Welcome to Lava Beds Lava Beds National Monument is a land of turmoil, both geological and historical. Over the last half-million years, volcanic eruptions on the Medicine Lake shield volcano have created a rugged landscape dotted with diverse volcanic features. More than 700 caves, Native American rock art sites, historic battlefields and campsites, and a high desert wilderness experience await you!
Spectacular if for no other reason than the history of the place. Be prepared if you are a flag waving white man because this is just one of many places across the continent that we committed murder and genocide. The history of this place is intense as you walk around. Be sure to pick up a trail guide for $1 at the trailhead parking lot.
Two options to visit this historical sites: an INNER loop (a bit under a mile) that goes through the inner defense positions of the Modoc indians warriors (as well as the "living quarters" for their family). This is a dense and intricate network of natural lava trenches, caves and rugged outcroppings. As others have noted, this is no "walk in the woods". There is a reason the Modocs were able to hold off the US Army for so long: this is not easy terrain to wander through. The inner trail (taken clockwise) rejoins the OUTER trail at the place when a makeshift memorial to the Modoc resistance has been erected.
the OUTER look follows the perimeter defenses of the Modocs, with more trenches and caves but, overall, with more of an open feel and may wide views of the plateau around the stronghold. I visited the site late on a slightly stormy June afternoon, all by myself, and the atmosphere of the area was at the same time utterly peaceful and yet loaded with the tragic history behind the Stronghold.
Good shoes/boots and good footing a must!
Note: If history brings you here, you probably know that, couple miles away you can also stop briefly at the site of General Canby's assassination.
A short hike -- under 1,5 miles round trip -- but with good rewards when you make it to the top: sweeping 360 degree views and, if you have time to visit with the ranger(s) at the lookout, a good opportunity to learn more about the area and the duties of those who man the lookout.
Considering the short distance of te hike, the close proximity to the Lava Beds Visitors Center, and the views from the top, this is a good option for anyone a bit pressed by time. The grade is, as expected when climbing a cinder cone, a bit sustained and will give a nice workout to older or slightly out of shape hikers. There are however 2 benches on the way up if you want to catch your breath while enjoying the views of the plateau and the lava flows.
The access is via a short and well maintained dirt road; any vehicle will make it to the small parking lot without problem. As others have mentioned, no facilities.
I went up in mid June and many wildflowers still provide a colorful counterpoint to the stark red rocks of the top, as the trail winds its way around the small summit crater. Many photo opportunities, of course.. or just a good invitation to sit down for a while and take in the beauty of this very special place.
Hot shit! Super nette Rangerin! Hat mir genau gesagt wo es sich lohnt hinzugehen, auch noch Details zur Entstehung der Höhlen gegeben.
Man bekommt Taschenlampen geliehen (kommendes Jahr gibts neue, die aktuellen sind schon ziemlich ausgelutscht.)
Für die komplizierteren Höhlen lohnt sich der Guide mit den Karten für ca 8$.
Ein Tag reicht um das wichtigste zu sehen, man kann aber sicher noch zwei extra Tage draufpacken wenn man alles gesehen und gelaufen sein will.
Also von mir eine Empfehlung!
Pretty cool trail! You can almost feel the history embedded in the niches in the rock formations as you walk through. Unbelievable views, as we had a beautiful, cool day to complete this loop. Might be a bit hard in the heat of the middle of summer, we just happened to luck out with some cool summer days while visiting the area.
Decided to do this hike as a quick stretch / vista view before a winter storm rolled in. It's a quick trail, medium for the incline grade but nothing particularly strenuous given how short it is. Views from the top were definitely worth the drive over as is the red rock trail its self. Just be sure to bring a shell for up top as the wind really rips up there. Maintained dirt road access, small parking lot, no facilities.
My family and I visited Lava Beds National Monument in July 2012. Its an interesting landscape. One hike that we did was Schonchin Butte trail. I chose this hike because I thought the views would be impressive and they were. The hike to the top wasn't too bad. If I remember correctly there were a couple benches on the way up. What made this hike even more memorable was meeting a ranger at the lookout on the summit. He shared his work with us and explained his tools. Being July 4th, he even had my daughter help him raise the US Flag on his lookout. What an experience!
As remote as this National Monument is, I keep coming back to explore it more than any other park. There are many more caves to explore than the one's at the visitors center. You really need more than one day to see it all and should plan to camp overnight. The pertoglyphs are just as fascinating. You will enjoy the area much more in the early spring or late fall as the heat in the summer can be intimidating.
If it wasn't for the historical significance of this site and the fascinating history, this wouldn't be a very good hike. That said the trail alternates between smooth sand and lava rocks that at times form small corridors. Multiple small caves and depressions in the terrain give you a good idea what great hiding places the Modoc indians had during the standoff. Wear good hiking shoes. We did the small loop in sandals and had to very carefully negotiate the lava rock pathway. No time this trip to see the tubes as we were heading north into Oregon. Next time we will explore the rest of the park.
This is a great trail along a, mostly collapsed, lava tube in Lava Beds National Monument. It begins at an asphalt paved trailhead near Skull Cave. The trail itself is smooth and gravel surfaced with only a few small steps to hinder a wheel chair. The side trails that go down into Big Painted Cave and under Symbol Bridge are short, but steep and rocky. The trail parallels the lave tube with views into the collapsed sections. There are interpretive panels to read and lots of pictographs to photograph.
This is descent place to visit. If you are into history n stuff you will like it. There are 2 loops a shorter loop takes you around the place in 0.5 - 0.7 miles. Longer is around 1.7 miles. There are a lot of caves , ambush points and you can imagine how the Indians were able hold off with a very small number of fighters against a significant opposition for 4-5 months.