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Lava River Cave

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Explore the depths of Northern Arizona's volcanic past with an underground hike.
Near:Flagstaff, AZ
Distance:2 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:60 ft
Hike Time:1 hours
Trail Condition:OK, but a few difficult spots
HikeType:Out and Back

Summary: The elevation profile and .tpo file for this hike only cover the short walk from the parking area to the lava tube entrance.
*Important for your safety* This hike will take you 3/4 (1.5 mi round trip) of a mile underground. Take 2 sources of light per person, one for backup in case the other fails.

The cave floor is very rocky and uneven, sturdy shoes/boots are a good idea and the temperatures of the cave range between 35 and 45 degrees summer and winter so dress appropriatly.
This very unusual hike will take you down a 700,000 year old lava tube discovered by lumbermen around 1915.

Trailhead: From Flagstaff, go northwest on US 180 to mile marker 230 (9 miles). Turn left (W) on FR 245 and follow it 3.6 miles to its intersection with FR 171. Turn left (S) on FR 171 and go 1.0 miles to FR 171B. Follow this .25 miles until its end. The cave entrance is 300 yards east of the end of the road. Look for a large circle of rocks that mark the cave entrance.

(Lat:35.34244 Lon:-111.835)

Trail Guides for Lava River Cave:
Flagstaff Hikes
by Richard and Sherry Mangum (Hexagon Press)

Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: US Forest Service Coconino District
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Dennis Lightfoot, who has posted  3 other hikes on this site. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews  Page 1 of 4   Submit your own review
Reviewed by RB on 5/21/2013
I was the sole survivor. I still can't talk about it without seeing all that blood. BIT was right, they came from the darkness. We couldn't fend them off. And he fell while trying to run on the lava rocks. I went back to help him, but he just yelled at me to keep running. He held them back as long as he could. I barely made it to the light. They don't like the light...

Reviewed by MLS on 9/4/2012
My husband and I did this hike with our sons, ages 6 and 11. We had more trouble with it than they did! It was raining the day we went, which probably made it more challenging than it should have been. With wet shoes, we were constantly slipping on the rocks. I plan to go back again in dry weather. As all the other reviews state, BRING FLASHLIGHTS and EXTRA FLASHLIGHTS! One of ours dropped on the hard floor and broke, which I'm sure happens a lot. Wear long pants and long sleeves. If you don't have hiking shoes, be sure to at least have sneakers with good traction. Hats or hoods are a good idea since water drips from ceiling. Expect to be DIRTY afterwards. Have wipes and change of clothes/shoes in car. No bathrooms!

Reviewed by lg on 9/2/2012
there was so much blood....

Reviewed by DBC on 10/6/2009
Take head gear for protection. There are some low overheads. We wore bike helmets. Two flashlights (per person ) is needed, the LED lights worked great. Check your batteries before leaving home. A jacket is a good idea on the walk in but it felt warmer coming out and more humid (you could see your breath). There is a "Y" in the trail, ver left if you even notice the switch. Turn off your lights every now and then to get the feel of being buried alive, you haven't experienced dark until you see (or not) seen this.

Reviewed by BIT on 4/17/2009
They came from the darkness. We all thought it would be a safe hike. Drums sounding deep within the earth. We all tried to get out. We formed a perimeter. The drums became louder. They were coming!!!

Reviewed by FJ on 6/30/2008
Was an amazing adventure. Be sure to take flashlights-total darkness. Was very cold but an exciting and different thing to do. Would highly recommend it to anyone. Not an adventurous person but we had so much fun. Take a camera and video record the darkness.

Reviewed by Viewer on 9/27/2007
So much fun!! Went on a hot summer day, and enjoyed the coolness of the cave. Definately have a back-up light source.

Reviewed by Melanie on 8/27/2007
This is a great hike for all ages! I wanted to take my class of 4-6th graders but wasn't sure how difficuly a hike it was, so I went ahead of time with my 4-year-old son (who is not an especially atheletic kid). We both did great and went all the way to the back of the cave and out with no problem. My class loved it, too!

Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
Keys: Arizona Hiking, Arizona Trails, Arizona Hikes, Coconino County Hiking, Coconino County Trails, Coconino County Hikes

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