Hike to Cinder Cone

Lake Tahoe Butte Lake

Added by Matthew Chang

This hike leads you to the top of Lassen Volcanic National Park's Cinder Cone - a several hundred foot high volcano of cinder with a large summit crater.

Cinder Cone Trail
For 1.2 miles, the trail gently slopes up through a forest. The Fantastic Lava Beds form a wall to your left. The Fantastic Lava Beds were formed by several eruptions of lava from Cinder Cone. The trail is mostly cinder erupted from Cinder Cone. Walking on cinder is similar to walking on sand.

The trail then exits the forest and opens up into a field of cinder. Cinder Cone (6,907 ft) rises 500 feet above you and the Painted Dunes lie to the left of Cinder Cone. The trail steepens and continues up Cinder Cone for a 1/4 mile. The cinder makes traveling up the steep trail more difficult. As the trail curves up the south side of Cinder Cone, Lassen Peak (10,457 ft) comes into view.

A scene of Cinder Cone's summit crater unfolds before you as you near the top. Follow the trail left around the crater where it is a short hike to the summit. The summit gives you a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape including Lassen Peak to the SW and the Painted Dunes and Fantastic Lava Beds below.

The trail follows the rim of the summit crater in a 0.6 mile loop. If time and weather permit, separate trails lead into the summit crater and south into the Painted Dunes. If you choose to descend into the Painted Dunes, a trail on the west side of Cinder Cone connects the Painted Dunes to the main trail on the north side of Cinder Cone. Otherwise, retrace your steps back to the trailhead. Remember to protect the landscape by not tracking off the trail into the cinder fields.

From State Route 44, there is a 6 mile unpaved road to Butte Lake (closed in winter). The road is easily passable by low-clearance cars.

The trail to Cinder Cone starts at the end of a short road to the south. Park at the Butte Lake Parking Area and walk down the road where there is a trailhead and boat launch area. Cinder Cone Trail leaflets are available at the trailhead for 50¢.

Trail Mileage

Cumulative Distance (mi) Destination
0.0 Butte Lake Parking Area
1.5 Base of Cinder Cone
1.7 Start of crater loop
1.9 Cinder Cone Summit
2.3 End of crater loop
4.0 Butte Lake Parking Area

Pack List

  • Water
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Trail map
  • Camera
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More




Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



4 Miles

Elev. Gain:

846 Feet




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How to Get There

3 months ago

Knee Killer But Definitely Worth The Hike

Brutal 2 mile hike up the top but the view at the top is amazing!

3 months ago

Added by Matthew Chang

Let's go chase waterfalls

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