One foot up... two back
Lenox Crater Trail, in Sunset Crater National Monument is a short trail that leads to the top of an extinct cinder cone-type volcano, named (surprise) Lenox Crater.
The hike is fairly straightforward - the parking lot for the trail is signed, and is also a pullout for the Bonito Flow in SCNM, along the main road. After crossing the road, the trail strikes out up the cinder cone. For those that have hiked cinder cones, like SP, before, the experience doesn't change much here. The trail is marked, but not improved over the native cinders. Its tough going for those not used to 7,000 feet or hiking on cinders. Looks can be decieving - the crater doesn't look that tall (and it isn't), but it can take up to 1/2 an hour to reach the summit, where an interperative sign discusses the view to the west of the Cinder Hills and the San Francisco Peaks. This probably isn't a good hike for those that have breathing troubles. I did this trail when I was 19, and it winded me by the top (but I wasn't as serious of a hiker either).
The view is pretty, and if you stop along the way to enjoy the pine forest and the breeze, it doesn't have to be a grueling experience. There is no water at the trailhead, but there is a faucet at the Visitor Center back down the road, and there may be water also at the Sunset Crater turnoff, just up the road from the trailhead (if they're done with all the work there). Because the trail is so steep and cindery, you shouldn't do this without water.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
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.
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