Hike Panum Crater Trail

Rate this Adventure Yosemite Panum Crater Trail

Added by Tori Marsh

Panum Crater is a small dormant crater that erupted in the 14th century, and consists of a central lava dome surrounded by an intact ring of ejecta. This short but sweet hike is perfect hike for geology enthusiasts! 

If you are visiting Mono Lake, the Panum Crater Trail is not to be missed! From 395, take highway 120 east for about 2.5 miles. Look for a small wooden sign for Panum Crater and turn left onto a dirt road. If you reach the turn-off to the South Tufa Area, you have gone too far! After about a mile on the dirt road, you will reach the a dead end, and the parking area underneath the crater. The trail starts to the right of the parking lot. Be sure to read the information board right next to the trail for cool information about the crater!

After ascending for about a half mile, you will reach a junction with a sign demarcating two trails, "rim trail," and "plug trail." The two-mile rim trail encircles the volcano and includes a magnificent panoramic view of Mono Lake and the surrounding valley. The plug trail is only a quarter of a mile long, and brings you the lava dome in the center of the volcano. This is the more popular option since you can see the lava dome. If you don't want to choose, I usually do both and it is very manageable! Both trails are easily demarcated and moderately trafficked.

The entire trail consists of mounds of obsidian and pumice, which can be quite sharp, so be sure to wear sturdy shoes! Also note that collecting rocks and obsidian at the crater or anywhere in the Mono Basin National Scenic Area is prohibited. 

Pack List

  • Water
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Camera
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Activities:

Chillin, Hiking, Photography, Rock Climbing

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

3.3 Miles

Elev. Gain:

874 Feet

Features:

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Lake
Scenic

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Added by Tori Marsh

Adventurer | Photographer | Data geek | Powered by donuts and tacos.

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