Best time to travel to California

Subway Cave in California

A unique chance to explore a large lava tube formed thousands of years ago

Best time: May–October

Subway Cave
Subway Cave

This huge rock tunnel is a great hiking trail for those who like exploration. It's just 965 metres long, but it features lots of interesting spots on its way. The cave is part of a lava tube created around twenty thousand years. A large ground brake forced a massive volcanic rock flow. The top of the lava dried on air, while molten rock below continued to flow, forming a tube.

The trail is suitable for every skill level. Concrete steps lead to the entrance and the exit of the cave. First, you enter the section, which is called Devil's kitchen. You continue your tour through the Stubtoe Hall and Wind Tunnel to the next stop—the Lucifer’s cul-de-sac. This is an area with a split. As soon as you get to this point, it's hard to guess where is the right way.

The Sanctum is the largest room inside the cave. Its ceiling is around 1.8 metres high at the entrance, and in some places, it gets up to 4.5 metres. The floor of the cave is rough, so you should wear appropriate shoes. And don't forget the flashlight, though it is obvious, you need to be ready for complete darkness inside the cave.

The constant temperature inside the cave is around 8 degrees Celsius, so a warm jacket is also recommended. The best time to plan a hike at Subway Cave is between the months of May and October.

Practical info

When was the Subway Cave formed?

About twenty thousand years ago, the Subway Cave, a lava tube, was formed during the volcanic activity that created a massive rock flow. Air dried the top layer of lava while molten rock under it continued to flow, leaving a cave-like space. Show more

Where is the Subway Cave located?

The Subway Cave is positioned in Northern California near the town of Old Station. It is situated a few hundred meters east of Highway 44, close to the junction of Highway 44 and 89, in a national park on the west coast of the United States. Show more

What should visitors know before entering the cave?

Before exploring the Subway Cave, visitors should wear proper footwear as the cave floor is rough. They should carry a flashlight as the cave can become dark. The cave has a constant temperature of 8 degrees Celsius, making it chilly inside, so wearing warm layers is advised. Visitors should also remember to bring enough water to avoid dehydration. Show more

What are the most interesting spots in the cave?

Hikers visiting the Subway Cave can explore many exciting spots, including Devil's Kitchen, Stubtoe Hall, Wind Tunnel, and Lucifer’s cul-de-sac. The largest room in the cave is called The Sanctum, featuring a ceiling that measures around 1.8 meters at the entrance and can reach 4.5 meters high in some areas. Show more

When is the best time to visit the Subway Cave in California?

For a comfortable hiking experience, the ideal time to visit the Subway Cave in California is between May and October, when the weather is warm and dry. It is worth noting that heavy snowfall during other months can make access to the cave difficult or impossible. Show more

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