Little Belknap Crater

The Pacific Crest Trail and Mt. Washington

  • Moderate
  • 5.2 miles round trip
  • 1100 feet elevation gain
  • Open mid-July through October
  • Use: hikers, horses

Much of the raw-looking lava at McKenzie Pass comes from Belknap Crater and its dark twin, Little Belknap. Both mountains keep a low profile among the High Cascades’ peaks, yet on average they’ve erupted every 1000 years since the Ice Age.

This hike along the Pacific Crest Trail follows a lava flow to its source in a throat-shaped cave atop Little Belknap. Along the way the route passes lava bombs, pressure ridges, and forested islands left in the aftermath of the eruption. Tennis shoes aren’t recommended on the path’s jagged lava cinders.

Start by driving …

This chapter is an excerpt from 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Central Oregon Cascades.