There is an Extinct Volcano in Carlsbad, California…and You Can Hike to the Top!

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Carlsbad volcano

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Attention, San Diego area locals and visitors: there is a volcano in our midst! Yes, I said that right. There’s a volcano in our midst! (I had to repeat myself for dramatic effect). Nestled in the relatively sleepy seaside town of Carlsbad (a.k.a. home) is the Calavera Nature Preserve, where one can go on a leisurely afternoon hike past a tiny lake and to an extinct volcano! Who ever said there’s nothing cool in the suburbs?

The trail itself is a 3.4 mile trek with moderate traffic. Dogs can use the trail as well as long as they are kept on a leash.

The word ‘Calavera’ means ‘skull’ and the name most likely comes from the strange shape of Mount Calavera (more of a hill than a mountain, but what’s in a name?). What’s cool about it is that it’s not actually a mountain at all but instead is actually an extinct 22 million year old volcano! Ok, so it sounds more exciting than it really is when you get there, but the rocks for have an interesting shape to them and it’s kind of fun to know you’re hiking on a volcano. Otherwise this trail is very much like other desert trails in the area. It’s a fun one though, and a decent workout if you’re not looking for too long of a hike.

To get to the trail:

From the 78: Exit Emerald drive and go South. Emerald will become Sunset Drive and you’ll need to follow this for less than a mile before you turn right on Emerald Drive. Then left on Lake Blve. Park at Oak Riparian Park or on the street.

Here’s a fancy schmancy promotional video by the city of Carlsbad that talks about the trail:


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