Following the Stink to Bumpass Hell in Lassen Volcanic National Park
Hiking the 1.5-mile Bumpass Hell Trail to reach its eponymous hydrothermal pools is almost too easy. Kids and grannies stroll it with as much ease as seasoned outdoorsmen, so it’s crowded, crowded, crowded here, unlike some of the more serene trails at this underrated national park in California’s northeast corner. But experiencing nature with the masses has its upsides, because well-traveled trails justify the building of wooden boardwalks that make it possible to safely watch the gurgling hot pools at trail’s end. (Before those boardwalks, back in the 1800s, Mr. Bumpass was said to have fallen in and burned the Bumpass Hell out of his leg.) The noxious steam is reminiscent of rotting eggs and high school chemistry. But unless you have a scratch-and-sniff camera, your photos will show off the moonscape sans stench.