- Trip Name: Paulina Peak Trail
- Trip Length: 6.2 miles out and back (with a 4 mile out and back option, see trail description for details)
- Trip Time: 3-4 hours
- Best time to visit: Late spring to early fall
- Difficulty rating: 5 (relatively short, steep in some places)
- Views: 10
- Wilderness experience: 3
- Recommended activities: Day hike
- Best for: Hikers, runners, families, dogs
- Restroom: Yes, at trailhead and summit
- Permit: Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annual pass, $5 day use fee payable on-site)
- Recommended map: Central Oregon hiking Trail Map by AdventureMaps.net
- Click here to download our FREE topo trail map
- Click here to download this Trail Guide as a PDF
- Click here to purchase the GPS file for this hike ($3)
- Click here to check out our photos from this hike
Trip Technical Data
- Trailhead: Paulina Peak Trail
- Trailhead Elevation: 6,364 feet
- Elevation Gain: 1,620 feet
- High Point: 7,984 feet on the summit of Paulina Peak
Driving Directions to Trailhead from Bend:
Travel Time: 45 minutes
Head south on Highway 97 from Bend and travel about 23 miles towards LaPine, Oregon. Take a left onto Paulina Lake Road. There is very good signage at this intersection for Paulina Lake, Newberry Crater and East Lakes. Paulina Lake Road then winds its way up to Paulina Lake for 13 miles. At this point you will reach the Paulina Lake Visitor Center on your right and you will want to park in the day-use lot across the street on your left.
This is one of the most beautiful and scenic hikes I have had the pleasure to complete in Central Oregon. Starting from the drive up Paulina Lake Road to the view of Paulina Lake from the parking lot to the many vistas along the trail and finally the 360 degree view of the Cascade Mountains and high desert from the summit of Paulina Peak there is natural beauty everywhere. Meandering through lodgepole pine and hemlock forests you gradually, and then more rapidly, gain over 1,600 feet on your way to the nearly treeless summit where there are endless spots to sit and have lunch and enjoy the view.
Leaving your car, cross the Paulina Lake Road and head towards the Visitor Center. There's a nice big wooden map just out front of the Visitors Center showing a general overview of the whole Newberry National Volcanic Monument and indicating where you are and the trail you are about to climb.
From here walk to your right and in just a hundred yards you'll see a small trail sign pointing you onto Paulina Peak Trail. Once on the trail you slowly begin to climb, gaining about 200 feet in the first mile of the hike. In this first mile you will notice many standing dead and fallen dead trees reminding us of the massive pine beetle infestation that devastated many of the Central Oregon forests in the last two decades. After the first easy mile you will come to a parking area and cross a gravel road, which leads to the summit, and start a more significant climb. (You can make this a 4 mile hike by taking Paulina Peak Road, which is just pass the Day Use Parking Lot, to this road crossing and hiking from here) From here to the summit there are many steep sections of trial as you gain over 1,400 feet in just over two miles.
At 1.4 miles, as you round a corner, you will get your first great view of the pinnacles that guard Paulina Peak. From this point on there is no shortage of beautiful and far reaching views that provide a good excuse to stop and take a break from the steady climb.
Once you reach the summit be sure to make your way to each side of the parking area and take in the views from each direction. Up close, of course, Paulina Lake and East Lake along with the spectacular Big Obsidian Flow just below you. And farther off in the distance to the northwest you will see the iconic Central Oregon Three Sisters, Broken Top and Mount Bachelor. Looking to the south you can see Diamond Peak, Mount Thielsen, and, on clear days, Mount Shasta in California. North of the Central Oregon Cascades you will spot Mount Jefferson and Mount Hood and to the northeast the smaller, but still amazing, Ochoco Mountains. Be sure to check out our photo galley for more great pictures of our hike and what you can expect!
Once you can tear yourself away from the beauty that surrounds you, follow the same path you ascended back down to Paulina Lake.
Fell free to let us know how your hike was! And share some of you pictures on our Facebook page.