Great Place to Explore
O'Neill Crater (cinder cone) is part of the San Francisco Volcanic Field which covers roughly 4700 square kilometers of Northern Arizona and contains many, many volcanic features including mountains, domes and cinder cones. Famous points of interest in the field include Sunset Crater, Mt. Elden and of course, the San Francisco Peaks.
However, there are a wide variety of small domes and cinder cones in Northern Arizona, all of which are worthy of hiking and exploring (where legal). Nestled outside of a neighborhood in Doney Park, within the Coconino National Forest lies a sweet little cinder cone with lots to explore called O'Neill Crater.
The best place to park and start the hike is at the bottom of a steep/loose and very visible 4x4/Quad trail (N35 15.139/W111 28.237)(see driving directions below). From this point, the trail takes you abruptly UP to a saddle between the two peaks of the cone. The obvious trail turns left and you will see ruin walls just a few feet north of the saddle. The trail going directly left of this first ruin will eventually take you to the top; however, you will pass through many more walled areas/rooms as you climb. The trail to the right of the first ruin will take you into the south-eastern facing cliffs where there are ruins, windbreaks & caves. Eventually, at the end of this second leg, you will climb an easy 10-20 foot cliff section (easy class III) to get to the summit. This latter trail is a bit more difficult and very hard on shoes (solid hiking boots with good soles are highly recommend as the basalt is very sharp and the footing loose). Taking either direction yields many interesting sites and ruins...and the complete lasso is recommended.
At the highpoint on the northern peak, there are 2 easy to find benchmarks.
Pot sherds abound in this area, please follow proper etiquette when exploring and take NOTHING but photographs.. :)
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.