The Rugged Oregon Trail That Has Two Fire Lookouts And Endless Views
Not all hikes are easy strolls through the woods, but some of the more difficult ones have payoffs that make the extra work well worth the effort. Such is the case with the Black Butte Trail. It’s steep, but the views at the top are endless.
Surrounded by the Deschutes National Forest, Black Butte pokes its head up more than 3,000 feet above the forest floor. Once a volcano, this mountain offers some of the most scenic views in central Oregon.
The Black Butte Trail is located near Sisters. Take Highway 20 to Green Ridge Road. Watch for the turnoff onto NF 1110, which takes you to the trailhead's parking lot. The dirt road is suitable for most vehicles, but it's a bumpy ride. Be prepared for washboards and rocks, and take it slow.
The trail makes its way up the mountain to the summit, covering just under two miles each way. Parts of the trail are steep, so wear some sturdy hiking shoes and bring plenty of water.
In the early summer months, you'll be treated to all kinds of wildflowers as you climb.
While the first mile of the trail is a steady but gradual climb, the last mile is more vertical. You'll gain 1,538 feet in elevation during this hike.
This trail is considered moderate, but the last bit is pretty steep, and the second half of the trail is sun-exposed. Keep going...the views are worth it!
At the summit, you'll find two fire lookouts. The small, white building was constructed in 1923.
The modern lookout was built in 1995, and it's staffed with forest service employees who live onsite.
The 62-foot-tall tower provides an excellent viewpoint to survey for fires in the entire valley below. These lookouts aren't available for the public to enter, so just admire them from the outside.
You don't need to climb the fire lookout to see the incredible views, anyway. Far down below, you can see the golf course at Black Butte Ranch, as well as the Sisters and several other mountains.
This trail can get crowded on summer afternoons. For the most pleasant experience, hike on an early weekday morning. The trail will be cooler and less crowded.
As always, practice Leave No Trace principles. Stay on the trail, and make sure you don't leave any trash on the mountain. If you bring your pup, clean up after him.
Have you hiked the Black Butte Trail? Tell us about your adventure!
If you’re looking for another great hike, check out this
trail in the Columbia River Gorge that opened last summer. If you haven’t hiked it yet, now’s the time!
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