Destination – Panum Crater

Total distance: < 2 miles (loop)  


Elevation changes: +/- 200 feet (approx.)
Entry Trailhead: Panum Crater
Exit Trailhead: Panum Crater

Of the many low hanging fruit hike in Eastern Sierra, Panum Crater has to be one of the good ones.  For a mere 200 feet climb that is short, you gain enough elevation to see Mono Lake and basin, and also the part of Sierra Nevada that is the eastern border of Yosemite National Park.


To get there, drive on US-395 and take 120 East to Benton.  After 3 miles, you should see a dirt road on your left that may not be marked.  This dirt road is not too rough and easily accessible with sedan.  It should be pretty obvious where you can park as you follow along on the dirt road.  Below is a picture looking at the dirt road from Panum Crater:


There are two hiking trails, one around the rim and the other to the top of the cone.  Due to volcanic activity in the recent 600-700 years ago, the trail is littered with obsidian.




Once on top, from one direction you can see the Sierra Nevada (here a picture with Gary as a model):


Or to the other direction, Mono Lake itself:



The whole hike took less than 1 hour and I think the scenary was well worth the minimal effort you put in!

Topo map created with Garmin Basecamp.  Click here to generate directions to trailhead.



Destination: Lands End Trail, San Francisco

Total distance: 1.4 miles (one way)   Landsend
Elevation changes: +684 ft / -515 ft
Entry Trailhead: Land’s End Trail Eagles Point (next to 870 El Camino Del Mar)
Exit Trailhead: Fort Miley (approximately 2426 El Camino Del Mar)

San Francisco being the metropolitan city is actually well endowed with beautiful nature.  One trail that I often went on because it was close to where I live in San Francisco is the Lands End Trail.  Since I live close to Eagles Point, it is by default my “entry” trailhead but you can hike this in reverse.  If you are going as a group, you can park a car at the end of the trail at Fort Miley, or at Ocean Beach if you are ending the hike with some beach volleyball or bonfire.

Lands End

Lands End, Creative Common photo by Kwong Yee Cheng

The hike itself is not difficult at all, the bump you see from the profile below is a series of stairs that will take you less than 5 minutes to go up.  There are sidetrips to a stone maze shown in the featured image, or the Mile Rock Beach.  Otherwise navigation is very straightforward.





Mile Rock Beach



Ocean Beach


Ocean Beach Sunset


Sutro Baths

Combining this short hike with a trip to Ocean Beach or Sutro Baths is a great way to spend a relaxed afternoon.  Bonfire or eating hobo pack while watching the sunset at Ocean Beach is a major plus as well!


Further reading:

  1. Entry at Bay Area Hiker