The start of Paradise Meadows Trail can be found across the road from the Hat Creek Trailhead parking area. Paradise Meadows Trail starts off through the fir forest with thick undergrowth. Although near Hat Creek, it is not close enough to the creek to hear it at the trail start.
Climbing gradually, the trail follows Hat Creek upstream, heading toward the creek, which can soon be heard and seen cascading down through the fir forest. The trail continues upstream, next to the cascading creek, and comes upon a cute waterfall at the 1.25-mile mark.
Just after passing this waterfall, at the 1.3-mile mark, is Paradise Meadows Spur
, a very short spur trail that takes one to the lush green (in June) Paradise Meadows, with a stream flowing through it. A side trip to Paradise Meadows is well worth it.
After passing Paradise Meadows Spur
, Paradise Meadows Trail crosses a branch of Hat Creek and climbs up out of the dense fir forest. As the trail climbs, the trees thin, and grass and wildflowers (in June) replace the dense undergrowth. Views of several mountains emerge including Badger Mountain, West Prospect Peak
, Prospect Peak
, and Hat Mountain to the northeast. Continuing to climb, Lassen Peak
emerges to the west as the trail runs through alternating sections of green manzanita groundcover and grasses, always with stands of firs.
At the 2.7-mile mark Paradise Meadows Trail meets Terrace, Shadow and Cliff Lakes Trail to the left (east). Passing Terrace, Shadow and Cliff Lakes Trail and continuing to climb, now close to 8,000 feet high, snow patches can linger on Paradise Meadows Trail into July, making it a bit dificult to spot the trail's path under the snow. Carefully following the trail for another 0.2 miles brings one to the road where Paradise Meadows Trail ends.
If one doesn't mind some road hiking, a beautiful hike from the Summit Lake Trailhead parking area is Terrace, Shadow and Cliff Lakes Trail, this Paradise Meadows Trail heading northeast (a right turn onto it), and then about 2.5 miles on the road back to the Summit Lake Trailhead parking area.
Firs. Dense creekside undergrowth, grassy meadows, manzanita groundcover, and wildflowers (June) especially lupine including narrow-flowered lupine, one of the few yellow lupines (most are purple to blue), and some columbine.