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“Well worth the effort!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Fantastic Lava Beds

Fantastic Lava Beds
Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA
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Type: Geologic Formations, Outdoors
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Attraction details
Owner description: A thick black sheet of lava covers several square miles.
Columbus, Ohio
19 reviews 19 reviews
17 attraction reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
“Well worth the effort!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 3, 2014

Though the main road that traverses the park is gorgeous, take the time to drive up to the northeast corner of the park to see the Cinder Cone and Lava Beds. It’s a bit of a drive, and the last five miles or so are all dirt road, but it’s definitely worth it! The trail to the Cinder Cone is very mild… until you get to the cone itself. It’s about 800 feet up a path that’s etched along the side of the cone. Though it’s 800 feet of elevation gain, it’s more accurate to say 1,200. I say this because for every step you take vertically, you slide back six inches due to the terrain. The trail up to the top of the cone IS the cone itself… small lava rocks. Even though this ascend can be tiring, DON’T GIVE UP! It is well worth the effort. Once you’re at the top of Cinder Cone, you can see in all directions for miles. You can see Lassen Peak, as well as other snow capped peaks, mountain lakes, and colorful lava beds and smaller lava cones below, plus the crater of the cone itself. There’s a short trail leading to the center of the cone. Don’t let this section of the park escape you!

Visited June 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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7 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
London, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
75 reviews 75 reviews
43 attraction reviews
Reviews in 49 cities Reviews in 49 cities
84 helpful votes 84 helpful votes
“Best thing in the park”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 24, 2014

Loved this hike! It is reviewed elsewhere in Tripadvisor- search for 'Mineral Cinder Cone'.

Although in the Lassen Volcanic Park you access the fantastic lava beds (also cinder cone and painted dunes) via a separate entrance to the park that leads to Butte Lake Campground. The road is on the park map and also worked via our satnav so easy enough to find. You will need to allow time to get from the main park entrance in the north to the turnoff ~45 mins plus the drive down to Butte Lake. As others have noted this is not a paved road, but is drivable in a regular car if you go slow. The road is gravel with few potholes and some short 'washboard' sections. Gradient is fairly flat. Note if in a rental you probably won't be insured as the road isn't paved. We found the road fine provided you drive at ~20 mph. I wouldn't recommend driving it in twilight/dark as being able to see the road surface helps.

Toilet facilities are available at the carpark by Butte Lake. There is also a campground. From the lake the trail begins to the left of the toilet block as you face the lake. There is a paper 'trail guide' at the start of the walk and a map of the route on a post, though it's easy enough to work out where to go.

It is a really rewarding hike- my favourite in Lassen Park. It is relatively short (~ a couple of miles) with the first section only slightly uphill (but on a 'sandy' surface) and shaded. The later section of the trail is not particularly long but is very steep and tough going, as you are on the cinder cone itself, the surface of which is very loose underfoot. The climb is more of a scramble than a walk. If the sun is out you will be very exposed, so take lots of water and dress appropriately (boots!). My advice would be to just take your time and don't give up! Consider going early morning to avoid the heat in summer.

From the top of the cone you have a really *amazing* view of the surrounding area, including the inside of the cone, the fantastic lava beds and painted dunes. You can also see Mt Lassen. If you can't make it up the cone you can explore the painted dunes via a path that leads round the right hand side of the cone.

Visited July 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Torrance, California
Senior Contributor
40 reviews 40 reviews
30 attraction reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
“Interesting Experience”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 2, 2013

On our last day, we departed Drakesbad Guest Ranch and made the trek up to the Butte Area of Lassen Volcanic National Park. This was clearly a less frequently region of the park, and we were glad we made the drive. The butte area is well maintained and quite clean. The Fantastic Lava Beds are right there for the exploring with photo opportunities abounding. We were not up for the 2 mile hike up Cinder cone, so we walked a little trial across the parking area and got a glimpse of it the easy way.

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
73 reviews 73 reviews
56 attraction reviews
Reviews in 44 cities Reviews in 44 cities
77 helpful votes 77 helpful votes
“Take the Cinder Cone Trail to the top!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 2, 2013

The route to the Butte Lake campground is the only way to get to the Cinder Cone Trail, which is an hour's drive eastwards from the northern entrance to the park. It includes a 7-mile dirt road which is entirely passable in normal passenger cars at a 15-20mph speed. The trip is entirely worth the time and effort! The trail is 4 miles round trip and takes 2-3 hours of moderate-to-strenuous hiking. It offers spectacular views of the Cinder Cone, the surrounding lava beds, painted dunes, lakes and remote peaks. You can also hike to the bottom of the Cone. See the pictures and judge for yourself!

Visited September 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Terre Haute
Senior Contributor
40 reviews 40 reviews
29 attraction reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
63 helpful votes 63 helpful votes
“NOT Lava Beds National Monument”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 17, 2013

Several reviewers here seemed to have confused the Fantastic Lava Beds in Lassen Volcanic National Park with Lava Beds National Monument 100 miles to the north. As far as I know there are no caves (or ranger-led tours of such) in the former though Subway Cave, a lava tube, is about 10 miles north of the NW entrance to the Park, just off 89 1/4 mile past jct where 44 turns east. Subway Cave is a short self-guided tour that is worth the brief stop.

The Fantastic Lava Beds are nestled between Butte and Snag Lakes and Cinder Cone in the NE corner of the Park. The southern and western faces of the flow that we hiked past were quite dramatic, 50-80' in height. I actually enjoyed those views more than the eagle eye view atop Cinder Cone though you can see the two separate flows from that vantage point. The colorful Painted Dunes borders the NW flank of the beds. This is a great area for interesting photography.

Note that hiking on the dark cinders around the beds takes more effort and will be hot during summer.

Visited July 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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