Elevation Gain
474.00 ft (144.48 m)
Trail type
4.00 mi (6.44 km)
Warming hut
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

In summer, with the right vehicle, it’s possible to drive right up to Obsidian Dome and only do a short scramble to the top of this fascinating geologic structure. However, in winter, the journey to this hill made of volcanic glass gets much more interesting. If you’re someone who fancies post-holing, this adventure can be done as a hike or, for the more adventurous, even a run. However, it can also be a good introductory snowshoeing trip for snowshoe beginners and an easy snowshoe stroll for those more experienced. It can also be done on skis, however, you won't be able to explore around the top of the dome on skis. Snowmobile users, please note that the area opens to snowmobiles on April 17 each year and snowmobiles aren't allowed before this day.

Obsidian is a peculiar type of material. It’s not a rock, and it’s not a mineral, as its atomic structure is completely chaotic instead of being arranged in near repeating patterns. Obsidian is volcanic glass. A toddler in the world of geology, Obsidian Dome was born only a little over 600 years ago. If you are about to embark there to collect some of the obsidian rock to make arrowheads, don’t; this obsidian is more porous and therefore unfit for such endeavors.

To get to Obsidian Dome, start at the parking right off Highway 395. There’s a lot of space and no need to worry about parking, especially in fall, winter, and spring. The head out on Obsidian Dome Road.

Follow the road for 1 mile. Keep going straight through all the junctions (in winter, most of them won’t be visible, while Obsidian Dome Road is most likely to have snowshoe, ski, and snowmobile tracks) until you arrive at a fork in the road. Turn left at the fork onto Obsidian Loop Road. A sign is also there, pointing out that Obsidian Dome is to the left.

Follow Obsidian Loop Road for half a mile until you arrive at another fork. Turn left at the fork to stay on Obsidian Loop Road. After only 0.1 mile, there will be a trail turning off the road to the left. Get on the trail. It will bring you up the side of Obsidian Dome.

The climb is just a little over 0.1 mile long and brings you to the top of the dome. In summer, a path is visible, slithering through the volcanic glass, however, in winter, there might be a few footsteps of ski tracks at most. Enjoy the view from the top of the dome; the tall peaks of the Sierras to the south and White Wind Mountain to the southwest.

Take your time wandering about; just be extra cautious, especially when there’s snow, about where you step. It’s not hard to dislodge some of the smaller obsidian boulders or twist an ankle in a crevice between two.

When there’s no snow, it’s possible to follow the path to the south and turn this adventure into a lollipop loop; just follow the trail as it brings you back down, then turn right and follow Obsidian Loop Road until it brings you back to where you climbed up the dome.

When there’s snow and the path isn’t clearly visible, it is advisable to stick close to the path you followed up the side of the dome and take only the small loop on the top, possibly explore around, always making sure you know where you are in relation to the path.

When you’ve enjoyed the views and the alien-looking landscape on the top of the dome, simply retrace your steps, turning right onto Obsidian Loop Road when you descend the trail down from the dome. When you arrive, one again, at that fork in the road with the sign, keep going slightly to the right to get onto Obsidian Dome Road and then follow the road all the way back to the trailhead.

Logistics + Planning

Parking Pass



Usually doesn't get busy. A good trail for first-time snowshoe or ski users. Beautiful views.


Walking on the top of obsidian dome can get a bit tricky.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions

Trailhead Elevation

8,036.00 ft (2,449.37 m)

Highest point

8,448.00 ft (2,574.95 m)


Family friendly
Big vistas
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day


Groomed trail


Snowmobiles allowed




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