Panum Crater (7040 feet) is a small volcanic cone in the Mono Craters area between Mammoth Lakes and Lee Vining. It is only 650 years old which makes it the youngest mountain in the United States. I was in the Mammoth Lakes area for a winter mountaineering course and had a little extra time in the afternoon on the first day. Panum Crater was nearby and was only a short hike to the top, so I decided to climb it before it got dark. From Highway 120 there is a signed dirt road that leads a mile or so north to the trailhead. This road should be passable for any vehicle. I began hiking at 4:20pm from 6825 feet above sea level.
I hiked up the trail towards the small volcano.
There were a few interconnecting trails in the area. I generally went northeast towards the center of the crater.
There were many interesting rock formations. I also noticed lots of obsidian (volcanic glass) on the ground.
There were a few small pine trees in the area.
I went off trail for the last portion as I climbed a rocky slope to the summit.
I reached the summit at 4:41pm at 0.7 mile!
I did not locate a register on the summit. It was very windy and cold, so I hunkered down for a few minutes on the side of the mountain that was protected from the wind. It was storming over the Sierra to the west.
I had a good view of Mono Lake to the north.
And Crater Mountain to the south.
I took a slightly different route down, descending to the south and then west before rejoining my ascent route.
I reached the car at 5:07pm. This hike totaled 1.33 miles, 256 feet elevation gain, and 47:58 total time.