The Hat Creek Flow is found in the Lassen National Forest of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway region. It is located near the town of Old Station in Shasta County. The name “Hat Creek” came about when one of the surveyors of the Nobles Emigrant Trail dropped his very expensive hat in the creek in 1852. The Hat Creek Flow refers to the lava that was discharged in a series of north-south fissures about 20,000 years ago. This river of lava located near the town of Old Station, crawled northward 16 miles, covering the floor of Hat Creek Valley. While the top crust cooled and hardened, rivers of red-hot lava insulated by newly formed rock above, continued to flow. Eventually, the lava drained away, leaving hundreds of tube-like caves.
There are two points of interest that highlight the Hat Creek Lava Flow - The Spattercone Nature Trail and the Subway Cave. The Nature Trail travels along the origins of the Hat Creek Flow and highlights many spatter cones and other geologic features on its 1.5 mile loop tour. Spatter cones are formed along linear fractures during eruptions with high magma. Hot gases tear liquefied rock into peculiar and anomalous shapes that land around the vent of the volcano. At the entrance of the Nature Trail, you will find picnic tables, toilets, drinking water, and plenty of parking. The trail is mainly exposed so please bring plenty of water. This Nature Trail can be accessed approximately 1.5 miles south of the Hwy 89/44 junction in Old Station.
The entrance to the Subway Cave was formed by a partial collapse of the cave’s roof many years ago. This cave is the largest accessible tube in the flow. The Subway Cave Trailhead is located 1/4 mile north of the Hwy 89/44 junction. The community of Old Station is located 1/2 mile south of the trailhead. In addition to restrooms and water, picnic tables are available for use making this trail an excellent place to stop for a picnic lunch.