A short drive from the visitor center to Skull Cave leads to the Symbol Bridge trailhead. The trail is fairly easy and level but has loose rocky surfaces in many areas. The trail follows the ridge of a collapsed lava tube to the Big Painted Cave; inside the cave is a thick layer of ice on the floor; the temperatures once in the cave are cool which makes for a nice break from the summer heat. A short walk from the opening of the Big Painted Cave leads to Symbol Bridge; this cave has several unique and interesting petroglyphs that are easy to locate. The hike down into both of the caves is not for those who are unsteady on their feet. Closed-toe hiking boots and caving gear should be worn if you want to thoroughly explore the caves. The Missing Link trailhead is located directly opposite the Symbol Bridge trailhead.
Before entering the caves within Lava Beds National Monument, a free screening pass for the deadly bat disease White-Nose Syndrome must first be obtained from the Visitor Center or Fee Booth.
The Symbol Bridge Trail has a maximum elevation of 4,701 ft (1,433 m), a minimum elevation of 4,564 ft (1,391 m), and an elevation gain of 2,526 ft (770 m) in the [ A to B ] direction.
The following chart shows the total calories that you may expend on the Symbol Bridge Trail while hiking in the [ A to B ] and [ B to A ] direction at a typical speed and is based on gross weight (which includes anything carried), the topography, trail length and trail conditions.
|[ A to B ] or [ B to A ]|
|Steps 1||Length 2||Min Ele 3||Max Ele 4|
|1,972||0.9 mi||4,564 ft||4,701 ft|
|[ A to B ]|
|Time 5||Floors 6||Gain 7||Loss 8|
|24 min||0.0||2,526 ft||1,861 ft|
|[ B to A ]|
|22 min||0.0||1,861 ft||2,526 ft|
The length of the Symbol Bridge Trail is 0.9 mi (1.5 km) or 1,972 steps.
A person in good physical health can hike the Symbol Bridge Trail in 24 min in the [ A to B ] direction, and in 22 min in the [ B to A ] direction.
Download free Symbol Bridge Trail topo maps and the adjoining quads to plan your hike. These are full-sheet, 7.5 Minute (1:24,000 scale) Lava Beds National Monument topographic maps.
Yes, and it's free! The Symbol Bridge Trail is located on the Schonchin Butte topo map. Use the adjoining quadrangle legend to download the map.
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