Lava River Cave

MODERATE 120 reviews
#16 of 166 trails in

Lava River Cave is a 0.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Flagstaff, Arizona that features a cave and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
0.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
16 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

cave

rocky

The Lava River Cave is a natural formation remaining from a lava tube. The entrance to the cave is a rapid rock covered decent that "levels off". The cave floor is the cooled waves of lava that once flowed; its very hard and uneven. There are some tight spots when crouching is required; large backpacks should be left at the surface. At the end of the main cave is a small cave just big enough to sit in; not for big guys or the claustrophobic.

hiking
11 days ago

One time chance to hike an underground trail that is totally different. Fun trail but you NEED good lighting because it's pitch dark inside the cave. You can only see where you point your light. Cell phones lights are not recommended because they won't last long enough. You need your battery to last on the way in as well as your way back. Lose your battery power and you won't be able to see your hand in front of your face and you'll need someone to rescue you.

hiking
1 month ago

Very interesting and worth the stop. Brought a 5 year old and 2 year old who had their own headlamps. 5 year old loved it and had no problems; this might not apply to all kids of the same age. 2 year old had to be carried essentially the whole time. Not ideal and made the walk very slow and very difficult at times, but we weren’t going to miss the chance to see it.

Bring headlamps for your whole party. Wear a couple of layers, it’s cold inside.

1 month ago

Go PREPARED. Not recommended for little kids under 8. I saw so many family suffering because they had to carry their babies, didn't have HEADLAMPS/LIGHTS, COLD WEATHER JACKET or Proper BOOTS. The last one is important. It is ROCKY. I'm talking rocks that unexpectedly move, fissures and huge boulders to SCAMBLE(CLIMBING) I enjoyed it with my partner but watching the people have such a bad time cause they didn't research what is involved... well let's say we are going to these hikes WAY EARLIER.

GO EARLY and have a good time. take you time and watch your head as well as your footing. Be SAFE. This cave is not developed at all. It is a natural tunnel formed by lava.

It is cold all the time so don't let the name fool you. 30F when you start down and 40F at the end.

Go left at the fork (which is a loop) if you don't feel like crawling too much. The end is unnecessary CRAWLING to nothing so we didn't really bother but it could fun for you.

Get in and really be careful going down. Yea it doesn't go that STEEP the whole way but most of the walk is still very hard, you must be AWARE because you feel like you are stumbling in the dark.

Still try to enjoy it and BE KIND to others in there as it gets busy. You and your own are not the only ones who exist. Keep a good attitude and see it as symbolic.

Please. Teach your kids to enjoy life's challenges even in the dark. Everything is as rewarding as you make it out to be. Remember that. Respect nature or it will kick your ass if you have a bad attitude. Not only that, the energy stays there and affects others whether you believe or notice it or not.

Thanks.
Tim

3 months ago

You park in the middle of a forest, walk a bit and BAM! You’re standing over a half-million year old Lava tube- it’s pretty crazy to think about! Anyway, the hike itself can be slippery and since it’s dark & cold down there, make sure you bring a headlamp and some layers. Well worth it, a must-do hike in Flagstaff.

hiking
3 months ago

I really should click the mountaineering option lol. The walk in is lots of huge rocks. So foot placement Is important!
BRING A HEADLAMP. You'd rather have your hands to balance yourself.
It was extremely beautiful and I'm so flavored went! It's .75miles one way under the tunnel according to the legend. I timed my way back out and with a few picture stops, it took 48min out...
there are some sections you have to duck to avoid hitting your head.

NOT dog friendly. Some lady tried bringing her dog in and when I heard it crying and whimpering because he didn't want to go in because it's so dark and lots of rock climbing down into the cave, I asked "did you see if this is dog friendly?" She responded "were from Colorado he's done worse" she didn't even go in and then later as I'm in the cave I see her behind me... no dog. Don't make your baby suffer

4 months ago

This is a good and fun excursion for older children and family, but respect for the wonder of its origin has waned considerably. Noisy and heavily trafficked.

hiking
4 months ago

Please be prepared for this hike. While it is amazing, it is not “easy.” You should have hard hats ($10 at Lowe’s) and headlamps ($8 at Lowe’s). The beginning is a steep descent into darkness and loose rocks. In January the rocks were not wet. Apparently during the summer that is an issue. Have at least 3 light sources in case one fails. There was blood from people hitting their heads without protection. The rocks are jagged so wear hard soled hiking shoes. It was 45 degrees inside. Dress warm. We encountered people with only cellphone lights... bad idea. If the phone dies, you are in total darkness.

4 months ago

My daughters, 4 and 6, loved this one...rocks are tough as you enter, kinda steep but not too bad.

5 months ago

Fun hike! Definitely different from the traditional hiking experience. Bring a headlamp and dress for cool/cold temperatures.

5 months ago

Lots of fun with a group of friends.

5 months ago

Beautiful! Worth the hike!!

6 months ago

Fun!

6 months ago

Cold, other worldly place
Awesome!

hiking
8 months ago

i loved this cave really amazing took my daughter 9 and my sissy 15 they had a blast I didn't want to leave flaggstaff in general.

hiking
9 months ago

This is a neat place but once you've done it you don't have to do it again. wear good shoes and bring a good headlamp

hiking
9 months ago

awesome experience. dogs definitely cannot go in the cave. we did try with our two dogs but its way to rocky. boyfriend and i took turns doing the cave trail while the other watched the dogs. CHECK THE MAP. i got lost and disoriented in the cave and so did several other people.

hiking
10 months ago

Great hike, definitely recommend headlamp so you can use both hands and good grip shoes. A must do in Flagstaff, great adventure.

hiking
10 months ago

Very awesome hike in the cave. Took the whole family and we all had a blast. Will definitely go again

hiking
10 months ago

It was a fun experience and cool

hiking
10 months ago

An interesting experience and fun for the kids. It will be cold in the cave, and remember your headlamp. Also, watch your head in some spots.

11 months ago

This was a really fun hike. There isn't much of a walk to get to the Cave entrance. Bring a headlamp. We hiked with our 4 and 6 year old and they did a great job. Great fun for kids. Wear good shoes, pants and bring a sweatshirt.

hiking
11 months ago

It was chilly at the beginning, but as I got moving it wasn't bad. some of the rocks are slick, so tread carefully! I brought a headlamp and was able to use my hands to climb over some of the boulders. there were a few spots where the ceiling was low, but not too bad. one thing to note...it's a dirt road to get out there. my little Eos made it, but a higher clearance vehicle would have been nice.

hiking
11 months ago

The cave is wide, and the ceiling is very high. In some places the ceiling rises to about 30 feet.

hiking
Sunday, May 21, 2017

Enjoyed the Hike. Buy good lighting!!!

hiking
Sunday, May 07, 2017

fun adventure. need headlamp and good shoes, very rocky

hiking
Saturday, April 29, 2017

What a fun hike! Please wear sturdy shoes with plenty of ankle support and you will be fine!

hiking
Saturday, April 22, 2017

This was a trail worth doing. I probably should have done it in the summertime though. I went in April and I showed up with the whole family to include a 3 year old and 1 year old. The entrance had a lot of ice and it would have been extremely difficulte to get down there with the kiddos so they ended up staying outside with some of the others who were too afraid to go. I went all the way to the end of the trail and it was awesome! It is definitely cold down there but you sweat a lot. Many times i wanted to take my hoodie off. Definitely make sure you have a flashlight with at least 750 lumens. i saw others down there getting frustrated with their small flashlights. Also make sure you have fresh batteries. It would suck to be alone and the batteries to your light go out..You will not be able to see your hand even when it is right in front of your face. It is total darkness. You would think you were in some horror movies. When you are real deep in the cave and alone just turn off your lights and you will definitely feel those hairs in the back of your neck rise. The trail is rocky at some points (ankle breakers) so be careful as you walk. Also for guys or girls over 5 ft. 8in you will have to bend down a few times but no big deal. This hike was awesome, great workout amd unique. I would definitely do it again but in the summertime so i can take the younger kids in. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Fantastic curiosity hike, down and dirty, close to Flagpole. Bring extra lights and batteries.. Hardhat.

hiking
Thursday, March 23, 2017

Amazing! Forest road was closed so it was about 4 more miles of walking to the trailhead. Definitely a must do during this time of year when there is less people.

hiking
Monday, February 06, 2017

12/30 Walked 3 miles in the snow to the cave. Amazing adventure. Only ppl out there. Cave was very cool. Glad we had headlamps. Floor is very slippery. Will do this hike again in the spring.

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