Hiking Cinder Cone

View of Cinder Cone and the trail climbing up the right side.

Start: Butte Lake parking area
Round Trip Distance: 4 miles
Round Trip Time: 3 hours
Elevation Change: 846 ft
Elevation: 6,061 ft - 6,907 ft


This challenging trail allows visitors to experience the wonder of Cinder Cone Volcano first hand. A leaflet for the Cinder Cone Nature Trail is available at the park visitor centers and the trailhead. Numbered posts on the trail correspond to stops in this leaflet that explain various features along the trail.

The sandy trail climbs gently at first, bordered by woodlands on the right and Cinder Cone's lava flow known as the Fantastic Lava Beds on the left. The trail steepens as Cinder Cone comes into view. At 1.2 miles, the trail reaches a fork at the base of Cinder Cone. Look to your left (south) here for the first views of the colorful Painted Dunes. Be sure to take a break in the shade of the surrounding Jeffrey Pines before following the trail to the left (south) and beginning the heart-pumping climb to the top of the cone. As the trail slowly circles around to the south side of the cone, Lassen Peak comes into view. The trail then continues to the top where climbers are rewarded with views in all directions. Prospect Peak, Lassen Peak, Snag Lake, the Fantastic Lava Beds and the Painted Dunes are all clearly visible. A separate trail continues down into the crater of Cinder Cone.

The Cinder Cone trail follows a portion of the Nobels Emigrant Trail. This trail was the second route, after Peter Lassen's route, used by emigrants to travel across what is now Lassen Volcanic National Park.

The Butte Lake parking area is located off of the Butte Lake road in the northeast corner of the park. The Butte Lake area is accessed from highway 44, approximately 24 miles east of Manzanita Lake. The Cinder Cone trailhead is located on the southwest side of the boat ramp for Butte Lake.

Last updated: March 31, 2012

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