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Lava Cast Forest Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Trail between the old and new lava flows, Lava Cast Forest (bobcat)
Deep cast, Lava Cast Forest (bobcat)
Pines, Lava Cast Forest (bobcat)
Gray rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa), Lava Cast Forest (bobcat)
The interpretive loop at the Lava Cast Forest site (not a GPS Track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Lava Cast Forest TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Lava Cast Forest
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 1.0 miles
  • Elevation gain: 60 feet
  • High Point: 5,785 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Mid-spring through fall
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: On weekends



The Lava Cast Forest, part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, is about 12 miles east of Sunriver. Here, there are actually three lava flows, all of which issued from vents on the north side of the Newberry Caldera. The most recent flow, from just 7,000 years ago, essentially flooded a five-square-mile woodland, encasing the bases of trees in molten rock. Some of these trees were felled in the process; others remained erect. Over the next few hundred years, the scorched trunks rotted away, and what we see are the casts. Actually, what we see are the remains of casts: the site was unprotected for a long time, and early visitors took what they wanted; early photographs show more spectacular molds than you see today. This short interpretive trail leads you around the site, giving explanations about the natural and human history. There is universal access for about half the loop.

Take the paved trail past the restrooms, and enter a forest of lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine, and white fir with sweet-smelling snow brush in the understory. Reach the lava flow, and in addition to the conifers, notice the other plants that have established themselves here: common juniper, wax currant, willow, grouseberry, manzanita, serviceberry, bitterbrush, penstemon, paintbrush, and rabbitbrush. Listen for the squeaks of pikas. Chipmunks scurry about their business. Soon, you’ll begin to see tree molds on both sides of the trail. Broken Top and Mount Bachelor are visible to the west, as is the north rim of the Newberry Caldera, from which this lava flow originated. A sign informs you that the universal access trail ends here.

The trail drops past an interpretive panel telling about the Northwest Rift Zone. As you pass a bench, you’ll hike below an older lava flow, the woods to your right. Now you’ll notice some horizontal tree molds as you head down the slope. The trail ascends to the ponderosa pine bench on the older lava flow. Looking to the west, you’ll see an island of trees which was surrounded by the lava flows, in geological/Hawaiian terms a kipuka (The kipuka can be reached by the short Hoffman Island Trail off of FR 9720). Loop down between the older and newer lava flows, and pass several more tree molds. Finally, walk up a slope through manzanita and snow brush to reach the parking area.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass (or America the Beautiful Pass) required
  • Restrooms, picnic area, interpretive trail
  • Dogs on leash


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Deschutes National Forest
  • Adventure Maps: Bend, Oregon, Trail Map
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Bend – Three Sisters

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • Hiking Oregon’s Geology by Ellen Morris Bishop
  • Day Hiking: Bend and Central Oregon by Brittany Manwill
  • Bend, Overall by Scott Cook
  • 100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades by William L. Sullivan
  • Hiking Oregon by Donna Lynn Ikenberry
  • Day Hikes in Central Oregon by Jan Siegrist
  • Hiking Central Oregon & Beyond by Virginia Meissner
  • Central Oregon: Walks, Hikes & Strolls for Mature Folks by Marsha Johnson
  • Oregon's Southern Cascades: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill

More Links

Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

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