Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 41.73810°N / 121.5283°W
Activities Activities: Hiking, Scrambling, Skiing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 5260 ft / 1603 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Difficulty: Class 1
Distance: 1.4 miles round-trip
Elevation Gain: Approximately 500 feet

Schonchin Butte is Sitiuated in Northern California's Lava Beds National Monument and is the source of one of the largest lava flows in the Monument. It is a Cinder Cone Volcano that is greater than 30,000 years old and has a easy (Class 1) short 1.4 mile round trip from top to bottom. It rises up dramatically and from the summit you can nearly see the whole of the Lava Beds National Monument. Amongst the views seen from the top are Mount Shasta, Mount McLoughlin, Medicine Lake Volcano and on really clear days the South Rim of Crater Lake can be visible as well. Not to mention the numerous buttes rising up throughout the Monument.
Situated at the top of Schonchin Butte is a lookout that was built between 1939 and 1940. It is a staffed fire lookout during the summer months and if you have kids, I believe they have a program where your kids can become honorary lookouts.
Overall the views are quite rewarding for such a short hike/climb

Getting There

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, to the pleasant hike to the summit.


Courtesy of: keema

Schonchin (shaman) Jim was a Modoc Chief who signed a treaty removing his band from Northern California to Oregon in 1864.

Later a Schonchin John joined with another Modoc Chief, Captain Jack, and led a Band of Modocs back to Northern California and the Lava Beds where they succesfully holed up for several months against far superior numbers of U.S. Army. They were finally captured and on October 3, 1873, Captain Jack, Schonchin John and 3 other Modocs were hanged for the uprising and murder of General Edward Canby and the Reverend Eleazer Thomas.

Red Tape

Passes are required for entrance into Lava Beds National Monument. You must have or purchase one of the following:

Seven Day entrance fee - $10
Motorcycle, Bicycle or Walk-in - $5
Campsite Fee - $10
Group Campsite Fee - $3 per person up to $60
Lava Beds Annual Pass - $20
America The Beautiful (National Parks and Federal Lands Recreation Annual Pass - $80
Senior "America The Beautiful" Pass (Lifetime) - $10
Golden Age Passes will still be honored for life
Disabled - Golden Access Pass - FREE

Purchase your "America The Beautiful" Pass here: Click here

No Hunting is allowed within the monument.

Please check with the visitor's center regarding fire conditions and restrictions.

When To Climb

WINTER - Schonchin Butte can be climbed any time of the year. On Average, Lava Beds National Monument doesn't get an awful lot of snow. The road leading to the Ranger Station is plowed during the winter months, so even if there is too much snow on the road leading up to Schonchin Butte, one could easily pull into one of the obvious viewpoints close by and just add a mile or two to the climb. I must add that my wife and I climbed it right after a snow storm in the middle of January and were able to reach the trailhead without much difficulty, although we did put on some chains and all we drive is a little passenger car.
Snowshoes may be something you would want to add to your list of things to bring when climbing this peak but we did just fine climing in snow that was a couple of inches deep. I don't feel an ice axe is warranted, unless you plan to hunt a rabbit with it. Crampons may come in handy if it gets really icy, but still probably unneeded but you should pack them just in case.

SUMMER - During the summer months the trailhead is easily accessed. Just take the necessary precautions (i.e. Sunscreen, sunglasses, plenty of water) as temperatures can easily reach near or above the 100 degree mark.


Camping is allowed in Lava Beds National Monument.

For more information, click here

When camping any time of year, please be prepared for exposure. The camp areas are very open with not much shade or cover. Thanks keema

Mountain Conditions

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2skinners Other Mountain Pages

Feel free to check out my other mountain pages and pictures as well.

Hippo Butte
Red Buttes

Ebright Azimuth

Bolan Mountain
Crater Lake Caldera
Grizzly Peak
Lower Table Rock
Mount Ashland
Mount Thielsen
Soda Mountain
South Sister
Upper Table Rock

Discovery Peak
Colonel Bob
Mount Pilchuck



Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.