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Three Sisters Trail



8.0 mile 12.8 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 196' 60 m
Descent: -396' -121 m
High: 4,631' 1,412 m
Low: 4,293' 1,308 m


Avg Grade: 1% (1°)
Max Grade: 6% (3°)


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An exposed, underused trail that offers expansive views of Lava Beds NM wilderness.


Features Views · Wildflowers

You'll need to obtain and display a cave permit whether or not you plan to enter any of the caves. These permits are available for free at the entrance station or visitor center.


The trailhead is located along Loop A of Indian Well Campground. Limited parking is available near the trailhead.

Follow the trail east into Lava Beds NM wilderness as it slightly descends across an exposed expanse of brushes and wildflowers. Along the first mile of the trail, a collapsed lava tube periodically appears near the trail. Eventually, the trail moves over an ancient lava flow sparsely studded with juniper trees. Continue east through the exposed landscape then follow the trail north along an old dirt road. Moving north, the trail briefly leaves Lava Beds NM and enters Modoc National Forest. A faint fork in the trail will appear where the options are to continue north or turn west; turn west to continue along Three Sisters Trail. Taking the trail north only leads to more dirt roads and miles of exposed, open wilderness.

The northern portion of this trail is unlike the southern portion. Whereas the southern portion of the trail contained patches of juniper trees, the northern portion contains nearly none. Continue to follow the trail west over this exposed trail as it begins a slow ascent across an ancient lava flow. Three cinder cones to the north of the trail, the Three Sisters, are easily visible. Follow the trail to where it ends at a junction with Lyons Trail.

To make an excellent loop through the wilderness area of the monument and back to the campground, connect this trail with Lyons Trail, Skull Cave Road, Missing Link Trail, and Bunchgrass Trail. The loop is around 10 miles long.

Also along this trail are dozens of backcountry lava tube caves. Look for openings in the ground along the route.

This trail is also excellent for backcountry camping as it doesn't see much traffic considering there are no water sources in the monument and little shade.

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We need help with the following missing trail information:

Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Flora & Fauna


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May 31, 2019
Bruce Hope
Parked at Skull Cave. Day use parking at the campground seem non-existent.

Trail Ratings

  3.7 from 3 votes


  3.7 from 3 votes
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in California


4 Views Last Month
625 Since Sep 3, 2015



The Three Sisters from the Three Sisters Trail
Jun 1, 2019 near Tulelake, CA
Going west on the Three Sisters Trail with Schonchin Butte in the distance.
Jun 1, 2019 near Tulelake, CA


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