Walk between walls of rock at the aptly named Crack in the Ground volcanic fissure, located 82 miles southeast of Bend. The fissure is over two miles long and up to 70 feet deep, and it offers a unique hiking experience to those who love to be face-to-face with the bones of the Earth.
Crack in the Ground marks the western edge of a small volcanic-tectonic depression formed by lava flows from Green Mountain. When the lava hit a concealed fault zone and then cooled, the earth fractured along the fault’s hingeline. Now the broken ground is stable and dry thanks to the arid environment.
A maintained trail runs along the length of Crack in the Ground, and hikers can walk along its length and explore its tributaries. Although the trail is only a quarter-mile long, the narrow path, with just a sliver of sky above, makes the walk feel much longer. There’s more to see down there than rock formations; check out a variety of mosses, get some exercise clambering over boulders, and appreciate the straggly vegetation straining towards the slice of big blue up above.
Wear your good hiking boots, as the ground is sandy and full of lose rocks. Also, expect the environment along the fissure’s bottom to be cooler than the surface, sometimes as much as 20 degrees.
From the town of Christmas Valley, travel north about seven miles on the Crack in the Ground Road until you hit a parking area. Parking and the hike are free.