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Enjoy a variety of terrain - volcanic, forests, open areas, and lakeshore at one of LVNP's largest backcountry lakes.

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6,435' 1,961 m


6,091' 1,857 m


503' 153 m


507' 155 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (9°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Commonly Backpacked · Geological Significance · Lake · Spring · Views · Wildlife


To run Butte Lake to Snag Lake Trail (West), start at Butte Lake Campground, at its south trailhead that goes to Cinder Cone, a very popular run. Follow this trail south through the fir forest for 0.4 miles to a trail junction pointing the way to East Propect Peak. Continue straight here to begin running Butte Lake to Snag Lake Trail (West).

Very soon, Butte Lake to Snag Lake Trail (West) leaves the forest for a long, barren, volcanic, dark gray, ashy stretch. Cinder Cone comes into view to the left/east. Over the next mile there are several trail junctions - Cinder Cone Trail N. Access (0.9 mile mark), Cinder Cone Trail (1.25 mile mark), Nobles Emigrant Trail (East) (1.45 mile mark), and Cinder Cone Trail S. Connector (1.65 mile mark). At all these trail junctions, follow the arrows to Snag Lake to stay on Butte Lake to Snag Lake Trail (West).

Leaving Cinder Cone behind, the Painted Dunes and then black, rocky Fantastic Lava Beds are next to the trail on the left/east. The trail soon comes to a very small, green, grassy, oasis-like area. After crossing it, the trail continues on over the volcanic ash next to the Fantastic Lava Beds.

At about the 2.2 mile mark the trail veers left/southeast to go through an almost canyon-like stretch for the next 1.1 miles. Here the rocky Fantastic Lava Beds rise straight up on the left, and tall trees are next to the trail on the right. Ahead one only sees forest and Fantastic Lava Beds closing in. At the 3.7 mile mark, the trail bends right, revealing Snag Lake ahead. Still running next to Fantastic Lava Beds, the north end of Snag Lake is reached at the 3.6 mile mark. There's a nice beach here. It's a good place to take a break, admire the lake and surrounding mountains, and snack.

From the north end of Snag Lake, the trail climbs above the lake and runs along its west side. This stretch from here to the trail end, is thinly treed with small bushes and grass. Thus, the views are great. There is an especially good view of nearby Mt. Hoffman, 7,833 ft., to the east on the other side of the lake.

Butte Lake to Snag Lake Trail (West) ends at the south end of Snag Lake at a trail junction with Rainbow Lake Trail and Grassy Creek to Snag Lake Trail.

Flora & Fauna

Barren volcanic ash with an occasional lone fire tree and a small green grass covered spring fed "oasis" in the middle of it. Also stretches of fir forest and grassy areas thinly covered with firs. Deer. Ducks in Snag Lake.


Shared By:

Joan Pendleton

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in Butte Lake


  4.0 from 1 vote
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4 Views Last Month
563 Since Jun 29, 2021
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Snag Lake with prominent Mount Hoffman behind it.  Seen looking southeast from the north end of Snag Lake.
Jun 29, 2021 near Chester, CA
Butte Lake to Snag Lake Trail (West) passes right next to Fantastic Lava Beds (right). Ahead to the northwest, looms forested Prospect Peak.
Jun 29, 2021 near Chester, CA
Approaching the Painted Dunes (center) from the north on Butte Lake to Snag Lake Trail (West).  Mount Harkness (center left), 8,046 ft., is in the far distance to the south.
Jun 29, 2021 near Chester, CA
Fairfield Peak (left) and distant Lassen Peak (right), 10,457 ft., are stunning against the barren volcanic ash on the west side of Cinder Cone.
Jun 29, 2021 near Chester, CA
A bit of spring fed greenery stands out in the dry, barren volcanic ash to the west of Cinder Cone.  Cinder Cone is behind Fantastic Lava Beds on the right. Seen looking north from the trail.
Jun 29, 2021 near Chester, CA
View of Cinder Cone and its trail
Apr 3, 2020 near Chester, CA



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