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Paulina Peak: Newberry Volcano's Summit

Paulina Peak is a volcanic peak located in Central Oregon, USA, standing at an elevation of 7,984 feet (2,434 meters) above sea level. The peak is the high point of the (once much taller) Newberry Volcano. It offers impressive views and unique geological formations to explore.


In this article, we'll explore the location, history, and facts about this iconic mountain, as well as other notable peaks in the area.

Paulina Peak


Location

Paulina Peak is located in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, which is part of the Deschutes National Forest in Central Oregon. The peak is situated about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Bend, Oregon, and about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of the Newberry Caldera.


Paulina Peak: At a Glance

  • Location: Central Oregon, USA

  • Height: 7,984 feet (2,434 meters)

  • Mountain Range: Cascade Range

  • Interesting Fact: Paulina Peak is part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, which includes over 50,000 acres of volcanic landscapes, lava flows, and geological formations.

  • Fees/Permits: $5 recreation fee to park at the trailhead.


Paulina Peak with snow

Paulina Peak Trail

The Paulina Peak Trail is a popular summit hike that allows you to reach the top of the mountain. The trail is only 6.1 miles long but is considered to be pretty challenging.


It gains about 1,600 feet in elevation as you climb, including some pretty steep sections that some hikers might find difficult. The trail starts in the Paulina Lake Campground and heads south past the visitor's center on the Crater Rim Trail.


There is also a secondary parking lot on NF Road -500 you can start from if you want to cut off a bit of the hike (but it won't save you that much). At about 6,792', the trail starts heading uphill, gaining elevation quickly. The summit is also the highest point in Newberry National Volcanic Monument at 7,984 feet.

Paulina Peak and Paulina Lake
Paulina Peak and Paulina Lake

Once you enjoy the summit, you'll have to turn around and come down the same way. Throughout part of the year, though, it is possible to drive to the summit if you want to do that instead.


Paulina Peak Avalanche

Despite the relatively low angle of its sides, there is the possibility of a range of accidents occurring on the mountain's slopes, including avalanches.


In March of 2023, there was a tragic accident that killed a snowboarder on the mountain's slopes.


Facts about Paulina Peak

  • Paulina Peak is a part of the Cascade Range, which is a chain of volcanic mountains that extends from British Columbia to Northern California.

  • The peak is located next to Paulina Lake.

  • The peak was formed by volcanic activity over 500,000 years ago and is composed of basaltic andesite and dacite rocks.

  • Paulina Peak is part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, which is home to several other volcanic formations and landscapes, including the Newberry Caldera, Lava Butte, and the Big Obsidian Flow.

  • The peak offers panoramic views of the surrounding volcanic landscapes in Central Oregon, including the Paulina Lakes, East Lake, and the Newberry Caldera.

  • The peak can be accessed by a scenic drive up Paulina Peak Road, which is open from late spring to early fall, depending on weather conditions.


Looking Down at Paulina Lake


Mountains Near Paulina Peak

In addition to Paulina Peak, Central Oregon is home to several other notable peaks and volcanic formations. Some of the most popular include:


Mount Bachelor (9,068 feet)

Mount Bachelor

Located about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northwest of Paulina Peak, Mount Bachelor is a stratovolcano that rises to a height of 9,068 feet (2,764 meters) above sea level.


The mountain is home to a popular ski resort and offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, and snow sports.


South Sister (10,358 feet)

South Sister

Located about 40 miles (64 kilometers) northwest of Paulina Peak, South Sister is the third-highest peak in Oregon, standing at an elevation of 10,358 feet (3,157 meters) above sea level. It's right next to North Sister and Middle Sister. Also nearby is Broken Top.


The mountain is part of the Three Sisters Wilderness area and offers a challenging but rewarding climb for experienced hikers and mountaineers.


Mount Thielsen (9,182 feet)

Mount Thielsen

Mount Thielsen, also known as the "lightning rod of Oregon," is a less-prominent peak in central Oregon. It's part of Diamond Peak Wilderness in the Cascade Range and was first climbed in 1883.


Mount Washington (7,794 feet)

Mount Washington

This stratovolcano is located in the Cascade Range and stands at 7,794 feet (2,376 meters). It is a popular destination for hiking and mountaineering.


Mount Jefferson (10,497 feet)

Mount Jefferson

This stratovolcano is the second-highest peak in Oregon, standing at 10,497 feet (3,199 meters). It is located in the Cascade Range and is a popular destination for hiking and mountaineering.


Camping at Paulina Peak

There are a few different options for camping at Paulina Peak that you might want to take a look at. They include:


Little Crater Campground

Little Crater Campground on the edge of Paulina Lake is a beautiful, very convenient campsite. It has 49 sites for RVs, tents, and trailers. The campground is only open during summer, though.


McKay Crossing Campground

The McKay Crossing Campground is another good option near the lake. It's somewhat more secluded than the other two campgrounds and is popular among birders. The campground does not offer electricity, but there is plenty of room for trailers and RVs.


East Lake Campground

East Lake Campground offers 29 nicely-sized single sites near Paulina Lake. The campground has space for tents, trailers, and RVs, but make sure to check ahead of time if you have a really long RV or trailer. The sites are all pretty close to the water and can be a bit windy. This campground is known as a great fishing spot.


FAQs

Can you drive to the top of Paulina Peak?

Yes, in the summer, you're allowed to drive to the top of Paulina Peak. Usually, the road closes sometime in October.


How much elevation gain is at Paulina Peak?

If you're hiking from the campground, you'll have to deal with around 1,600' of elevation gain. The mountain itself is 7,984 feet (2,434 meters) above sea level.


How long does it take to hike around Paulina Lake?

It usually takes around 2.5 hours. The hike is quite long at 7.5 miles, but it's almost entirely flat.


How high is Paulina Lake?

Paulina Lake is located at an elevation of 6,331'.


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