Don’t leave Central Oregon without taking a hike to the top of Black Butte – a must-see summit with breathtaking views of the region’s volcanoes.
The trail takes travelers up through a dense tree line and then onto open slopes with views of Broken Top, The Three Sisters, Mount Washington and Three Fingered Jack. From the summit, Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood also come into view as part of a 360-degree panorama.
It’s a hike that rewards in any weather conditions, which is a huge plus for an Oregon hike. This is because after a certain elevation, one will literally walk through the clouds, and can then see the tops of the region’s geology rising through the fog. It’s also a terrific spot to watch the sunrise or set from, as you’re almost guaranteed a light show.
Black Butte itself is an old composite volcano, with many more years on its old slopes than any of its neighboring mountains. Geologists place its formation around 780,000 years ago, which is the time of the last magnetic polarity shift on Earth. At the time the rocks of the Butte were molten, and shifted to match the magnetic field, but solidified before the next shift.
Part of Deschutes National Forest, there is a $5 parking fee from May 1 to Sept. 30, but it is free the rest of the year--and always free with a Northwest Forest Pass.
Directions: Drive Highway 20 to Indian Ford Campground (near Milepost 95). Turn north onto paved Green Ridge Road 11, and then turn left about 3.8 miles down onto the gravel road 1110. Travel 5.5 miles to the parking area at the road's end. From there you can find a trail marker.
Click the Learn More button for details about the Black Butte Trailhead and the Northwest Forest Pass from the U.S. Forest Service.