Butte Lake Campground to Cinder Cone and back
(5 miles, +1,000/-1,000 feet).
Last night we drove down to Old Station to spend a couple of days in Lassen Volcanic National Park on our way back from the eclipse. We were originally going to stay at Crater Lake, but the Spruce Fire has caused lots of trail closures there. So Lassen it is!
This morning we decided to take a hike to a Cinder Cone that formed the Fantastic Lava Beds, a formation that is just 400 years old. It’s interesting to see such a young volcanic formation.
The hike started at Butte Lake Campground, and soon we were hiking right by huge mounds of black broken lava rocks that reached up to 100 feet high in some places.
We found a little side trail that headed into the lava and explored a little bit before returning to the main trail.
After about a mile, we got our first peek at the 700 foot cinder cone that we would be climbing.
As the cone came more fully into view, we could see the wide trail snaking up its side to the top.
Cinder is very tough to walk on and even harder to climb on. The 700 feet felt like much more as we went 3 steps forward and 2 steps back with each effort.
When we finally reached the top, we were treated to marvelous views in all directions. And as a bonus, the cinder was more compacted making for easier walking.
Pasta Jay wanted to hike down to the bottom of the caldera and I joined him. He was fascinated with some orange rocks scattered among the gray cinders that looked green to him.
We ate lunch on the rim and I made one more round, taking some pictures as the sun came out.
The way down was even steeper, and the slipperiness of the cinder forced us to make little switchbacks as we descended.
As we neared the bottom we got some really nice views of Lassen over the Painted Dunes.
Soon we were back at the base of the Cinder Cone and we had to climb back up as we circumnavigated.
We made it back to the intersection where we originally climbed up the Cinder Cone and then walked the mile or so downhill back to the trailhead. Pasta Jay and I celebrated with a dip in Butte Lake.