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.
- Sturdy shoes
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
Chillin, Hiking, Photography, Rock Climbing
Spring, Summer, Autumn
Are we missing something?Suggest an edit
ReviewsLeave a Review
Have you done this adventure? Have something to add? You could be the first to leave a review!
More Adventures Nearby
Hike 20 Lakes Basin Loop
Yosemite / 20 Lakes Basin Trailhead
This trail is overall very easy to hike, but the 9.1mi distance at a 10,000ft altitude is what makes it a bit of a doozy for people who aren't frequent hikers.
Hike to Inspiration Point in Yosemite NP
Yosemite / Inspiration Point Yosemite
Inspiration Point is a granite slab located on the mountainside above Tunnel View.