Hike to Black Butte
Oregon › Black Butte Trail
Added by Jeffrey Green
- Stunning Views
- Great Hiking Exercise
- Gorgeous Photography
- 4 mile out-and-back hike
- Elevation Gain: 1,555 feet
- Summit Elevation: 6,436 feet
- Summit GPS Grid Coordinates 44°23′59″N 121°38′08″W
Just outside of Sisters Oregon is the stunning and popular day hike to the summit Black Butte (Elevation 6,436 feet). At the top, spectacular views of the surrounding Cascades await the intrepid hiker.
To get to the trailhead, turn off of Highway 22 onto National Forest Road (NFR) 11, also known as Green Ridge Road. NFR 11 is 5.5 miles west of Sisters and 2.5 miles east of Black Butte Ranch. Follow NFR 11 north for about 4 miles and then turn left onto Forest Road (FR) 1110, which is a gravel road. Go about 5 miles to a graved parking area at the end of the road. This is the location of the marked Black Butte Trailhead. This is a day use area that requires a $5 paid fee at the trailhead or a displayed Northwest Forest Pass in your vehicle.
The 2 mile hike to the summit of Black Butte is on a well traveled hiking trail. The grade of the trail is not too steep and surprisingly the number of switchbacks is low. Early on you’ll be hiking through a forested area dominated by ponderosa pine. As you get closer to the summit, the forest disperses and alpine vegetation takes over. Wildflowers can be abundant in the right season.
Once at the top, there are a number of interesting structures to check out. In the center is a 62 foot tall fire lookout tower. To the west is two separate fire lookout cabins. The first one is an old D-6 Cupola that was built in 1923 and is currently boarded up. The second cabin was built in 1980 is still used during the fire season. All structures are off limits to visitors, but are gorgeous to check out and photograph.
Volcanoes that can be seen from the summit include Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, North Sister, Middle Sister, South Sister, Broken Top, Mount Jefferson, and Mt. Hood on a very clear day! Additionally, you can catch a glimpse of the stunning Metolius River, which springs to life at the northeastern base of Black Butte.
Be advised that there is no camping allowed on the hiking trail. However, backpack style camping is allowed at the summit. Please don’t interfere with fire lookout operations and pack out all trash. Additionally, lingering snow near the summit may be present until mid-late May.
Overall, I would highly recommend Black Butte as a wonderful day hike. You won’t be disappointed as the spectacular views are well worth the effort. While this hike is categorized as intermediate, kids with hiking experience could make the trip. As always, pack standard hiking essentials and drink plenty of water. Supplies, food, and drinks are available in the nearby town of Sisters, OR a few miles to the east.
- Hiking Boots
- Day Pack
- High Calorie Snacks
- Hiking Stick
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
Backpacking, Camping, Fitness, Hiking, Photography
Spring, Summer, Autumn
Are we missing something?Suggest an edit
ReviewsLeave a Review
Black Butte Epicness!
I don't know if there is a better view in Central Oregon. We drove up the road to the parking lot on the back which feels like you are driving to the top! Conveniently the hike from that parking lot is still a good ways and you feel like you've conquered! Add a little Deschutes Black butte porter in the backpack for the full "black butte" experience and cool structures up top. Go for it!
More Adventures Nearby
Hike to Susan Creek Falls
Oregon / Susan Creek Falls
This hike starts at the main parking lot about a mile away from the falls. The falls are accessed via a very easy, well graded trail developed and maintained by the Oregon BLM.
Hike to the Summit of Fuji Mountain
Oregon / Fuji Mountain Trailhead
Fuji Mountain has been known by mountain bikers for years, since it sits just off the circuit of popular biking routes around Waldo Lake and makes for a notoriously difficult climb on a bike.