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Panum Crater Rim Trail

Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California

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Panum Crater Rim Trail

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  • Trails traverse the plug and rim of Panum Crater.- Panum Crater Rim Trail
  • Panum Crater Rim Trail overlooks Mono Lake.- Panum Crater Rim Trail
  • Panum Crater Rim Trail.- Panum Crater Rim Trail
  • Looking west to the Sierra from Panum Crater.- Panum Crater Rim Trail
  • Mono Lake from the top of Panum Crater.- Panum Crater Rim Trail
  • Sunrise over Mono Craters.- Panum Crater Rim Trail
  • Mono Lake and the Sierra Nevada.- Panum Crater Rim Trail
  • Looking west to the Sierra from Panum Crater.- Panum Crater Rim Trail
  • Mono Craters.- Panum Crater Rim Trail
  • Panum Crater Rim Trail.- Panum Crater Rim Trail
  • Panum Crater Rim Trail.- Panum Crater Rim Trail
  • Mono Lake seen from Panum Crater.- Panum Crater Rim Trail
  • Obsidian of Panum Crater.- Panum Crater Rim Trail
  • Panum Crater at daybreak.- Panum Crater Rim Trail
  • Fresh snow on the Mono Craters.- Panum Crater Rim Trail
  • - Panum Crater Rim Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Cool geology. Mono and Sierra views. Family friendly.
Cons: 
High winds. Dirt road.
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Region:
Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, CA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
1.50 mi (2.41 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

An otherworldly remnant of a geologically recent volcanic period, Panum Crater is the smallest and most accessible of the Mono Craters. Just south of Mono Lake, a hike around Panum Crater Rim Trail provides visitors with a unique vantage point to view the Eastern Sierra and Mono Basin.

Panum Crater was formed only 650 years ago by forces that are still shaping the volcanic and seismically active region. In fact, the Mono Craters are the youngest mountain range in North America. Having both youth and a durable composition of rhyolite on its side, Panum Crater is a perfectly preserved specimen.

Hiking the Panum Crater Rim Trail requires modest physical fitness and good footwear. Loose, pea-sized pumice gravel is prevalent throughout the trail and may present a challenge to those with limited mobility. 

The 1.5-mile track is completely exposed and subject to high winds. Circumnavigating the crater can take up to an hour; carrying water is recommended.   

Steep crater walls and loose scree mandate that hikers stay on the trail to prevent erosion. Geology enthusiasts can continue onto the Plug Trail for a closer look at the dome and toppled obsidian spires. Collecting obsidian and other natural treasures is prohibited.

Highway 120 and the 1-mile dirt road to Panum Crater (1N28) are often closed during winter storms. Check with CalTrans for updated road closures before your trip.

In the summer months, guided tours are available free of charge through the Mono Lake Committee.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(7 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(61 within a 30 mile radius)

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Adventure Community

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