Black Butte

Bend
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Black Butte

Distance: 4.0mi
Elevation: 1,490ft
Time: 1.5-3h

Difficulty Rating:

The trek up to Black Butte is a classic hike near Bend. The views from the top are nothing short of spectacular, well worth the walk.  On a clear day you can see all the way to Mt. Hood.

Getting there

From Bend head north along US-97 for a short ways before turning onto US-20 west toward Sisters. Drive past Sisters, turning right onto the road signed Green Ridge Road. If you pass Black Butte Ranch, you’ve gone too far. Continue along this road (Sundown Rd) for just under 6.4km, then turn left onto Black Butte Road and follow the signs to the Black Butte Trailhead.

About

When to do

Not in winter

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

At trailhead

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Moderate

Route Type

Out and back


Elevation


Detailed Description

Getting to this hike can be challenging as the road turns to dirt and slowly deteriorates as you get closer to the parking area at the Trailhead. It is still passable by most sedans however.

This hike consists of two massive switchbacks leading to Black Butte. First you will head to your left and start ascending the moderately graded trail through the dense forest. This trail is wide and in extremely good condition. After approximately one-third of the hike, you will switch back and start heading to the right.

Soon you will exit the forest and have your first view of the Three Sisters and the smaller Broken Top. These mountains are truly stunning, coming out of nowhere, jutting into the sky. The views get better as you continue climbing!

The trail will start to wind around the east side of Black Butte, going all the way around to the north aspect. After traversing a burnt-out section of forest you will crest the summit of this knoll. There is a forest fire lookout at the very top, which is regularly occupied by Forest Service employees.

There was once a one-room log cabin near the top, for fire lookouts to sleep in, however the Forest Service burned it because it was getting old and decrepit. There remains a cupola-style building at the summit, though it is boarded up. Also, there are many signs that have information about the history of the lookout, and the mountains nearby.

From left to right you’ll be able to see Broken Top, the Three Sisters, Mt Washington, the Three Fingered Jack and Mt Jefferson. On a clear day you will also be able to see Mt. Hood in the distance!

Return to your car the way you came.

Insider Hints

  • If you’re hiking with school-age kids, this hike will feel like an awesome challenge. They will love the feeling of summiting something!

  • A day fee is required to park at the trailhead, which can be paid at the trailhead. If you have a National Parks pass, however, display that on your dash and you can park for free.

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