Volcano Lake is a fairly easy day hike that starts right in the Sardine Lake Campground. This hike is an easier alternative to the much more challenging hike up to the Sierra Buttes that also starts nearby. Until recently, over 3,000 acres of the Sierra Buttes area were private land, including Volcano Lake and much of the rocky buttes themselves. In 2011 the Trust for Public Land acquired some of these parcels and continues to maintain them for public use.
The trail to Volcano Lake starts on Sardine Lake Road across from the turnoff to Packer Lake. The trail can also be taken from the east end of the campground, just behind the camp host site. Following an old mining road for much of the way, the trail first crosses Sardine Creek (there is a log crossing to the right of the trail) and then slowly climbs up the rolling hills that follow the North Yuba River below the Sierra Buttes. There is a hard-to-spot turn at the 1.25-mile point, marked at this writing by an orange tape tied to a branch, that leaves the dirt road and leads to the lake. It is a steep climb up to the lake, but very worth the effort. An additional 4 miles round trip and 1,000 feet of elevation gain leads to the Mountain Mine site.