Our continent has some pretty badass volcanoes, and hiking them is certainly no casual stroll. However, if you’re up for the challenge of conquering these rugged bad boys, you’ll find that the reward is totally with any potential risk. Volcanic areas are landscaped with unsuspecting gifts of nature which are formed after an eruption, providing a huge geothermal playground to explore:
Lassen Peak Trail, California
Lassen Volcanic National Park is composed of four types of volcanic features, which you can get a great view of if you climb Lassen Peak. The hike is not easy, as it ascends 2,000 feet in less than three miles. When you get to the top, you’ll be able to see what’s leftover of an ancient volcanic peak called Mount Tehama, as well as the landscape of an area that was devastated when Lassen last erupted in 1915. After your long hike, camp out a while and enjoy the scenery here, including hot springs and mud cauldrons.
Crater Rim Trail, Kilauea, Hawaii
Hawaii is covered in breathtaking volcanic trails and landscapes, but by far one of the most popular trails is the Crater Rim Trail. This trail is 11 miles long, encircling Kilauea’s summit. The volcano is completely active, so much so that certain parts of the trail may be cut off due to a recent eruption. On the trail, backpackers will be hiking around the rim, where you’ll get to see scenic vistas, steam vents, and the caldera, which have been influenced greatly by the continuous activity of the mountain; a place where lava hasn’t stopped flowing since 1983.
Mt. St. Helens, Washington
When Mt. St. Helens in Washington State erupted in 1980, none of the locals could have ever imagined that this disastrous event would have created beautiful scenery and rich hiking trails. There are several paths to take you up and around, and you can choose a trail based on your level and what you hope to see. The Hummocks Trail is done for the quaint scenery, while Harry’s Ridge is one of the most classic and popular trails for hikers. For an easy hike with children, take the Meta Lake trail, and if you want something unforgettable, then make the stretch from Norway Pass to Mt. Margaret.
Depot Creek Trail, Mount Redoubt, Alaska
Like Hawaii, Alaska has no shortage of volcanic peaks. Less than 200 miles southwest of Anchorage, is Mt. Redoubt. The last eruption took place just 6 years ago, as well as a string of other eruptions throughout the 1900’s. The tallest peak is over 10,000 feet high, and the area is completely remote. You’ll need some climbing gear and experience, but if you’re not so comfortable yet, you can just explore near the bottom. The mountain lies on the border of the US and Canada, and if you hike the US side, go for the Depot Creek Trail. Here you’ll pass Depot Creek Falls and Depot Creek just before the trail gets way more difficult. Depot Creek is not for first-time backpackers or climbers.
Mount Garibaldi, Canada
Mount Garibaldi is located on the Cascade Volcanic arc. For backpackers, there’s certainly a lot to see, so make sure you’ve brought enough supplies. About an hour and a half north of Vancouver is where you’ll find the beginning trailheads for this volcano, which last erupted 10,000 years ago. A popular place to hike here the Elfin Lakes trail, which leads to the east face of the mountain, but other hikers choose to access it via the North Face. The views here are amazing, as there are glaciers and icefields to admire as well as other cool geological features along the way.
Nevado de Colima, Mexico
Nevado de Colima is a dormant volcano, located right next to the most active in the country, Volcan de Fuego. Since Volcan de Fuego is off limits to everyone besides the occasional scientist, if you want to get a glimpse of the action, it’s best to head to Nevado de Colima instead. The peak here is one of the highest in Mexico and it’s all located right in Parque Nacional. It’s a huge destination for backpackers who want to climb and camp out here. You’ll be greeted by grazing cattle even up at 13,000 feet, as well as beautiful scenery to accompany you on your way up.
Paulina Peak, Newberry Crater, Oregon
If you don’t want to leave the mainland to hike the rim of a volcano, then pack your bag and head to the Newberry Crater in Oregon, where you’ll find the 8,000 ft Paulina Peak. This magnificent area will provide you with an interesting mix of hiking and climbing, as well fantastic views once you reach the peak. Hiking to the summit isn’t too difficult, making it a great destination for people who are new to the sport. Camp out here after your journey and enjoy hot springs, waterfalls, crater walls, lava flows, and tons of other amazing geological wonders.