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Butte Lake-Snag Lake-Cinder Cone Loop

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Lassen Volcanic National Park

Butte Lake-Snag Lake-Cinder Cone Loop is a 12.4 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near McArthur, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and camping and is best used from June until October.

Distance: 12.4 miles Elevation Gain: 2,073 feet Route Type: Loop






wild flowers


over grown

no dogs

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.

8 months ago

This is a completely different trail from anything I have ever done. NOT for the faint of heart. Imagine being on a beach going uphill with a 15% grade and then throw gravel on top.

9 months ago

Amazing hike. Incredible views and not too strenuous... I would suggest having this map downloaded though seeing as there were segments of it that i depended on my gps to locate the path.

11 months ago

Great hike and the trail is in good condition (easily hiked). This hike takes you by the cinder cone and also to some lakes that are quite scenic. It was not too difficult of a hike. We actually did it in reverse, starting with the cinder cone, then Snag lake followed by Rainbow lake and back. The cinder cone is much steeper than the photos make it look. It’s not that hard, but just takes some time.

Thu Jul 19 2018

A great hike to ser the non tourist side of Lassen Park. It is not as diificult as rated with exception of the hike up the conder cone. spent the night at Snag lake and heard our bear visitor trying to get to the food canister, no luck so it moved on. A few hours later it roamed back by. Exciting.

Mon Jul 16 2018

Loved this trip because it was pretty isolated and not as difficult as others have rated it.

Tue Jun 12 2018

great hike , longish but pretty easy miles .. pretty wild area expect to see some wildlife , I always do .. and bears ..trail rolls along thru diverse forests , creeks , meadows , and old burn areas .. I prefer to do the cone first then take the backside trail off the cinder , get a view of whats ahead for your day , and get that heart pumping lol .. rest of trail just rolls along the lakes and thru some forests , your back at camp before ya know it .. enjoy and be safe

Wed Sep 02 2015

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.

Sat Jul 25 2015

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.

Mon Oct 06 2014

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.

Thu Jul 18 2013

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.

Fri Mar 08 2013

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.

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Mon Jul 23 2018

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Mon Jul 10 2017

Sun Jul 10 2016