A Day of Hiking at Lava Canyon and the Ape Caves

Breakfast is over, your belly is full and you are ready for some fun! Lace up your hiking boots, grab your sunscreen, plenty of water and get going! You’ve got caves and trails to explore.

Ape Caves

If you’re seeking a thrilling hike, look no further than Lava Canyon. Starting on a paved interpretive trail, the hike crosses a springy suspension bridge before plunging into the Lava Canyon Gorge. Once it reaches the bottom of the gorge (a descent which includes climbing down a 30-foot ladder), the trail winds along a steep and narrow trail, passing “The Ship” spur trail, which leads to scenic views of nearby waterfalls. On top of being an exhilarating trip, the trail offers a unique perspective on the power of volcanic eruptions: the gorge was filled by sediment until it was scoured clean by lahar flows during the 1980 eruption. This 5 mile round trip hike with a gain of 1600’ is only available May through November.
Ape Caves is actually a cave! For real! Named after the Scouts who explored the caves in the 1950s you will be lead down into the subterranean lava tubes formed in the thick lava beds. The trail doesn’t connect the two tubes, so you’ll have to choose which one to explore. The lower is the easier of the two, but the upper tube is larger, and both require some care and preparation. Make sure to bring powerful flashlights with well-charged batteries as well as jackets for the consistently chilly caves (temperatures remain 42 degrees in the caves no matter what’s going on outside!) A pleasant, flat 1.3-mile trail through the old forest links the two lava tubes and leads from the trailhead to these underworld entrances. This trail leads through wonderful old forests. About 1 mile out, the trail passes a small crack in the ground. This “skylight” allows hikers to peer into the caves and allows cave explorers to see a bit of sunlight. The trail ends at the upper cave entrance.
This very special 2.6 mile round trip hike is going to have to be one that I hear about when you get back to Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins. I just can’t imagine the thrill YOU are going to have. I will have warm cookies waiting for you when you return!