Hike-in Required
Yes
Open Year-round
Yes
ADA accessible
No
Guided tours
No
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.

Located roughly 12 miles southeast of Bend and a part of the same lava tube flow that created Arnold Ice Cave, Hidden Forest Cave is a magical and unique geological destination in the middle of Central Oregon's high desert.

Collectively known as the Arnold Ice Cave System, there are 19 caves in total and numerous more collapsed caves (depressions) that measure 4.5 miles from end to end, with most of the caves being little more than a few hundred feet deep. Wind Cave is located just 1.5 miles to the north on the other side of China Hat Road, and it is the longest, measuring 3,839 feet long. Due to its critical bat population, however, Wind Cave is permanently closed. Other notable caves in the system include:

  • Arnold Ice Cave
  • Charcoal Cave
  • Dark Hole
  • Pictograph Cave (1,640 feet long)
  • Stookey Ranch Cave
  • Bat Cave
  • Deg Cave

Like the nearby and heavily visited Lava River Cave (5,466 feet long), these lava tubes formed as the top layer of a lava flow was exposed to air. The air cooled the lava, which slowed as it solidified. The lava lower down remained at temperatures as high as 2,000 degrees and continued to flow like a river below the hardened top crust. The lava then drained away and left the empty tube in place. Hidden Forest Cave is unique because its both a lava tube and a nearly 500-foot-long, 40-foot-deep depression where the cave's ceiling collapsed.

Visiting the Cave

Starting on the same trail as Arnold Ice Cave, you'll walk about five minutes down the trail passing two or three other lava depressions before reaching Hidden Forest Cave. You'll know it's Hidden Forest Cave as there is a large grove of ponderosa pines in the middle of the depression, unlike the three to five trees that stand in the middle of others. There is a trail that follows the rim to the back side and gradually winds its way down to the cave's impressive entrance.

Hidden Forest Cave is open year round and is easily accessible. It's a good idea to bring a headlamp or flashlight if you plan to venture further back into the cave. Dogs are prohibited, and climbing or bouldering are not allowed on the cave walls. This cave suffered greatly from vandalism in 2001, and volunteers spent years removing graffiti and rehabilitating the environment near the cave. As always, be respectful. When in the area, you can also enjoy nearby Boyd Cave and Skeleton Cave (by special permit only, call 541.389.8359 for details), roughly 3 miles northwest of China Hat Road.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Remote and iconic lave cave.

Cons

No access to water. Short cave.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Features

Geologically significant

Location

Field Guide + Map

Nearby Adventures

Comments

These are called lost forest caves for a reason. We don’t want many folks exploring them. Now because of sites like this and social media, these places that are important to the locals are getting run down, and over populated with tourists. I’ve lived in Central Oregon for over 40 years and absolutely despise people sharing all this sort of info on the web. It’s not just these caves, it’s multiple locations around Oregon you should not just give full directions to. We live here and want these places kept in good condition. Too many people trampling around take the beauty and fun out of it for everyone else that’s already here.
Please stop.
Thanks.
Loved seeing this cave in the snow. Looked like a scene out of Narnia. I highly suggest entering the cave through the small opening closer to the parking lot. That's what we did and were blown away by the picture framed scene on the other side.
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