Trail Run Project Logo

Skull Cave Trail

Easy

Trail

0.0 mile 0.0 kilometer out and back
100% Runnable
Easy

Elevation

Ascent: 0' 0 m
Descent: 0' 0 m
High: 4,565' 1,391 m
Low: 4,564' 1,391 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 0% (0°)
Max Grade: 0% (0°)

Dogs

No Dogs
Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by QuinTCM TCM

Weather

Getting forecast...

Current trail conditions

Update Conditions
Unknown See History

Navigate on-trail with our free app

iOS App Store Android App Store

A very short, easy trail into one of the most impressive caves in the monument.

QuinTCM TCM

Features Cave

You must first obtain a White-Nose Syndrome Screening Pass from the rangers at the visitor center before entering any caves.

Individual caves are often closed during some portions of the year to allow bats a place to nest and care for their young.

Description

The trailhead is located at the end of Skull Cave Road, which is north of Bunchgrass Overlook and south of Schonchin Butte. Take the road west passed the trailheads for Symbol Bridge Trail and Missing Link Trail to the small parking lot at the end of the road. The trailheads for Skull Cave and Lyons Trail are located at this small parking area.

The trail into Skull Cave is very short and easily traversed. Follow the trail as it descends down the side of the collapsed lava tube and into Skull Cave. Skull Cave is part of the Modoc Crater Lava Tube System and boasts one of the largest entrances of any cave in the park. The cave itself is made of three levels, the upper level being the largest at about 60 feet in diameter. The upper level ends about 450 feet from the entrance of the cave at a series of metal staircases that lead to the lower levels. A small, thin rock bridge is found near the top of these staircases. Following the stairs down, the trail eventually reaches the lowest level of the cave where a perennial ice floor is found. A metal gate keeps visitors from walking on the ice.

Skull cave was named by E.L Hopkins, a prominent figure in the area around the turn of the 19th century, for the large number of bones he and a small crew found in the lowest levels of the cave. Besides bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and antelope, they also found the skeletons of two humans.

The book "Lava Beds Caves" by Charlie & Jo Larson is an excellent resource and guide for exploring the caves of Lava Beds NM. It is available for purchase at the Visitor Center.

Run this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Photos, Need to Know, Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes

Contacts

Rate This Trail

Rate Quality


   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Trail

Check In

Check-Ins

none

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 1 vote

#12465

Overall
  4.0 from 1 vote
5 Star
0%
4 Star
100%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#1,428

in California

#12,465

Overall
4 Views Last Month
166 Since Sep 4, 2015
Easy

100%
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%

0 Comments

Trail Run Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Running