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Idaho Falls, ID: Hell’s Half Acre

Take an otherworldly trek to the source of an ancient lava flow.

Rating

Watch your step on this 9.4-mile out-and-back in Hell’s Half Acre, a vast, 2000-year-old lava flow full of gaping cracks, jagged rocks, and other potentially painful obstacles. Hiking this unique landscape is an adventure in itself, however, and well worth the fancy footwork. Follow the blue topped poles from the trailhead for half a mile until you see red-topped poles leading to the volcano’s vent, a dark, low-lying hill about 4 miles to the south. It may look close, but plan extra time to navigate the lava ramps, boulders, and other features of this rough, surreal environment. Distance markers every mile help you keep track of your progress. The vent, about 700 feet long and 200 feet wide, is where the lava broke through the surface thousands of years ago. If you’re hiking in late spring, blooming desert flowers, moss, and bright green lichens provide a nice contrast to the miles of monochromatic landscape. -Hike adapted from Trails of Eastern Idaho, by Margaret Fuller and Jerry Painter (Trail Guide Books)

To Trailhead

Head west on US 20 to mile-marker 287. Continue 0.3 mile to a sign marked "Lava Trail." Turn south onto the gravel road and continue 0.25 mile to the trailhead.

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