OR – Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Paulina Region

Over the years, I’ve traveled through Bend many times, but until now my timing has never been optimal to explore the area. After a 5-week travel hiatus, it was time to begin my summer jaunt. Can you believe the Newberry Volcano is the largest in the Cascade Range? It’s also one of the newest National Monuments receiving the status in 1990, and only one of 12 managed by the US Forest Service.

There are three areas of the monument with the southern region the most diverse. I visited several trails in that section during my recent visit.

Hike #1 – Paulina Falls and Creek Trail

Besides Paulina (pronounced Pol-EYE-nuh) Lake, the Falls are probably the most visited areas of the park. There is a short 1/4 mile trail to the falls but it also extends to the top of the falls and along the creek to a crossing and the opposite shore.

Hike #2 – Big Obsidian Flow Trail

This is another short hike of about one mile. Ask at the Paulina Visitor Center if there will be a ranger talk. There was one scheduled for the day I visited but the timing didn’t work for my schedule. The trail is quite rocky. I was glad to be wearing my hiking shoes and prepared with my hiking poles. There is excellent interpretive signage along the trail.

Hike #3 – Little Crater Trail

This trail was in excellent shape offering views of Paulina Lake, but most impressive was the view of the 1,300 year old Big Obsidian Flow. There were even a few wildflower sightings. It was a less than a 2-mile loop with about 400′ of elevation gain/loss.

Hike #4 – Newberry Crater Trail

I really wanted to experience being on the rim and seeing if I could get a better perspective of the 17-square mile caldera, so this trail seemed the best opportunity. There is a 21-mile loop trail along the rim; however, no backcountry camping is allowed so biking, running or fast hiking are the best options to experience it in one go. There are several access points so you can create a series of loops to experience more of the rim. This was 7 mile, 1,100′ foot elevation/gain, zero WOW-factor hike until the end when you’re rewarded with a view.

Virtual Hike – Paulina Peak

After my full day of hiking, I drove to the peak rather than hiking the 2-mile, 1,400′ elevation gain/loss trail. It was a perfect way to end my trip as the view of the caldera, lakes, flow and other volcanic features were highlighted from this perspective.

The skies weren’t very cooperative on this visit keeping mostly hidden the distant mountains. I was glad for at least a glance while on Paulina Peak where I could see Three Sisters.

Adventure Date(s):

  • July 10, 2019


  • There is no backcountry camping (car or backpacking) allowed in the park. There are several nice campgrounds.
  • Dispersed camping is available on forest service roads outside the park as well as at the nearby snow parks.
  • Another recommended trail I’d hike in the future is the Peter Skene Ogden National Recreation Trail.
  • A ranger recommended the Lava Cast Forest. I’m sure it’ll be very interesting as I was introduced to these fascinating fossils at Craters of the Moon National Park.




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