Venture out onto the youngest lava flow in El Malpais on the Lava Falls Trail. This cairn-marked trail winds through a geological wonderland of basaltic lava flow features like ropy pāhoehoe (pronounced pah-HOY-hoy), ‘a‘ā (pronounced ah-ah) lava flows, squeeze-ups, pressure ridges, and fissures. Explore a pygmy forest of ponderosa and piñon pine to see the incredible ways life has adapted to this young, unforgiving landscape.
Hiking Cairned Routes
Sometimes the only trail markers along El Malpais trails are cairns: a series of rock piles used to trace a route across the land. Cairns are common on lava landscapes where creating a traditional trail or footpath is impossible because of the extreme nature of the terrain.
Last updated: January 5, 2021