Lava Butte, Trail of the Molten Land

Central Oregon, Oregon

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Lava Butte, Trail of the Molten Land

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  • Interpretive trail through 7,000 year-old lava field and Lava Butte (5,023').- Lava Butte, Trail of the Molten Land
  • - Lava Butte, Trail of the Molten Land
  • Gray rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa).- Lava Butte, Trail of the Molten Land
  • - Lava Butte, Trail of the Molten Land
  • - Lava Butte, Trail of the Molten Land
  • View west across the lava field on a hazy day.  Mount Bachelor (9,068') is at left.- Lava Butte, Trail of the Molten Land
  • View west across the lava field.- Lava Butte, Trail of the Molten Land
  • View of Lava Butte with large "snowballs" in the foreground.- Lava Butte, Trail of the Molten Land
  • Cusick's monkeyflower (Mimulus cusickii).- Lava Butte, Trail of the Molten Land
  • Golden-mantled ground squirrel (Callospermophilus lateralis).- Lava Butte, Trail of the Molten Land
  • Yellow-pine chipmunk (Neotamias amoenus).- Lava Butte, Trail of the Molten Land
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Incredible geological history. Panoramic views. Kid friendly.
Cons: 
Closed during the winter (10.01 thru 04.31).
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Region:
Central Oregon, OR
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
150.00 ft (45.72 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Suitable for: 
Hiking
Total Distance: 
1.00 mi (1.61 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
4,520.00 ft (1,377.70 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Team

This short interpretive trail starting at the Lava Lands Visitor Center in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument will give you an informative glimpse into the geology of the Cascades and much of the Pacific Northwest.  The trail takes you on a short, one-mile tour of one of the largest currently-exposed lava fields of the Cascade Volcanic Arc.

Young in geological time, this basalt flowed out of a vent on Lava Butte's southern side between 6,000 and 7,000 years ago at a temperature of 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit.  The lava finally cooled much as it lays today, stretching 5 miles to the north, 3 miles to the west, and covering an area of over 6,000 acres.  The lava flow completely moved the Deschutes River off of its original track.

Both Lava Butte and the lava field are made up of basalt (extrusive igneous rock), which comes in many forms depending on its particular chemical composition and the manner in which it cooled.  Unlike obsidian, however, igneous rock has far less silica, the chief mineral in glass, making it duller or more matte in appearance.  In contrast to the lava field, Lava Butte is not a monolithic solid form; rather, it's a giant pile of cinders (gas-charged basalt).  In case you are wondering, pumice, similar in weight and texture to cinder, is gas-charged obsidian.

While you are walking around this volcanic "wasteland," look for signs of life coming back to inhabit this formidable landscape, and what you find might surprise you.

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Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

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(36 within a 30 mile radius)

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