The Cinder Cone is so fresh and new looking that pioneers who rolled past here in covered wagons on a branch of the Oregon Trail reported that it was still warm. Current scientific analysis puts its last eruption about 1650.
It is a great hike, a mile or so along Nobles Cutoff (connecting the Oregon Trail to the Sacramento Valley) through a beautiful pine forest. Then the trail climbs very steeply up the cone on an almost angle-of-repose slope.
But the views make the climb worth the effort - the Painted Dunes (volcanic ash drifts) and the Fantastic Lava Beds surround the cone. Also in view are Prospect Peak, a shield volcano, Lassen Peak, a plug dome, and two lava-flow dammed lakes.
(September 22, 2006)