Cinder Cone Nature Trail is a 4.7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Westwood, CA that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from May until October.
Marvel at Lassen's volcanic landscape from atop the rim of a cinder cone. Located four hours north east of San Francisco this Northern California park might be a little out of the way, but it's a prime destination for seekers of tranquility and those with even just a passing interest in geology. Cinder cones are scattered all around you at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Some are in plain sight and others are overgrown and hidden by forest, but none are more recent and more spectacular than the Cinder Cone that created the Fantastic Lava Beds and the colorful Painted Dunes eleven miles north east of Lassen Peak. Our five and a half mile day hikes takes you to the top of Cinder Cone where you can marvel at a landscape transformed by volcanic activity. Elevation gain: - 800ft (from 6,140 - 6,820ft)
we went up the steep face & cane back via the "bypass" which is maybe the better way.
so the approach is lovely but note that it is like walking in sand and when you get to the cone ascent it changes from sand to deep pebbles (huff puff). keep going it's worth it. if you're in decent shape it's about a 20 min ascent. a couple we spoke with took their time and it was about 40 minutes to do the ascent.
really beautiful & interesting. if it's hot out - know it's fully exposed for the full ascent and at the top.
about 6 miles off road driving to get there - very doable in a regular car but dang dusty.
It is worth it. Sunset was beautiful. wouldn't recommend during hot days
this trail is reason enough to spend a night at Butte Lake campground. the track is loose the whole way, and the last half mile is challenging but you will be very glad to have done it. wonderful views in every direction!
My daughter and I went with her school. We had a blast!! Looking forward to going again with my younger child.
a lot of fun!
Really nice hike. We ended up not climbing the cinder cone, but the view as great. Make sure to look for the painted dunes on your way to the cone. Also, you'll notice a huge pile of rocks on the way - those are the lava beds.
I wrote more about it here: https://guikunigami.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/lassen-volcanic-national-park-cinder-cone/
Great trail, but we went during the wrong month. It was very hot in July. We should have done it in either may or October
Oof! The volcanic gravel/sand is a tough scrabble. It was funny, but not, to see a couple whole sole of a good hiking boot on the trail. I'm not surprised. It was definitely worth it and take trekking poles. There's a nice trail around and down into the cinder cone crater. A trail leading down the backside of the crater provided some amazing views of the Fantastic Lava Beds and Snag Lake.
Standing below the cone, it might look intimidating, but the hike up is really not that bad, as long as you take your time. Once on top, the view is spectacular. This is one of my favorite hikes in Lassen.
Go early. Clouds tend to form around noon on Mt. Lassen. Hiking this early morning will ensure a cloudless view of the peak and a quiet trail all to yourself.
Just a note, the trailhead is at the end of a 8 mile unsealed road. A normal sedan can handle it, but a two door sports car might not.
This is a great hike, even for older kids who want to climb a real volcano. It starts out on an ashy trail, then gets rocky/ashy once you climb the actual volcano; expect to empty your shoes at least once! The views of the Painted Dunes are the best in the park & you can even hike down into the crater. It's got a really neat other-worldly vibe here. And there's the Fantastic Lava Beds, too, & a good view of Butte lake. Also, I thought it was more like 5 miles than 7. I've done this hike many times & will keep returning!
This hike is incredible. From walking along the edge of the lava fields, to trudging up the cone, to descending into the cone itself! What a great experience to stand on top of a volcano and see....no spoilers here!! You'll have to see for yourself. I would definitely say bring a wind proof shell, as even in June, it was blowing about 50 which created a rather chilly experience. I would rate this hike as moderate with the actual climb up the volcano being moderate to difficult. Children and the "not so fleet of foot" should exercise caution and prudence. That being said, don't miss this one
This was my favorite hike in all of Lassen National Park. It is pretty difficult, but not very long. You are basically walking over tiny bits of loose gravel and it really feels like you are walking on sand. When you get to the actual volcano, it doesn't look very high or difficult at first, but the incline is so steep, and the ground is so loose that it becomes very hard, very quickly. Despite this, the view at the top is incredible. For one thing, there is is badass giant crater staring at your, and it was the first time in my life that I've ever seen one up close and personal. The painted dunes below you are breathtaking, and the fantastic lava beds that are behind them are soooo awesome. They really show you the destructive nature of a volcano. It was like looking at geological history right in the face. I LOVED this hike. Everyone should do it!
The hike up is very torturing. The is basically a mountain of volcanic ashes and lose small rocks. Every step is a half step back, and you will start sliding down if you stop. Most people underestimate this trail and don't leave enough room to make it to the top.
The view from the summit is magnificent. The painted dunes are amazing especially during sunset. Start hiking a couple of hours before the sunset and you will get to spend enough time at the top to enjoy the perfect lighting for photography of the dunes.
Also, you can hike into the crater, so spare yourself 30 more minutes to hike down and up!
I've hiked the Cinder Cone Nature Trail twice now. Once in June and once in October. The relatively flat trail to the Cinder Cone is about 1.2 miles and is sometimes a little difficult to follow but its not too bad. Just look for the tracks of the other hikers and stay parallel to the Fantastic Lava Flow. My eight year old daughter hiked the entire trail (we totaled 5 miles in our wanderings) and she says she wants to go back.
The climb up the Cinder Cone is a different story. Hiking in volcanic ash is like climbing in fine sand - it takes some effort. The trail up the Cinder Cone is about half a mile and gains about 500 feet. But the views are so worth it. Don't forget to dress in layers. It might be chilly/windy at the top. At the top of the Cinder Cone, you can walk around the well defined rim and even descend into the caldera if you have the energy to climb back out.
The parking lot near the trail head has pit toilets. The trail head has a few signs describing the area. There are also pamphlets available for $.50 that correlate to signed posts along the nature trail.
Finding the trail head isn't too hard. From Old Station take highway 44 a few miles and turn right at the Butte Lake Campground. A gravel road takes you 5-6 miles to the day use parking area.