Hike to Hole in the Ground, one of author William L. Sullivan’s favorite high desert destinations! This weird, half-mile-wide pit really looks like a meteorite crater, but it is in fact a volcanic maar, a crater left when a bubble of magma rose to the surface, hit ground water, and exploded. Explore the crater on an easy 1.9-mile loop with just 400 feet of elevation gain.
William L. Sulllivan is the author of 21 books, including “100 Hikes in Eastern Oregon” and “Listening for Coyote.” Learn more at www.oregonhiking.com.
From Bend, drive Highway 97 south 29 miles and turn left at a “Silver Lake” pointer onto Highway 31 for 22 miles. At milepost 22, follow a “Hole in the Ground” pointer left onto gravel Breakup Road 3125 for 3 miles. Then fork right onto washboard gravel Road 3130 for 1.2 miles to a powerline, and turn left on bumpy Road 200 for 0.2 mile to the crater rim (GPS location 43.4128, -121.2053).
Park here and hike straight ahead on a steep, dusty trail 0.5 mile down to a small central playa in the bottom of the crater. Continue straight on an ancient roadbed for 1.2 miles, spiraling up to the right through ponderosa pine woods. Then continue 0.6 mile to the right around the crater rim on a dirt road to return to your car on the loop.