There are 97 named mountains in the Paulina Mountains. This series of summits stand alone and are found within Deschutes County, Oregon. The tallest and most well-known peak in the Paulina Mountains is Paulina Peak, which sits at just 7,969 feet in elevation.
The Paulina Mountains are a visible group of jagged peaks that sit east of the Dalles-California Highway. These summits are actually the remnants of an old crater, known as the Newberry Crater. Although the interior of the crater is not quite as large as nearby Crater Lake, two noteworthy lakes, Paulina Lake and East Lake, and a handful of cone-shaped summits can be found in this region. Interestingly, Paulina Peak serves as the highest point of the Newberry Volcano, a large active stratovolcano that sits just 35 miles east of the crest of the Cascade Range.
The Newberry Volcano covers an area the size of Rhode Island and has repeatedly erupted over 400,000 years. Although the volcano hasn’t erupted recently, its unique composition and numerous volcanic vents make it prone to very explosive and destructive eruptions.
Nevertheless, the volcanic activity in this region has created a truly unique and spectacular landscape. The Newberry National Volcanic Monument, which sits within the Deschutes National Forest, encompasses the most iconic Paulina Mountain peaks and is a popular destination for those interested in experiencing this highly volcanic and exceptional region.
Most of these low-elevation mountains are actually cinder cones that, like Paulina Peak, make up the larger Newberry Volcano and caldera region. The Central pumice cone, for example, is associated with lava flow from the volcano and sits between Paulina Lake and East Lake.
Nestled within the boundaries of the Deschutes National Forest, the Newberry National Volcanic Monument offers visitors an optimal opportunity to be immersed in the Paulina Mountains. The monument contains 50,000 acres of lakes, lava flows, geological features, and incredible cinder cones to explore.
Paulina Peak draws the most visitors and offers sweeping views of the Newberry Caldera, the south and west flanks of the Newberry Volcano, the nearby Cascades, and the Fort Rock Basin. In fact, on a clear day, you might be able to catch a glimpse of Mount Shasta in California or Mount Adams in Washington. Paulina Peak can be accessed via a scenic road or a 6.1-mile out and back trail.
The Newberry Caldera is where most visitors go to experience scenic hiking trails and is the largest developed area in within the national monument. Paulina and East Lake offer ample opportunities for boating, kayaking, or fishing. There are also twelve different trails that range from .25 miles to 21 miles long. Several of these trails offer informative, interpretive signs, picnic areas, and even hot springs for visitors to enjoy. In the winter, this region becomes a popular destination for snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
The Crater Rim Trail, for example, circumnavigates the Newberry Volcano Rim and allows hikers to hike along the rim or drop down to get up close to the lake. There are also a few trails that lead from the Crater Rim Trail to both Paulina Peak and North Paulina Peak.
For a less strenuous option, the Lava River Cave is an interesting adventure that allows visitors to explore a mile-long lava tube. The trek takes approximately 1.5-hours to complete and descends 55 stairs to flat boardwalks and stairways leading through the interesting features of the tube.
Known as the “Unique Oregon Experience,” East Lake Resort is a full-service resort that sits just 45 miles from southeast Bend on the scenic shores of East Lake. The resort is known for its remoteness and sits at the heart of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. 1,050-acre East Lake sits at 6,400 feet in elevation, and is known as one of the best fisheries in Oregon and watercrafts, like fishing boats and pontoons, are available for rent at the resort. There are several classic cabins, tent sites, and RV sites available for rent, as well as a pub-style grill and on-site general store.
The Sunriver Resort, which sits in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, is just minutes from the Newberry National Volcanic Monument and contains over 300 vacation rentals to choose from. Known as a prime Central Oregon destination, Sunriver receives more than 300 days of sunshine and offers an endless amount of outdoor recreation potential. There are more than 40 hiking trails nearby, a state-of-the-art observatory, rafting trips available to cruise down the Deschutes River, and in the winter, plenty of skiing and snowboarding opportunities at nearby Mount Bachelor.
Bend is the largest city near the Paulina Mountains and sits on the eastern edge of the Cascade Range along the Deschutes River. Bend is a popular destination for Oregon explorers looking to partake in a variety of outdoor sports like hiking, mountain biking, fishing, camping, rock climbing, paragliding, and white-water rafting. This charming town also offers ample accommodations, facilities, and a full range of amenities.