ApproachDifficulty: Class 1
Distance: 1.4 miles round-trip
Elevation Gain: Approximately 500 feet
If Coming from the South: From I-5 take Highway 97 north at the city of Weed to a right turn on California Hwy. 161, also known as Stateline Road. Travel east on CA 161 through the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge to Hill Road. Turn right on Hill road at the West End Grocery Store, following Lava Bed monument signs. Travel south on Hill Road 10 miles until you enter Lava Beds National Monument.
From the Klamath Falls area: Take Oregon Hwy 39 south approximately 20 miles until it enters the town of Merrill, OR. Approximately one mile south of Merrill, turn right (south) on Malone road. Travel south on Malone road approximately 2 miles until you reach Stateline Road 161. Turn left (east) and then take the immediate right at West End Grocery Store onto Hill Road. Travel south on Hill Road 10 miles until you enter Lava Beds National Monument. You will pass the visitor center for Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge on your way to the monument.
For those traveling east on California Hwy 299 from the Redding or Lassen National Volcanic Park areas, travel north at Bieber on Hackamore / Lookout Road (closed in winter) to California Hwy 139. Travel north on CA 139 until meeting directional signs that will direct you to the monument at a left turn. NOTE: This south entrance into the park is paved, but in very poor repair. Drive slowly and carefully around the potholes. The Forest Service is hoping to repair it, if funding is available.
If coming from Medford, OR: Follow the Crater Lake Highway 62 off of Exit 30 until you see signs for Highway 140. Follow Highway 140 East for about 65-70 miles until you reach Klamath Falls. From there follow the same directions as above to reach Schonchin Butte.
Once at the Monument, Schonchin Butte is very well marked and very hard to miss. It will rise up off to the left hand side of the road and the lookout on top is easily visible. When you see the sign for Schonchin Butte just follow it for a little less than a mile to a wider area suitable for several cars at least. From the parking area, just follow the trailhead sign, marked Schonchin Butte trail to the pleasant hike to the summit.
Route DescriptionThe trail to the top is a very gradual climb. You will gain about 500 feet elevation in about 3/4 of a mile. Throughout most of the climb, there will be views from all sides except for the South side. When you near the top, there will be a trail sign that points in two different directions. I chose the one to the left, but I hear the one to the right is more fun and better views. Once at the top there is a lookout tower that has marked photos from every direction labeling the different Buttes and Mountains.
Essential GearSummer - Shorts, t-shirt, water, plenty of sunscreen, tennis shoes or hiking shoes and a camera should suffice.
Winter - Warm headwear (a hat worked just fine for me), at least two warm winter layers, gaitors or snow bibs (in case you want to sit down in the snow), wool socks, Winter boots, snowshoes (although I did not need them for several inches of snow). Water and food and camera as well.