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Hiking Paulina Peak

Paulina Peak Hike

Paulina Peak Hike

Paulina Peak is the highest point on Newberry Crater, one of the largest shield volcanos in North America. The 7,985 feet tall summit sits on the edge of a 21 mile-long crater rim. The geology of the area is fascinating. Well east of the Cascades, Paulina Peak offers views that extend from Mount Shasta to Mount Adams. You’ll see not one but two “crater lakes”, an obsidian lava flow and the steep, craggy crater walls. If you’re so inclined, you can soak in a natural hot spring or visit an 80-foot waterfall afterwards.

Trail Details
Summit: 7,985′
Distance: 4.3 miles
Time: 2-3 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 1,393 ft
Dogs: Yes, on leash
When to go: Mid-June to early October
Download GPX
This trail is limited to hiking or trail running. Dogs are allowed on leash, but no mountain bikes. The trail itself sees moderate traffic. There is a road that is open seasonally to the summit, so while the views from the top are awesome, it’s not the pure alpine experience you might find on some peaks.

Getting to the Trailhead

The Paulina Peak Trailhead is 23 miles south of Bend, Oregon on Highway 97, then 13 miles east on Paulina Lake Road. Turn south (right) on Forest Road 2100 500 and you’ll find the trailhead parking about 3/4 mile on the right. A $5 Northwest Forest Pass is required for entry to Newberry National Volcanic Monument, though they also take the National Park annual pass.

You can get driving directions to the Paulina Peak Trailhead via Google Maps here.

Hiking to the Summit of Paulina Peak

The trail is well-engineered, beginning with a gentle, persistent climb through shady forest. The trail to Paulina Peak is part of the longer Crater Rim Trail that’s popular with mountain bikers, though this segment is off-limits to bikes.

The trail actually follows the crater rim pretty closely as you’ll see on the topo map below, but the first half mile looks much like a typical forest trail, with a few glimpses of the lake.

Getting higher up Paulina Peak trail

At about 1.1 miles in, the view opens up and you see Paulina Peak towering above as well as the steep-sloped caldera of the Newberry Crater.

Overlook with a view of Paulina Peak

Here the forest becomes more sparse, dotted with old snags of Whitebark Pine that are over 500 years old. The trail returns to the rim of the crater briefly.

Whitebark Pine killed by beetles

At about the two mile mark, watch closely for the true trail, which veers away from the rim. There is a false trail that hugs a steep section along the rim that should be avoided to prevent erosion. A fall here could be fatal.

At the summit, you are rewarded with tremendous view over the crater, the Cascades to the west and a good portion of Central Oregon. You can even catch a good view of the Big Obsidian Flow.

Awesome panorama from Paulina Peak

There’s also a parking lot and a restroom. Oh well.

When you’ve finished soaking in the views, return to the trailhead via the same trail you ascended.

Paulina Peak Trail Map & Elevation Profile

Download file: OR-six-pack-paulina-peak.gpx

Paulina Peak Tips & Resources

  • At the time of writing, no permits were required. A $5 Northwest Forest Pass or National Parks annual pass is required for entrance to the park.
  • Bring plenty of water, sun protection, and the other ten essentials.

Newberry National Volcanic Monument Weather Forecast

[forecast width=”100%” location=”97739″]

The Central Oregon Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge

Central Oregon Six-Pack of Peaks ChallengePaulina Peak is part of the Central Oregon Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge, a self-paced hiking challenge that takes you up six, iconic peaks–each one a bit higher and tougher.

It’s a challenge in itself, or great training for still bigger adventures. Learn more and sign-up here.

Originally hiked with Joan on July 14, 2017.

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