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Paulina Peak Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Crags and Paulina Lake from the Paulina Peak Trail, Newberry Caldera (bobcat)
Mountain hemlock woods on the lower section of the Crater Rim Trail, Newberry Caldera (bobcat)
Whitebark pine on the rim, Crater Rim Trail (bobcat)
Interpretive sign, Crater Rim Trail (bobcat)
The Big Obsidian Flow from Paulina Peak, Newberry Caldera (bobcat)
The trail route to the top of Paulina Peak (not a GPS Track) (bobcat) Courtesy: USFS/Caltopo
  • Start point: Paulina Lake TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Paulina Peak
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 6.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1610 feet
  • High Point: 7,984 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Summer into Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No



Paulina Peak is the high point on the Newberry Caldera rim, the crater being the remains of one of the most massive shield volcanoes in North America. Originally, the mountain that was here topped out at over 10,000 feet. The volcano erupted at least 12 times between 10,000 and 5,700 B.C. and will almost certainly erupt again. The City of Bend is situated on Newberry's 1,200 square-mile lava field. This hike begins on the shores on Paulina Lake and rises through different conifer types to the summit area, to which you can also drive in spring and fall. On a clear day, the views here are some of the most extensive in Oregon and take in the Cascade Range from Mount Adams in Washington to Mount Shasta in California.

Note that you can reduce the round-trip length of this hike by two miles if you park on the summit road at the Paulina Peak Trailhead. Cars are not allowed to drive all the way up to the Paulina Peak summit in summer.

Walk out to the shore of Paulina Lake. You may see ducks feeding in the marshes here, and you can see the Paulina Lake Lodge on the west shore. An interpretive sign tells about the “This Really, Really Old House,” an archeological dig that investigated a 10,500 year-old dwelling. Walk back towards the road, passing the restrooms, and cross to the Visitor Center. Take the path leading right behind a map sign, and arrive at the Crater Rim-Newberry Crater Trail Junction. Keep straight here to follow the Crater Rim Trail #57 through a lodgepole pine, mountain hemlock, white fir woodland with a lot of deadfall. Cross a road bed and a phone line corridor. Blue diamonds on trees mark this as a cross-country ski trail. You’ll see a concrete water tank to the left as you ascend very gradually for one mile to reach the Paulina Peak Trailhead on the gravel Paulina Peak Road.

It’s two miles from here to the summit of Paulina Peak. Cross the road, and resume the trail up a slope of mountain hemlock. Reach the rim of the caldera and begin to glimpses of Paulina Lake below and the rugged crags of Paulina Peak above. Switchback in a carpet of grouseberry, and head steeply up before the trail swings back to the rim. From here, get your first open view down to Paulina Lake, East Lake, the Central Cone, Little Crater, the Big Obsidian Flow, and up to Paulina Peak. Whitebark pines begin to appear. Pass a monolithic crag and get another sweeping view. The Three Sisters and other snow-capped peaks are visible on the western skyline. Swing away from the rim to make three switchbacks in hemlock/lodgepole woods. The trail levels to reach another viewpoint. An interpretive sign here tells about efforts to save the whitebark pines from blister rust: an epidemic here in the 1950s killed many of the old pines, but they are returning. This is the last point on the Whitebark Pine Nature Trail, which begins at Paulina Peak. Reach the Crater Rim-Paulina Peak Trail Junction, and go left on the Paulina Peak Trail #51.

It’s about a quarter of a mile from the junction to the summit. Whitebark pines are the only conifers now, and open views extend to the Cascade Range. Look for Clark’s nutcrackers practicing their dipping flight through the trees. Make three short switchbacks to the parking area just below the summit of Paulina Peak, the site of a fire lookout from 1914 to 1969. There are restrooms here and interpretive signs at the overlook. Walk a little farther from the far side of the parking area to get a view of the sprawling Big Obsidian Flow. On a very clear day, you can supposedly see from Mount Adams in Washington to Mount Shasta in California as well as all the way southeast in Oregon to Steens Mountain. Summer visitors are usually not so lucky, though.

Descend to your vehicle the way you came.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass (or America the Beautiful Pass) required
  • Restrooms, picnic areas, campgrounds, interpretive trails, boat launch
  • Share trails with mountain bikes and horses
  • Visitor Center open May 27th to October 1st


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Newberry Caldera & Paulina Lakes (Maplets)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Fort Rock Ranger District
  • 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

  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Eastern Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Hiking Oregon’s Geology by Ellen Morris Bishop
  • Day Hiking: Bend and Central Oregon by Brittany Manwill
  • Best Hikes Near Bend by Lizann Dunegan
  • Hiking Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Bend, Overall by Scott Cook
  • Day Hikes in Central Oregon by Jan Siegrist
  • Hiking Central Oregon & Beyond by Virginia Meissner
  • Oregon's Southern Cascades: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Mountain Bike Bend by Katy Bryce
  • Riding Central Oregon Horse Trails by Kim McCarrel

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.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.