Butte Lake-Snag Lake-Cinder Cone Loop is a 12.5 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near McArthur, CA that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and camping and is accessible from June until October.
A moderate trail winding around two lakes, Butte and Snag Lakes, through the cinder fields, and up and over the Cinder Cone. This trip makes a great overnight backpacking trip. This a fairly easy hike, with gentle elevation gain around both Butte and Snag Lakes. The trail is well marked, easy to follow, and rarely busy. Once you circle around both lakes, the landscape opens onto the cinder fields. Take note to follow the established trail only in order to minimize impacts on the cinder fields. Travel across the cinder fields and straight up the backside of the the Cinder Cone. This is by far, the most strenuous portion of this trip. Elevation gain up Cinder Cone is only about 800 ft. but hiking up the cinder is like walking in find sand. Make sure to take the time to explore the top of Cinder Cone before decending down the other side and making the roughtly mile hike back to the Butte Lake Campground.
This was our first official backpacking trip. We opted to go the "back way" and headed to the east side of butte lake and saved cinder cone for the second day. We got to butte lake at 4ish and started our trek. We put in 7 miles and set up camp on the southern tip of snag lake. A beautiful spot right on a little Creek with a tiny relaxing sounding waterfall. Great for cooking and filling up water wise. We saw all of 1 person on the hike in. We saw lights in the night across the lake. Snag lake is a great area but say the drought is doing a number on it as well. The second day we headed out towards the cinder cone. Took a lot longer due to the tough walking conditions in the soft Sandy cinder. The hike up the back side is not for the faint of heart as its so dry and not packed you slide back every step you take. Good boots and poles are a good idea. However the views and sense of accomplishment are well worth it! From the top we came down the front and headed back to butte. Was a wonderful first trip. We are doing Canyon Creek for labor day up in the alps.
This is a well marked trail. The Cinder Cone is incredible. This is a GREAT backpacking trail. We made the mistake of doing the entire loop in one day. Absolutely exhausting!! Would love to do it again as a two day.
An amazing time we had. Started out hiking to the top of Cinder Cone to get a birds eye view of our Backpacking trip. Stunning Views from the top then headed around the Painted Dunes for some spectacular photo opportunities. Due to the drought the lakes were very low but still a fantastic hike with several different landscapes to view and enjoy.
Great hike. One of my favorite overnight hikes. We went clockwise. There are a few mosquitos, especially at the southern end of Butte Lake. But, once you get to Snag lake, the mosquitos are gone. There is a nice breeze around Snag and awesome places to camp. We had one of our best backcountry camping experiences on the shore of Snag Lake. Then, we hiked the cinder fields and up Cinder Cone. Great views and good workout. The entire hike is very beautiful and you see something new around every corner.
Holy Moly. Mt. Lassen is in view around every corner. This is an amazing area to visit. We detoured to "Widow Lake" for the first night, it should be called Mosquito Lake. Too many mosquitos which made us nervous for the second night. But after a glorious day hiking through volcanic sand, up and down mountain sides and alongside beautiful alpine lakes, we camped on the beach at Snag Lake and enjoyed one of the best camping nights we've ever had. Do this hike. It's lightly traveled and worth the difficult drive to get to it. And Cinder Cone was quite the experience, something I'll never forget.