Big Obsidian Flow

Big Obsidian Flow

Elev. Gain: 
230 ft.
6,574 ft.
La Pine, OR
0.70 miles (round trip)
Big on geology but short on length, this is a worthy roadside stop.
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Newberry National Volcanic Monument is within an hour drive of Bend, Oregon and definitely worth the short trip to put your boots on Oregon's youngest terrain – a basaltic lava flow barely 1,300 years old. Although the name Big Obsidian Flow Interpretive Loop Trail doesn't quite roll off the tongue, the hike is quite easy, and the whole family will be able to manage this (less-than) one mile loop through the lava.

Start on a paved path at the south end of the parking lot, climbing gently to a metal staircase that helps you access the obsidian flow. Once on the flow, the trail splits into a loop. Follow the well-pounded path in either direction, reading from seven interpretive signs en route to a high point of about 6,600' elevation.

At the crest of the loop, enjoy views across the Newberry Caldera to Paulina Lake and East Lake, with the mighty snow-capped Cascades peaking over the hills (Mount Bachelor to the south and the Sisters to the north). Looking southeast, catch a view of 7,989' Paulina Peak, the highest point in Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Absolutely worth the side trip, eh?

Permits & Tips

Northwest Forest Pass required. Vault toilet is available at trailhead, but no water. Bring plenty of sun protection and enough water to get you through the loop as the black obsidian terrain heats up big time with very little vegetation for shade. Best attempted in early morning. Closed toe shoes are highly recommended. Find out more information by calling the Lava Lands Visitor Center.

>>Google Directions

How to get there

From Bend, travel 24 miles south on Hwy 97, then 15 miles east on County Road 21 (Paulina Lake Road). The parking lot and trailhead are on the right (south) side of the road.