Central Oregon is full of volcanoes — in fact, much of the Bend, Oregon area is built on top of lava flows from an eruption hundreds of thousands of years ago. There are two active volcanoes in the vicinity of Bend. While it makes it tough to build down, it does give the area a very unique look and environment. One of the results from the eruptions is a volcano you can now hike or boat on. Here is how to hike the Newberry Caldera and Paulina Lake, and camp at the Paulina Lake Campground in Central Oregon.

Click the links below to skip to any of the following sections:

Newberry Volcano
Paulina Lake
Driving to the Trailhead
Hiking around Paulina Lake
The Summit
Paulina Visitor Center & Lava Butte
Camping at Paulina Lake
Paulina Lake Campground
Little Crater Campground

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

The Newberry Caldera, or Newberry Volcano, is located around 20 miles south of Bend, Oregon at the the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Although the area appears to have numerous volcanoes, many are actually a part of Newberry because it is a stratovolcano, stretching nearly 75 miles in length and 27 miles in width. In all, there are around 400 vents from Newberry throughout the area.

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Newberry Volcano is considered an active volcano. Of the 400 vents, Lava Butte is a cinder cone that was created during one of Newberry Caldera’s eruptions. There are plenty of other cinder cones in the area, and most of them are a piece of Newberry. In fact, much of Bend is built on top of the lava flow from Newberry eruptions.

The main caldera of Newberry is the Newberry Caldera, which is four miles by five miles wide at the mouth. Within that caldera sits two lakes, Paulina Lake and East Lake.

Newberry Volcano is one of the many active volcanoes in Oregon, and one that scientists believe will erupt very soon.

Here is an article I wrote for another publication about the 2 active volcanoes near Bend.

Paulina Lake

Lake Paulina is located 6,331 feet above sea level, and is one of the two lakes formed when the Newberry Volcano last erupted.

Driving to Paulina Lake Trailhead

There are numerous places you can start your hike around Paulina Lake. To get there from Bend:

  • Take US 97 South for 32 miles
  • Take a left on Paulina Lake Road (Highway 21) for 12 miles
  • Continue onto NF-2120/Paulina-East Lake Rd
  • Take a slight right onto NF-2120
  • Continue straight onto Paulina Lake Rd
  • Merge onto Paulina-East Lake Rd
  • In 7.3 miles, continue onto Newberry Crater Rd
  • You should reach the trailhead in 1.3 miles

Hiking around Paulina Lake

The hike around Paulina Lake is a 7.5-mile loop, and is a beautiful walk for anyone. Although it is fairly flat and an easy hike, it is important to remember it is nearly eight miles so bring plenty of water and make sure you can handle that kind of hike — because it will take you a minimum of a few hours to hike Paulina Lake.

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During the hike, you will pass through the Paulina Lake campground, a few boat docks, and even some beaches, but will be mostly secluded as you go. You will have views of the lake and rim of the caldera nearly the entire time. During the summer, the water turns a beautiful blue.

You will also pass a few areas with beautiful glassy lava rock. Although it’s tempting, it is illegal to take the rocks from the park.

Hiking at Paulina Lake is beautiful, but becomes even more beautiful because of the many Oregon hot springs in the area. The lake is sitting on a volcano after all, and so you can bathe in the heat of that caldera and the geological formations from the last eruption — which was only a little more than 1,000 years ago.

Finding the Summit on the Lake Paulina Trail

While you hike, you will pass a sign that simply says “summit.” Although you may be tired by this point, I would urge you to follow the sign. The trail will take you up some fairly steep switchbacks, but it is only 1/4 mile, and is completely worth it.

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Once you reach the top of Paulina Peak, you will be able to see for miles, including both Paulina Lake and East Lake.

Paulina Visitor Center & Lava Butte

Lava Butte in Central Oregon.

Just across from Paulina Lake is the Paulina Visitor Center, which will help you with information about the area and the volcano that started it all.

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On your way back to Bend, you can also stop by Lava Butte, which will offer a more in-depth presentation on the volcano.

It’s also a beautiful site of its own, with a hike up to the top of Lava Butte — or, in many seasons you can just take a bus to the top and then hike around the rim of the cone.

Paulina Lake Camping

There are a few options for camping at Newberry Volcano and Paulina Lake, including Paulina Lake Campground and Little Crater Campground.

Paulina Lake Campground

Paulina Lake Campground is located on the southwest shore of Lake Paulina, and is only a short walk to the Paulina Falls Day Use Area. There is also a boat launch at the campground. There are 68 single site(s) (51 of the 68 are pull-through). This makes it easy to camp at Paulina Lake, even if you have a boat.

Little Crater Campground

This campground has 50 sites right on the lake, although on a “thin ledge,” according to Recreation.gov. You will also find picnic areas and boat ramps at this campground, as well as drinking water and bathrooms.

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Camping is $18 per night, or $10 for day use and is open June through October.

Although not required, you can reserve either site at 1-877-444-6777 (International 518-885-3639 or TDD 877-833-6777) or at recreation.gov.

Whether you are camping, hiking, or just stopping by to see the lake, the Newberry Volcano is an important site to visit for any visitor to Central Oregon.

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