Central Oregon Hiking: Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Newberry Crater at Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Newberry Volcano – Central Oregon’s Sleeping Giant

A volcanic attraction covering over 500 square miles beginning just south of Bend and extending to just south of Sunriver and east of LaPine. Managed by the U.S. Forest Service, this monument provides a unique opportunity to view the Lava Lands of Central Oregon. It’s called a “monument,” but it’s actually a 50,000 acre region of natural wonders including lakes, lava flows and other geologic features unique to our region.

Paulina Peak Viewpoint in Newberry Volcanic Monument

Paulina Peak stretches nearly 8,000 feet above sea level and a hike to the top give you a birds-eye view across the High Desert. It is hard to fathom as you drive through the summit area that you are within a 17 square mile caldera at the summit of a 500 square mile volcano, a volcano that remains very active to this day. Newberry is both seismically and geothermally active. Geologists believe the caldera sits over a shallow magma body only 2 to 5 kilometers deep. Visitors see numerous cinder cones (over 400 throughout the area), miles of basalt flows, as well as rhyolite flows of obsidian. Miles of hiking trails run through the Monument, offering visitors year round opportunities for hiking and exploring. There are many more smaller trails and connections in the area that are not listed below.


Big Obsidian Flow Trail

At a mere 1,300 years old, the Big Obsidian Flow is the youngest lava flow in Oregon.  A one-mile interpretive trail climbs up and onto this impressive lava flow of obsidian (black glass) and pumice. Along the trail there are seven interpretive signs which discuss the geology, biology, history, and archaeology of the Big Obsidian Flow. It’s not a difficult hike, but the trail is cut through jagged pumice and obsidian that can cut your feet if you’re wearing open toed shoes.

Paulina Falls Trail


This is a very short trail to some of the best scenery in the park. From the parking lot, it’s just a short walk to the viewpoint overlooking the double falls, which plummet about 80 feet below. For a better angle, take the quarter mile path down to the bottom of the falls. It’s an easy walk for just about everyone – and worth the trip.


Crater Rim Trail

The ultimate in high country trails for this area. This trail has many access points and connectors to other trails including Paulina Lakeshore Trail, Paulina Peak Trail, Lost Lake Trail, Parallel Trail, and Swamp Wells Trail.

Lava Butte Trail

Lava Butte is a cinder cone rising 500 feet above Lava Lands Visitor Center.  A cinder covered trail encircles the rim of the cone with outstanding views.  The parking lot on top of Lava Butte is limited to 10 vehicles, so 30 minute time passes are issued at the Lava Lands Welcome Station on a first come, first served basis. There is a working Fire Lookout atop Lava Bute, but please don’t disturb the staff in the Lookout. You may enter the room beneath the Lookout and view the panoramic photos that help identifiy the peaks in view. Vehicles greater than 22′ long may not go up the Butte.

Lava Cast Forest Trail

In the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, this paved interpretive loop trail helps you discover the strange world of tree molds formed 7,000 years ago by molten lava.

Little Crater Trail

This trail offers scenic views of two lakes, Paulina Peak, and the Big Obsidian Flow.  Trailheads are located at the first boatramp parking area of Little Crater Campground and at the north end of the campground. It can also be accessed from the Paulina Lakeshore Trail

Lost Lake Trail

For those who want to get away from all the water activity, the Lost Lake Trail heads up from the lakes into the drier part of the Newberry Caldera. This trail affords some excellent views of The Big Obsidian Flow as well as pumice flats and other features of Newberry National Volcanic Monument.  Lost Lake South Trail connects Lost Lake Trail near Pumice Flat to the Crater Rim Trail. Steep in places.

paulina lake loop trail
Paulina Lake Loop Trail

Paulina Peak Trail

The summit of Paulina Peak with an elevation of 7,984 feet, is the highest point on the Newberry Volcano.  This site offers a grand overview of the Newberry Crater, the south and west flanks of the Newberry Volcano, the Cascades, the Fort Rock Basin, and much of central Oregon.

*All trails require one of the following: Recreation Pass Site – Vehicle Permit – Day Pass  – $5.00. Or $30.00 Annual Pass or other valid Recreation Passes.


Hidden in plain sight, Oregon’s massive Newberry Volcano is the largest volcano in the Cascades volcanic arc and covers an area the size of Rhode Island. Unlike familary cone-shaped Cascades volcanoes, Newberry was built into the shape of a broad shield by repeated eruptions over 400,000 years. About 75,000 years ago a major explosion and collapse event created a large volcanic depression (caldera) at its summit. Newberry last erupted about 1,300 years ago, and present-day hot springs and geologically young lava flows indicate that is could reawaken at any time. Because of its proximity to nearby communities of LaPine, Sunriver and Bend Oregon, frequency and size of past eruptions, and geologic youthfulness, U.S. Geological Survey scients are working to better understand volcanic activity at Newberry and closely monitor the volcano for signs of unrest. In November of 1990, Newberry National Volcanic Monument was created within the boundaries of Deschutes National Forest. Managed by the U.S. Forest Service, this monument provides a unique opportunity to view the Lava Lands of central Oregon.Newberry National Volcanic National Monument includes 50,000+ acres of lakes, lava flows, and spectacular geologic features in central Oregon. The highest point within the Monument is the summit Paulina Peak (7,985 ft.), showcasing views of the Oregon Cascades and across the High Desert.

Lava Lands near Bend Oregon

Lava Lands Visitor’s Center

Lava Lands Visitor Center is the interpretive hub of Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Friendly rangers will help orient you to the Monument using our new 3D topographic map.Visit our state of the art interpretive exhibit on area geologic and cultural history, shop in the Discover Your Northwest Bookstore, view a variety of films scheduled daily, walk the Trail of the Molten Lands and the Trail of the Whispering Pines, picnic under the pines, attend a ranger talk, drive to the top of Lava Butte for a spectacular view of Central Oregon.

Onycha Vandermeer
Onycha Vandermeer
Onycha Vandermeer is an International Ecotourism student at Oregon State. She grew up in the Willamette Valley and spent several years traveling and living internationally before returning to Oregon to attend school. While international travel is her true passion she fell in love with the beautiful high desert of Central Oregon and spends as much time as possible outdoors. She is joined on many of her outdoor adventures by her dog, Lucifer the Friendly Pitbull.
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