Mount Helen with Helen Lake
Helen Lake with Brokeoff Mountain
Mount Helen, located just south of its famous larger neighbor, Mount Lassen is nice side treat of a summit. It is named after the famous Lake Helen located on the eastern slope of it. Though the mountain is not as popular as others in the region Mount Helen is definite a worthy destination in its own right. Though very close to Lassen this mountain has a completely different character than that of Lassen Peak. Mount Helen is not nearly as popular as Mount Lassen and most of the time you will find solitude of Mount Helen while Mount Lassen is being highly visited (while the trail is open which is only a couple days a years due to trail reconstruction).
The Scramble up Helen
Eastking Scrambling Down
The major reason while the summit is seldom visited is because Mount Helen has no organized trail. The summit is true Class 2 scramble from the Lassen parking area and there is no organized boot path up this mountain. It does require some bouldering and maneuvering through talus and other large boulders. Some of the rocks are solid but some other are not. These boulders are completely different from Mount Lassen large amount of scree. The true summit here is not quiet so obvious when your on the ridge but we determined the true high point to be right in the middle of the ridge. Unfortunately there is no summit register on the summit.
Mount Helen does contain excellent views of many of the peak in Mount Lassen National Park including Mount Lassen, Brokeoff Mountain, and Eagle Peak. The views are pretty much 360 so remember to bring a camera. Time wise from the car to the summit is about 30 minutes to an hour round-trip and it contains an elevation gain of 500 feet. So if you are comfortable with Class 2 to 2+ boulder scrambling and have some time after Lassen Peak than Mount Helen is the perfect peak for you.
Mount Helen Reflection
FROM REDDING AND THE CINDER CONE AREA: Go east on Route 44 about 60 miles. From there merge right south on Route 89. Once past the gate head south on past the Cinder Cone area and the Summit Lake Camping Area and continue aboue 20 miles to the obvious trailhead on the righthand side. It will just be over the height of land.
HEADING FROM THE SOUTH (BROKEOFF-BUMPESS HELL AREA: From Red Bluff go on Route 36 east toward Mineral. Once past Mineral look for signs for Lassen on your left hand side. Make a left (north) on Route 89 and head into the National Park (toll). Continue all the way up to about 12 miles from the turnoff to the obvious Lassen Peak trailhead on your right hand side.
Mount Helen's East Face
Lassen Peak is a National Park and required a $10 weekly pass, $30 yearly pass or $80 Golden Eagle Pass to enter.
Map of the Route
Mount Helen Map
There are a lot of camping areas within Mount Lassen National Park. For more information on that here are some links.
Mount Lassen National Park camping areas
It is strongly advised not to attempt to bivy on Mount Helen no matter what your approach is due to it rocky summit. However if you do you will want to pick a wilderness permit
at one of the ranger stations.