Black Butte

September 4, 2010

4.17 mile Round Trip

Elevation Gain:
1,554 ft

Min/Max Elevation:
4,889 ft/6,419 ft

KK, Bob, Myself
Black Butte Hiking Photos

Garmin Hiking Stats

Our adventure actually first started with heading to the Head Waters of the Metolius River. Metolius River is a tributary of Lake Billy Chinook near of Sisters. The river flows north from springs near Black Butte. There are many resorts, parks, and camping areas around the Metolius River – a great area to “recreate” (hike, cycle, relax, etc).

The actual head waters were not all exciting to view; however, it is pretty mind blowing to think of how much water flows from the spring! There is a nicely paved path (about .5 round trip) to the Spring Viewing Area. The trail overlooks the spring and on a clear day you can see Mt Jefferson…

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[Bob & KK]

After our “strenuous” .5 mile jaunt we craved for more adventure. Searching through our Pacific Northwest Hiking book we came across a few hikes in the area and narrowed her down to Black Butte.

Black Butte

[Black Butte]

From the map above it seems relatively easy to access – especially considering its close proximity to the Highway. Well, relatively easy are terms that can be defined by which type of vehicle you are driving. It is about a 7 mile drive on washboard gravel – the last mile is hardly maintained with crater sized holes (says my little ford focus) and ruts that can cause some serious damage. Fortunately I only bottomed out twice with minor damage – just a few bumps and bruises. A Northwest Forest Pass is required here, but I felt like after driving up that road you deserved to hike for free!

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For the first mile or so the trail is gradual and climbs through a very dry forest! Just beyond the forest you are blessed with some awesome views of the Central Cascades (cloud permitting). Here is also when the actual terrain of the trail changes from dirt to fine grained sand. The trail is traveled on regularly making it “harder-packed” than it could potentially be – so slipping is not of much a concern versus dust/dirt/sand all over you. What’s not to love – taking a little outdoors home with you??

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[Bob & KK approaching the Fire Watch Tower]

The second mile is where you do most of your climbing (5700ft to 6400ft). For the most part it is pretty easy climbing, but there are a few good pull offs along this narrow trail to let others pass and to take in the views. The Fire Watch Tower is visible the last .5 mile or so and looks pretty far away – a little daunting for some.

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[KK sizing up the Tower]

Unfortunately they do not want people “disturbing the fire watchers” so the bottom portion of the stairs was gaited off. Standing next to the tower looking up it was very disorienting with the clouds moving over so quickly – it looked like the Tower was swaying hardcore!

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[Bob looking East]

We found a solid lunch spot tucked away on the Eastside of the Butte protected from the chilly winds. We looked out at the valley and could see new growth, old growth and recovering areas. The area is so extremely dry that fires are almost inevitable – it just becomes a matter of maintaining control.

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[Bob, KK, G – sweet house atop – used by the firewatchers]

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[Kristin & Pops taking in the sights atop – Sisters in background]

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[On the way down – sort of see Mt Washington in background.. dang clouds!]

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[Taken from the Dee Wright Observatory – Black Butte about 13 miles away… Also, ironically has a similar shape of the State of Oregon – ha]

This was a fun hike with great views of the Cascade Mountains and the Central Oregon High Desert. Due to the length and elevation I would highly recommend this hike to families (we saw many kids on the trail).

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