Before it “broke off,” Brokeoff Mountain was a much bigger mountain, part of mighty high and wide (11,500 feet, 12 miles in diameter) ancient Mt. Tehama.
These days Brokeoff Mountain is 9,235 feet high, and beckons the hiker with great views and a great trail. The hike to the summit on Brokeoff Mountain Trail is 7.2 miles round trip with 2,500-foot elevation gain.
Numerous natural processes combined to shape Brokeoff Mountain and nearby Mt. Diller into the remnant hulks they are today: volcanic eruptions, sculpting by glaciers, slippage from the major fault underneath the area. (For more geological background, walk the nature trail through the Sulphur Works, located just 1.5 miles up Highway 89 from Brokeoff’s trailhead.)
From Brokeoff’s summit is a commanding view, nearly equal to that of famous Lassen Peak. North-by-northeast extends a prominent ridge capped by Mt. Diller, Eagle Peak, Lassen Peak, and beyond to Chaos Crags. Far to the northeast lie the little-known Warner Mountains. Dominating the northwest horizon is snowy Mt. Shasta. To the west lies the Sacramento Valley and, farther west, the Coast Range. The Sierra Nevada extends southward.
The trail to the top is, itself, attractive. Wildflower -strewn meadows, a mixed forest of pine, fir and hemlocks, and striking rock formations can be savored en route. Solitude seekers will enjoy the very light foot traffic (compared to nearby Lassen Peak) on this trail.
Directions: The trail to Brokeoff Mountain is located off Highway 89 in the southwestern part of the park, just south of the Entrance Station and Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center. From the junction of Highways 44 and 89, it’s five miles to the trailhead via the latter highway.
The hike: Begin near the creek that spills from Brokeoff’s shoulder to eventually join Mill Creek. Somewhat confusingly, the trail trends south for a few hundred yards, away from the mountain, through wet and willow-vegetated terrain before curving west, then northwest and entering white pine forest. Your creekside route passes some intriguing lava landscapes and a pond. A mile and a quarter out, you can leave the trail and follow the creek 0.1 mile to shallow little Forest Lake.
Better and better views are your reward for the ascent as the path breaks out into more open country near timberline. A final mile’s climb through an alpine zone of rock and stunted trees brings you to the summit.