Big Cinder Butte

Elevation: 6,515 ft
Prominence: 645

Livingston Douglas has provided the additional route information and photos found below. Updated December 2019


This volcanic cone is located in Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. As Livingston Douglas points out; “Big Cinder Butte is the highest peak in Craters of the Moon National Monument. In the context of this National Monument, Big Cinder is a big mountain. It stands out from almost any vantage point. The easiest ascent route is via the Wilderness Trail and the Southeast Face.“

Big Cinder Butte viewed from the Tree Molds parking lot.

Big Cinder Butte viewed from the Tree Molds parking lot.

There are numerous lines that will lead you from the parking lot to the peak’s northwestern slopes. The area away from the lava flow is covered by sagebrush, pine and juniper trees and is open in nature and easy to traverse. Please take care of this pristine environment and watch out for rattlesnakes.

The upper western slope is a land of cinders.

The upper western slope is a land of cinders.

The summit of Big Cinder Butte.

The summit of Big Cinder Butte.

Looking at the volcanic terrain from the summit.

Looking at the volcanic terrain from the summit.

Another approach is via the Wilderness Trail. The Park Service describes the Wilderness Trail as follows.

Wilderness Trail

The Wilderness Trail leads four miles from the Tree Molds parking lot to the Sentinel. The Lava Trees and Echo Crater both make good day hike destinations. Most backpackers spend the night at Echo Crater, three miles from the trailhead, but there are also camping opportunities at the Sentinel and beyond.

The Wilderness Trail begins at the Tree Molds parking lot. Walk along the sidewalk approximately 75 yards to a trail on the right. Here you can choose to hike over or around Broken Top cinder cone.

The trail continues past Big Cinder Butte, which rises 700 feet above you. A half mile beyond Big Cinder, look for a series of lava trees and fissures west of the trail. The trail winds between Coyote and Crescent Buttes to Echo Crater. Be sure to climb to the rim for a spectacular view of the row of cinder cones that mark the Great Rift. From the top, it is an easy walk down the south side of the cone. You can go into the crater and find protection from the sun and wind under the limber pines.

The hiking trail becomes less distinct beyond Echo Crater, but can be followed as far as the Sentinel, where it disappears altogether. You can travel cross-country beyond that point; however, dense shrubs and uneven lava make the going slow and sometimes unpleasant. Wear long pants for bush whacking or your legs will get shredded!

See the Park Service Web site.


North Face and East Face Routes by Livingston Douglas

North Face, Class 2

Access’s

Same as for Broken Top. This is the final leg of a traverse from Broken Top to Big Cinder Butte.

The Climb

From the Buffalo Caves, scramble S across lava flows and lava slab rock to reach the gully at the base of the North Face of Big Cinder Butte. Cross the gully and scramble up crumbly lava face rock then loose gravel for a short distance. From here, bash your way up through thick sagebrush and prickly brush to reach some open gravel areas. After a final section of scrub-bashing, you reach the top of Big Cinder Butte. The high point is a massive lava boulder. The summit is a mix of scrub, scattered pines, ground boulders, and protruding rocky outcrops.

East Face, Class 2

The East Face of Big Cinder Butte as viewed from the summit of Half Cone. Livingston Douglas Photo

The East Face of Big Cinder Butte as viewed from the summit of Half Cone. Livingston Douglas Photo

The summit area of Big Cinder Butte. Livingston Douglas Photo

The summit area of Big Cinder Butte. Livingston Douglas Photo

 

Access

Same as for the North Face Route. This is the first leg of a traverse from Big Cinder Butte to Half Cone.

The Descent

From the summit, descend the arduous, thick scrub/prickly brush on the East Face. The underlying loose gravel doesn’t help. Bushwhack through a short section of forest to reach the open terrain of the connecting saddle to Half Cone. The terrain here is mostly open lava gravel.

Mountain Range: Snake River Plain

Year Climbed: 2015

Longitude: -113.5389   Latitude: 43.417

Share this post ...Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail

Comments are closed.