The trail passes through a lovely forest, then enters the lava. It is an abrupt transition, with walls of lava suddenly rising above the woodland. Note two treed "islands" in the midst of the lava field. After about two miles, look for a trail to the right; this small path leads about one-third of a mile to rugged Little Belknap Crater. There are many lava tubes in this area, some of them quite deep. Use caution when going off-trail in this unforgiving terrain.
Back on the PCT, continue about another quarter mile, leaving the lava flow and reentering the trees. Watch for a thin, probably unmarked, track on the left. This leads to the base of Belknap Crater, a large, hollow dome. The southerly trails are clearly visible along the side of the dome, but coming down again can be a bit unsettling, as the cinders slide out from underfoot and there is nothing to slow a potential fall. Continue another quarter mile on the PCT to access the easiest trail to the top, along the northeast flank, but note that early in the year this may be under snow. Either way, after enjoying the view from the summit, return the way you came.
|Sunset on Scott Lake
|The southern trail up Big Balknap. Just say no.