Paulina Lake is one of two beautiful lakes situated in the summit crater of the massive Newberry Volcano. Because this volcano is still in an active if dormant state, water which seeps deep underground is heated by the magma chamber and then returns to the surface on the north shore of Paulina Lake, creating a wonderful hot springs. Newberry volcano is a shield volcano that covers over 1,200 square miles, making it the largest volcano in the Cascades. It’s shield shape, however, makes it appear more as a long ridge rather the steep sided stratocones common to the west. The majority of eruptions occurring on Newberry consisted of a more fluid lava, like those found in Hawaii, slowly building the volcano in layers. A more violent eruption did occur about 75,000 years ago, creating the Caldera containing both East and Paulina Lakes.
Begin your hike from the Little Crater Trailhead on the eastern shore of Paulina Lake. From here, the trail onc hugs the shoreline as it travels north up the east side of Paulina Lake. You will stroll over cool, rocky sections that jettison out over the lake. Trees cling to these outcrops as they slowly tip towards the water. Then, a little more than half a mile from the Little Crater Trailhead, you will come to the edge of an obsidian flow as it plunges into Paulina Lake. Don’t take any of this volcanic glass, but the trail, boulders along the side, and whole hillside to your right are covered in it. It’s pretty awesome.
After the obsidian flow, the trail will pass through some pretty grassy areas as it rounds the northeast corner of the lake. About ¾ of a mile from the obsidian, the trail will split with a side trail heading to the right down 0.1 miles to the hot springs. These springs are an amazing place the soak your feet, or your whole body, right on the beach of the lake. The springs are found just beneath the gravely surface of the beach, so holes have been dug into the ground that fill with the hot water. The more detached from the lake, the warmer the water is. So kick back and enjoy yourself, soaking in magma heated water on top of a volcano. Sounds pretty badass to me. If when you are done and up for more hiking, follow the trail all the way around Paulina Lake on the Paulina Lakeshore Trail
To reach the trailhead to the Paulina Lake Hot Springs within the Newberry National Volcanic Monument head 23 miles south of Bend or 6 miles north of La Pine on Highway 97. Then, head west on Paulina Lake Road at the big sings directing you to Newberry Caldera and Paulina – East Lakes. Follow the road for 13 miles as it winds up the mountain. Pass by the Welcome Center and the trailhead for Paulina Falls. After passing the road that will take you to the Paulina Lake Lodge, continue along the south shore of the lake for 2 miles. Then, take the turnoff to your left towards the Little Crater Campground. The trailhead will be at the end of the road, 1 mile ahead.
Passes:A Northwest Forest Pass is required at this trailhead.
Dogs: Allowed and must be on a leash.
Usage: Moderate to Heavy
Open Season: The road up to Paulina Lake closes in the winter at 10-mile Snopark, 10 miles from the highway. It usually opens for the season in late May and closes in Mid Novemeber.
Bugs: Mosquitos will likey be present and persistent from late May into the middle of July or so.