Cinder Cone Nature Trail

HARD 71 reviews

Cinder Cone Nature Trail is a 4.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Westwood, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October.

4.6 miles
1033 feet





nature trips

trail running



wild flowers


no dogs

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. This day hikes takes you to the top of Cinder Cone where you can marvel at a landscape transformed by volcanic activity.

9 days ago

Hiked on 5/12. The 6 mile dirt road is fine, as long as you drive slow. My sedan handled it just fine. First mile and change goes through the forest until you reach the cone. I took a lot of breaks, but it’s still very doable. Views from the top are very unique.

1 month ago

It is difficult walking on an incline of cinders, but it is interesting to be in this type of volcano. The view at the rim is great.

2 months ago

beautiful place!!!!

3 months ago

Great trail with amazing views. especially if short on time.

4 months ago

Good short hike but kinda out of the way from most of the park. It's worth it if you have a few days to spend at Lassen NP. Going up is not as easy as it looks though. Just take your time and you'll get there and be rewarded with spectacular views.

6 months ago

Amazingly difficult, two steps forward and one back... but the views are to great not to take those steps! Poles do help!

6 months ago

this is my favorite trail in the important note though - dogs are NOT ALLOWED ON THIS TRAIL. There are zero dog friendly trails in the national park and you can be fined for it.

7 months ago

Went in with low expectations because I assumed it was a treeless hike the whole way. Couldn’t have been more wrong!! Beautiful the whole way. Pretty difficult trek up the cone, but well worth it!! Windy on top, I suggest a wind breaker and good hiking boots.

8 months ago

worth the work to the top! Nice views of Lassen peak and the fantastic lava bed. not your typical hike, not many can say they climbed a volcano, if you go then you can say you did!

8 months ago

This hike is phenomenal and is a must-see for any avid hiker. Go on a week day and you may be one of only a few at the top. The hike up the cone is difficult and requires tenacity as you slide a little with every step. Take hiking poles. Hike early in the warm months if possible. Be sure to hike the entire rim of the cone to experience the stunning views in every direction. The center of the cone wasn't spectacular, so if you are tired, skip it. Descend down the Painted Dunes side of the cone for some great photo opportunities. Also, the winds at the top of the rim can be suddenly strong and gusty (I was knocked over by a strong gust).

9 months ago

The gravel is tough to walk on. Its two steps forward one step back, but the views up top were worth it. The lake next to the beginning of the trail was beautiful and we wished we would have brought our kayaks.

10 months ago

This is a very unique hike! Although not long, it is difficult climbing the portion to the top of Cinder Cone. The volcanic dirt becomes looser and rockier as you get to the top, so it feels like 2 steps forward, 1 step back.

Once you get to the top, you can see beautiful views of Mt Lassen, Snag Lake, and Butte Lake. The inner portion of the Cinder Cone has been hollowed out due to volcanic activity and you can actually walk all the way down if you want to. Although difficult to walk to the top - the views are worth it!

10 months ago

This was our favorite hike in Lassen because it showcases the unique volcanic side of the park as you literally climb up a dormant volcano! Gorgeous panoramic views of the park - don't miss it!

10 months ago

Really fun hike. You get to walk in this volcanic sand/soil that is very loose. Walking up the volcano the material is ever looser per say which makes it very taxing but it is definitely worth it. You get great views of Butte Lake and Snag Lake, Lassen Peak, the colored sand dunes and of course the lava fields. Really great place to see if you are in Lassen.

10 months ago

Awesome hike! I would rate it moderate to difficult not because of the distance but due the ground you walk in. It is worth working your way to the top!

11 months ago

Amazing hike though the final part hiking up the cinder cone is is very steep (I think a ranger said it gains 700 ft in .5 miles). Definitely worth it though, just bring lots of water and prepare to get a bit dusty.

11 months ago

Had snow on parts of the trail which made it more difficult than normal, but the effort is always worth the hike!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Went the past weekend 5/13/17 and the trail up the cone was covered in snow but there is access around back which is quite steep and all gravel, or lava rock if you will! Very cool terrain and views of the painted dunes.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Its not an easy hike, but when you get to the top e everything is colorful, you can see how the volcano change the landscape, plus we saw a brown bear while driving to the area.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Finished this trail today. Pretty brutal. Combination of the snow and ash terrain made the ascent extremely difficult, but I did it. I thought the descent through the Bypass was also dicey, as the initial trail down was steep and was very rocky. So had to take it slow going down or else I would've slipped.

All in all, very challenging hike in the snow and can imagine it would still be challenging during other seasons. Would recommend if you're in the area!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

huff puff!
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.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

It is worth it. Sunset was beautiful. wouldn't recommend during hot days

Friday, August 12, 2016

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!

Saturday, February 06, 2016

My daughter and I went with her school. We had a blast!! Looking forward to going again with my younger child.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

a lot of fun!
Amazing view

Monday, September 07, 2015

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:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

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

Saturday, June 27, 2015

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.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

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.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

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!

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