Hike & View Pictures Of The North Crater Trail At Craters Of The Moon National Monument

by Adam on August 14, 2010

The Paved Start Of The North Crater Trail At Craters Of The Moon

The Paved Start Of The North Crater Trail At Craters Of The Moon

The North Crater Trail at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is one of the longer and more scenic trails at Craters of the Moon.  The North Crater Trail is a one-way trail (i.e. not a loop) that starts down at the North Crater Flow trail and goes all the way up to the Spatter Cone area of the park.  The trail covers about 1.5 miles and is about a 3 mile hike unless you are able to get a ride back to the start of the trail.  In order to get back to the starting point you have to walk back along the same path and retrace all of your steps.

The Start Of The Unpaved Section Of The North Crater Trail Starting At The Spatter Cone Area

The Start Of The Unpaved Section Of The North Crater Trail Starting At The Spatter Cone Area

The North Crater Trail starts out paved (if you start near the spatter cones) for a little while and then becomes a fairly rough trail that gets steep, strenuous and challenging in places.  If you plan to hike the North Crater trail be sure to wear athletic shoes or hiking boots and carry at least a liter of water with you.  If you start at the top of the trail near the spatter cones you can hike a bit past the end of the trail to the Lava Flow campground to get a drink of water but if you hike from the North Crater Flow Trail up to the Spatter Cones there will be no water available anywhere along the trail.

The First View Of A Large Volcanic Crater Along The North Crater Trail At Craters Of The Moon

The First View Of A Large Volcanic Crater Along The North Crater Trail At Craters Of The Moon

Assuming you start from the spatter cone area you will hike for a short amount of time on a paved trail that is relatively east but does have a bit of a grade to it.  Once you get off the paved section of the trail, the trail becomes rather rugged, steep and challenging in spots.  There is no shade anywhere along the trail so during your hike you will be exposed to a hot sun and any storms that may pas through the area with nowhere to seek shade or get out of the rain along the way.

A Full View Of A HUGE Crater Along The North Crater Trail At Craters of The Moon

A Full View Of A HUGE Crater Along The North Crater Trail At Craters of The Moon

Along the North Crater trail you will walk along the rim of big craters near the start of the trail (starting from the spatter cones) and then walk down a relatively steep grade and into the North Flank Crater.  You’ll drop into the mouth of the North Crater and finally traverse the North Crater before ending up down near the North Crater Flow self guided trail not far from the Lava Flow campground.

A Pahoehoe Lava Section Of The North Crater Trail At Craters Of The Moon

A Pahoehoe Lava Section Of The North Crater Trail At Craters Of The Moon

Along the trail you will see little if any wildlife especially if you are hiking during the day and not near sunset or sunrise.  There is a little plant life along the trail but not much.  You’ll see lava formations that represent a number of different types of lava flows highlighted on the signs along the North Crater Flow self guiding trail.  You’ll see both Aa Pahoehoe types of lava flows along the North Crater Trail.

A Mix Of Pahoehoe And Aa Lava Flows Along The North Crater Trail At Craters Of The Moon

A Mix Of Pahoehoe And Aa Lava Flows Along The North Crater Trail At Craters Of The Moon

When hiking you may even see a few other people hiking the trail.  Given the remote location of Craters of the Moon and the 51 site capacity of the Lava Flow campground at Crater of the Moon chances are there will not be to many people hiking the trail.  Right in the middle section of the trail there are trail markers (posts) in the ground that mark the trail and it is not always obvious where the trail winds through the landscape.

A Scenic View Of Lava Flows And Distant Mountains Along The North Crater Trail

A Scenic View Of Lava Flows And Distant Mountains Along The North Crater Trail

Along with the North Crater Trail be sure to check out the Caves Trail, The Spatter Cone Trail, The Caves Trail (and the 4 caves along the Cave Trail), Devils Orchard and other trails in Craters of the Moon National Monument.  In August 2010 some of the trails and parking lots at the trail heads were closed for construction and renovations but moving forward in 2011 more hiking trails and parking areas should be open once the construction projects are complete.

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