juniper lake trail just east of the mountain, travel north until you reach a small gully that will lead you up to the the old lava beds. from there, climb until you reach the gap in the rim, and travel east along the rim to the summit, which lies on the East-North-East side of the peak. Total round-trip distance is about 8 miles from the trailhead. Count on 3+ hours round trip for a day hike.
The mountain is much more than a glance at the map, or in reality from its base, can give. I regret that during my trip I did not take any pictures of the whole mountain.
Take I-5 South from Redding to Red Bluff. At Red Bluff take 36 East to Chester Where there is a road leading into the Park. Go on that road to a gravel road that goes to Juniper Lake Campground. Go on this Road to the end where there is a trail that goes to the PCT and continues on past it. Get off on the east side of the mountain, go around to the north side and ascend.
A widerness permit is required for overnight trips. You need a park entry permit even for a day hike, which costs money for entry to the park (a Golden Eagle Pass or Lassen and Whiskeytown Annual pass may be used for park entry).
The wesern rim of the mountain is as good as any place for sleeping. there is a small pool in the crater that will provide enough water to survive. It's also possible to camp on the plateau north of it. There is mid-sized lake called hidden lake on the eastern side of the plateau, about two miles North-East of Crater Butte.
Standard wilderness equiptment (including map, compass, food, water, filter, stove, Lots and Lots and Lots and Lots of Deet, etc.). If in the winter, snowshoes/skies are advised for the extended approach, and crampons may be wanted for the actual climb, as it is very steep, and even just 500 vertical would be hard with snowshoes.