Monday, July 4, 2016
Newberry National Volcanic Monument-Lava Lands
The most obvious feature in the Lava Lands section of Newberry National Monument is the 500’ high Lava Butte cinder cone which formed about 7,000 years ago. Hot cinders spewed from a fissure to create the cone which split at the base allowing hot lava to flow out and bury everything for about 6 miles to the northwest. A paved trail loops through the lava and leads to a high viewpoint. The top of the butte can be accessed by a hiking/biking trail or by shuttle bus. The visitor center and two more trails -Trail of the Whispering Pines, a short, paved interpretive trail, and Sun-Lava Trail, a 5.5 mile, paved bike trail can all be accessed from Lava Land’s parking lot. The parking lot has long RV spaces.
Also accessed from the Lava Land’s lot are two roads leading to more features. Forest Road 9702 goes to a lot for Benham Falls Trail and Old Mill Interpretive Trail. FR 9702 goes to the lot for Lava River Cave Trail and Lava Cast Forest Trail is accessed by FR 9720.
Many of the features at the Lava Lands section are accessible. The visitor center is accessible. We did not take the shuttle to the top of Lava Butte. The shuttle should be accessible but the short trail along the rim is not. Trail of Molten Land, the trail through the lava flow, is partly accessible. At the Y turn right to stay on the wide, smooth path. Turn around when the trail narrows. It is possible to complete the loop with the help of a strong pusher because the trail is paved although it’s very steep and has wheel grabbing cracks. Trail of the Whispering Pines and Sun-LavaTrail are both accessible.
To get to Benham Falls Trail and Old Mill Interpretive Trail drive to the parking lot at the end of FR 9702. Old Mill Trail is packed dirt and makes a short accessible loop. Follow the trail along the river to the footbridge and the trail to Benham Falls. The first part after the bridge is rocky and slightly uphill but once past that point it becomes wide and smooth. This goes to another parking lot where the trail heads downhill to the river. Switchbacks lead to a couple of overlooks of the falls before the trail becomes too steep to be accessible. The parking lot is not very big so it may fill but it is large enough for RVs.
Lava River Cave Trail is not accessible. Lava Cast Forest Trail is paved and accessible but we skipped it because we didn’t want to drive the 10 mile long gravel road to get to it.
Lava Lands 43.90995, -121.35677