Panum Crater

Place Name: Mono County

Place Description: State: California
Date: 7/03/2019
Elevation: 7,040 Feet
Prominence: 220 Feet
Miles: 1.5
Elevation Gain: 341 Feet
List: Great Basin Peaks List

  • Difficulty
  • Solitude
  • Kid Friendly
  • Summit Views

Hiking Inside A Volcano Crater

Pretty cool experience hiking through a labyrinth of obsidian boulders and a fun Class 2 scramble to tag the summit.



  • Cool experience
  • Fun class 2 scramble at top
  • Awesome rocks


  • Summit trail peters out
  • No rock collecting allowed
  • Lots of rock hopping

After our ascent of Bodie Peak, I wanted to get in an easy one and knew this was on the Great Basin List. I kind of blindly followed a track that I downloaded with my 8 and 6 year olds thinking this was a marked trail to the summit.

We followed the official Plug Trail around the west side of the crater and the track dropped into a really rocky area where it petered out. I could see a small faint use trail going up the other side, so we descended through the boulders and climbed out. You can clearly see the summit from here and it’s a fun class 2 scramble up the rocks. Me and my son ran up to the top in 5 minutes while my wife and daughter stayed below. The views of Mono Lake are phenomenal.

After scrambling back down, I followed this track out, picking up a faint trail that disappeared into the rocks many times. Lots of Boulder hopping and climbing around through this beautiful maze of obsidian. Did find a few footprints though in the sandy areas. My kids kept thinking they were lost and we were going to die but I told them all we had to do was climb out of the crater and we would be fine. We just kept moving towards the west and then I was able to spot the signs across the crater that marked the official trail.

There was quick sandy descent that I plunged stepped down with my daughter in my arms into the crater. Then we went back up the sandy slope on the other side. We definitely took the scenic route. The hardest part of the trip was obeying the No Collecting signs, as bad as I wanted some chunks of obsidian, we left it all where it lays.