Fifteen miles west of Sisters where Highway 242 crests the McKenzie Pass lies a beautiful and unworldly area of black lava flows and Cascade mountain peaks. These lava flows run from the bases of the North Sister and Middle Sister north toward Mount Washington. This raw and desolate landscape is mostly the work of two small craters, Belknap Crater and its smaller sibling, Little Belknap Crater. Little Belknap Crater can be accessed from the Mckenzie Pass via the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). This is a short, 4.4-mile there-and-back hike. The first 2 miles follows the PCT along broken lava rock and though a couple of “islands” of forest. The Pacific Crest Trail then intersects the access trail to the crater summit. There is a short and steep scramble up to the summit, where you are greeted with a 360-degree view of the Central Oregon Cascades. You'll find a small wind shelter and bench at the top just in case the weather is a little uncooperative.
Be sure to bring your sunscreen and water, as the area has no shade and the black lava rocks act as an effective thermal mass. Also note that this is not a good hike for dogs, as the lava rock is sharp and could lead to an injury. Finally, Highway 242, the only automobile access to the area, is only open from June until October due to snow.