On our second day in the park, we hiked the Broken Top Trail which circles the Broken Top Cinder Cone. Along this trail were the Buffalo Caves which we poked around in.
We also explored Dewdrop, Boy Scout, Beauty, and Indian Tunnel lava tube caves.
There was even ice in some of the caves
Going into the caves in the park requires getting a permit from a ranger, and you are asked questions such as, have you been in a cave in the last several years and do you have any clothes / equipment on you that has been into other caves. They are also trying to protect against WNS here. So, since we had none of our caving equipment and only had normal dinky lights, it didn’t feel much like caving. But it was still interesting to see.
During our visit we also checked out the Spatter Cones area, which are like small volcanoes that shoot out a thicker stickier type of lava. The park movie mentioned that these signal that the eruption is nearing an end. We hiked from here down the North Crater Trail back to the North Crater Flow area. This was by far our favorite trail. We had it all to ourselves as most people either didn’t bother with it or went to the first overlook and turned back. This was no wonder, as we recently heard someone say “if we’re walking on this path for more than five minutes we’ll turn around…” What a shame (for them), but not for us.
The North Craters
We got to walk over some of the lava flow area
The large lava flow area from above
The North Crater Flow area showing crater fragments
Originally we thought the trail was 3.5 miles in one direction, so rather than having to hike the entire length in reverse to get back to the car, we left our bikes on one end, planning to bike on the park road to our starting point. Well, it turns out that the trail is 3.5 miles out and back (very misleading in the park pamphlet). So we biked back, which turned out to be much harder than we’d thought. What appeared to be a light uphill grade in the car, was killer on the bike, especially when you add the strong headwind pushing back on us. My lungs were about to explode when we finally made it back to the car! In the end, we thought if we could do it all over again we’d probably just do the return hike! 🙂