Click here for current wildfire information in Central Oregon including up-to-date conditions and restrictions.

The Big Obsidian Flow

Photo courtesy of Megan Egli

Nowhere else in Oregon can you hike through a 1,300-year-old lava flow inside an active volcano’s caldera—but such is the charm of the Big Obsidian Flow Trail, which offers a dramatic look at the region’s explosive past within the broader Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

The Big Obsidian Flow Trail, largely accessible between June and October, measures roughly one mile (round-trip) and challenges hikers with about 200 feet of elevation gain along the way. It takes visitors into the heart of Oregon’s youngest lava flow, offering up-close looks at glassy obsidian rocks and softer pumice rocks that cover one square mile.

Learn about the area’s natural history, geology, and other fascinating facts with seven interpretive panels that line the path—and take time to rest on benches along the trail and admire the disparate landscapes that sit within Newberry Volcano’s remarkable caldera (including old-growth forests and a pair of crystal-clear lakes). The trail is free of shade, so be sure to bring plenty of water if hiking in summer.

Rangers give talks at the on-site Big Obsidian Flow Amphitheater each summer, and a few picnic tables invite visitors to enjoy lunch or dinner in the shadow of the expansive lava flow.

Open Season

Late May-mid-Nov.

Dog Friendly and/or Leash Rules

Due to the rocky, jagged nature of this trail, dogs are not advised.

Best time to visit

June-Oct.

Don’t Miss

Get started early to enjoy cooler temperatures and enjoy solitude at the eerie landscape.

Fees or Pass Needed

A Forest Pass ($5 per day pass or $30 per annual pass) or America the Beautiful pass ($80 per annual pass) is accepted.

Restrictions

Motorized vehicles (including e-bikes) are not permitted on the trail.

Activities

Hiking

Viewpoint

Parking

Parking is available at the Big Obsidian Flow Trailhead.

Directions

From La Pine, the 21-mile drive to the Big Obsidian Flow Trailhead takes about 35 minutes via northbound Highway 97 and Paulina-East Lake Road.

Other stories

More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.

  • Great Getaways: Newberry Country
    Great Getaways: Newberry Country

    When plunging into a multi-day adventure in Central Oregon, the number of choices can be well, overwhelming. There is just so much to do in this four-season playground that a traveler can be forgiven for suffering from a little indecision. One strategy is to break down the area by geography, clustering activities together that are within striking distance of a home base, be it a hotel, cabin, or RV parking spot.

  • Lava Caves Offer (dark) Glimpse into Central Oregon’s Volcanic Past
    Lava Caves Offer (dark) Glimpse into Central Oregon’s Volcanic Past

    CENTRAL OREGON has been formed and shaped by the fire and molten lava of volcanic activity. This powerful force of nature has made the region a showcase for a variety of volcanic features. The lava tubes in Central Oregon are young according to geologic time. They appear almost as they did thousands of years ago when they were first formed.