OR – Newberry National Volcanic Monument (Sept 2021)

I was running from wildfire smoke (link to previous post). My first night was a little cooler than expected but I slept toasty warm in my car with my down quilt. Love this little temperature gauge. I keep one in my car and one in my backpack. (Amazon link)

I had zero expectations about air quality the next day but it was exciting to see stars and the moon during the night (the benefit of a sunroof) What a treat! I enjoyed an extra cup of coffee while waiting for the sun to rise and the temps to warm. When I checked AQI I was excited to see green which to me means GO! Get outside and breathe.

Not quite ready to trust AQI, I took a drive up to Paulina Peak. It was perfect hiking temp so I hiked the interpretive trail learning about the struggling White Bark Pine trees. Although smoke smudged the views I still enjoyed seeing the Cascade peaks and the view down into Paulina and East Lakes, and Big Obsidian Flow.

I couldn’t resist another wander on the Big Obsidian Flow Trail, even though I’d hiked it on my previous visit a few years ago (link). This is a 1-mile loop rated moderate. It includes stairs and uneven footing.

The afternoon was for absorbing as much natural Vit D as possible while enjoying the lakeshore views.

Warnings of algae bloom and swimmer’s itch kept me out of the water. I was a little jealous though seeing paddleboarders out and about.

After a full day it was back to my special campsite for dinner and another sunset. I was very thankful for a day being outside breathing good air and soaking in the sun.

During the night I saw stars and was excited to know I wouldn’t need to change location. I had more nearby places to explore and more trails to hike. The Crater Rim Trail is a 21-mile multi-use trail for hikers, bikers and equestrians. Leashed dogs are allowed on most trails as well. This one won’t get a WOW per mile award but it was a great workout and I finally surpassed my 2mph average, impressive with a 1,400 foot climb. Bonus: I only saw one other hiker and one biker during my nearly 9-mile jaunt.

The volcanic pumice makes for extremely dusty trails.

This Park and the surrounding forests are filled with wildfire fuel.

There was evidence Deschutes National Forest and the Park have been busy raking the forests. I hope they have an opportunity to burn these debris piles before a wildfire strikes.

My objective on this day was near North Paulina Peak where I had this view of Paulina Lake and Paulina Peak.

North Paulina Peak isn’t very impressive and wasn’t worth off-trail exploration on this day. I turned around at the Swamp Wells trail junction making this a 9-mile round trip trek.

This is North Paulina Peak from Paulina Lake.

Proof the pumice trail is indeed dusty. I think I broke in my new shoes! As always I really appreciate my Dirty Girl Gaiters for keeping most of the dirt out of my shoes.

The Visitor’s Center was open when I finished my hike and after chatting with a very friendly volunteer, the Lost Lake Trail was recommended. It’s rated difficult although I’m not really sure why. There are options to extend or turn into a loop but I hiked a bit beyond the Pumice Flat junction and that resulted in about 7 miles round trip with 1,000 feet elevation gain/loss.

This photo is from my Big Obsidian Flow hike. The Lost Lakes are not visible nor accessible during today’s hike, not to mention they are dried up at this time of year. Apparently thousands of frogs lay eggs and hang out in the lakes before beginning their mass migration through the obsidian flow, typically in August. Thus off-trail visits to this area are highly discouraged. You can see one of the dry lakes on the far side of the obsidian flow in this photo. The Lost Lake Trail climbs about 1,000 feet through this beautiful forest with occasional opportunities for big views of Paulina Lake, Paulina Peak and Big Obsidian Flow.

The red line is my track from the Lost Lake Trail. You can see the “lakes” surrounding the flow.

I’m glad I was referencing my digital topography maps on Gaia or I might have been tempted to descend from here to try to reach Lost Lakes.

There was lots of obsidian, showcasing many shapes, sizes and textures.

I would have loved to have had a geologist or ranger along to educate me regarding the volcanic activity.

I liked the variety of this trail, especially when I reached a plateau filled with I believe Bristlecone and White Bark Pine trees, and views of Paulina Peak.

Pumice Flat was an interesting short detour off the main trail.

This was my turnaround spot. I’d like to return and hike the lollypop loop.

It takes a lot of time for a tree to take root in lava flows. I recently read it takes about 1,000 years for enough soil to be deposited for a seed to take root.

I was hoping these clouds would gift me an awesome sunset as well as some much needed rain to clean the air.

Sadly neither happened and instead I woke to smoke-filled skies the next morning. There was no doubt my time at Newberry was over for now.

I’d like to say this is fog over Paulina Lake, but alas it’s smoke. I’d hoped to explore the Lava Cast Forest, Hoffman Island and Lava Lands. Those will remain on my list for a future visit.

Adventure Date(s):

  • September 1-4, 2021


  • 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.



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