Hiking around Paulina Lake is a wonderful way to see the caldera of Newberry National Volcanic Monument. About 75,000 years ago a massive explosion and subsequent collapse created the caldera, similar to the one that makes up Crater Lake. Whereas Crater Lake’s caldera contains a single lake, the Newberry Caldera has two beautiful lakes separated by subsequent volcanic activity.

A trail circles the shore of Paulina Lake, offering several different recreational opportunities. The many activities to be found along the lakeshore not only include hiking, but also boating, fishing, swimming, camping, and soaking in hot springs.

The Paulina Lake Hot Springs can be found on the north shore of the lake. The hot springs are undeveloped and no camping or fires are allowed. To find the hot springs with the shortest hike, park in the day use lot at the north end of Little Crater Campground and hike approximately a mile and a half counter-clockwise around Paulina Lake. Look for the sign that will direct you to the hot springs along the lake shore. Please do not dig channels or extra pools, this is a primitive and protected hot spring and no ‘enhancements’ should be made.

Topo map and GPX track:


Loop on a well marked trail.


Approximately 7.5 miles

Elevation Gain:

+/- 700 ft, though the trail is mainly flat. The elevation total in my GPS comes from the gentle inclines and declines along the path. There is one sustained climb of a couple hundred feet on the north side of the lake.

Trailhead and Permit Notes:

Newberry National Volcanic Monument requires a $5 daily fee. The annual America the Beautiful Pass can be used here. If no one is at the gate, there is a fee kiosk at the Paulina Visitor Center.

There are a few different parking lots that provide access to the Paulina Lake Loop Trail. You can park in the lot across from the visitor center, the lot at the boat ramp by the Little Crater Trail, or in the small lot at the end of the Little Crater Campground.

Useful Guides and Gear:

Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd

Mountain sports addict. Dog Mom. Craft beer drinker. Tech nerd. The best days are those spent above 10k ft. Meet me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google +


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