The Tricky Trek to the Summit of Lassen’s Cinder Cone

The 700-foot Cinder Cone in Lassen Volcanic National Park was formed from scoria or gas-charged lava rocketed into the sky during a volcanic eruption

Lassen Volcanic National Park can be accurately described as both a geologist’s wonderland and an adventurer;s paradise. The hike to Cinder Cone combines both characterizations. A notable geological feature, the 700-foot Cinder cone was formed from scoria or gas-charged lava rocketed into the sky during a volcanic eruption. The Fantastic Lava Beds as well as the Painted Dunes, which flank Cinder Cone, also serve as a reminder of the volcanic origins of the area.

Distance: 5.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

After a gentle hike for the first mile or so at the beginning of the trail, prepare for the strenuous climb to the top of the cone. As you climb, be on the lookout for views of Lassen Peak, Chaos Crags, Prospect Peak, Snag Lake, the Fantastic Lava Beds and the Painted Dunes. At the top of the cone, you have the option of traversing down into the cone’s crater (highly recommended). Cinder Cone is a must-hike for frequenters of Lassen or those with an interest in our region’s geology.

Directions to Trailhead: Head East on CA-44 until you reach the junction with Butte lake Road, aka Forest Route 32N21. Continue South for seven miles to Butte Lake Campground.

LVNP Park Info:

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.

For more, visit:

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California


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