You'll find little shade on this trail, so wear a hat, bathe in sunscreen, and bring plenty of water. In return, you'll get to wander a pleasant old homestead road amid rabbit and bitterbrush and a smattering of desert wildflowers on the gentle northern flank of the immense Medicine Lake Volcano. Along the way, you'll cross old lava flows and peer into numerous sinkholes and collapsed lava tubes. Oh, and watch out for rattlesnakes.
Start at the northern trailhead, on a gated gravel road just west of Hospital Rock. The first two miles is an easy amble along old roadbed, with Mt. Shasta's snowy peak glistening to the west. At the first fork in the road, continue south, now on rougher, overgrown tracks and cross a portion of an old lava flow. At the Juniper Butte trail junction take the right fork around the west side. Just a little ways beyond, a few large juniper trees offer a much-needed respite from the sun.
The trail winds westward, then south again, crossing more ancient lava flows and passing numerous sinkholes and collapsed lava tubes. Look for a natural arch and several short caves created by collapsed tubes. At the junction with the Three Sisters Trail, the route once again becomes easy to follow, one stretch over crumbled red cinders and finally ends at the parking area for Skull Cave. Cool off from your hike and the mid-day heat by descending into the cavernous lava tube for a view of the 110-foot deep ice chamber at the bottom.
-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, BoscoMountainPhoto
- Distance: 15.4
Location: 41.830932, -121.473103
The north end of the Lyons Trail begins on a short gravel road, just west of the Hospital Rock parking area.
Location: 41.830231, -121.47312
Log your party number and entry time on the hiker register. Follow old road south.
Location: 41.81249, -121.456674
Trail junction. The better road turns east at this point; continue south on overgrown, degraded tracks.
Location: 41.809905, -121.455789
Cross an old surface lava flow. Trail is extremely thin through this area–be watchful.
Location: 41.80688, -121.453322
Pass a large, fenced juniper just east of the trail.
Location: 41.795149, -121.451489
Juniper Butte trail junction; continue south, veering right.
Location: 41.79237, -121.452815
A large, shady juniper tree offers some respite from the mid-day sun.
Location: 41.790608, -121.453739
Another shady juniper.
Location: 41.778808, -121.459106
Enter an area dotted with lava sinkholes.
Location: 41.773571, -121.471811
A few trailside junipers offer a nice shade break.
Location: 41.773724, -121.4736
Spot a long, deep crack in the nearby lava flow.
Location: 41.746962, -121.492643
A sign indicates the Schonchin Spur trail, though it is largely overgrown. Continue south.
Location: 41.746503, -121.492551
A large collapse reveals a natural lava bridge, and debris-choked entrance to a lava tube.
Location: 41.742341, -121.49475
Location: 41.741753, -121.495043
Junction with the Three Sisters Trail; continue south.
Location: 41.741504, -121.495108
Another shady tree to escape the sun.
Location: 41.73814, -121.497105
Large lava tube collapse.
Location: 41.731329, -121.506
Big sinkhole. Look for a faint trail descending down to a lava tube cave.
Location: 41.731243, -121.510377
Trail's end at Skull Cave.
Location: 41.821479, -121.459866
Location: 41.831072, -121.47171
Location: 41.825828, -121.467247
Location: 41.799215, -121.4536
Location: 41.791985, -121.452913
Location: 41.747943, -121.491966
Location: 41.731547, -121.509733