Sitting more than 3,000' higher than its surrounding plateau, Black Butte offers a fantastic vantage to enjoy unobstructed views looking west towards the Central Oregon Cascades. Heck, the view is so good, there's been several generations of fire lookouts on the summit, and even a popular beer named after the peak.
This trail is just barely steep enough to sneak into our "Strenuous" category, but the leg-burning is limited to only two miles, so we consider this a hike that beginners and children can accomplish with enough time and willpower.
Begin at the well-marked trailhead and climb steadily through ponderosa pine on a solid trail for about a mile. At 5,600', the trail climbs out of the canopy and the rest of the hike is an exposed, dirt-packed traverse across the west side of the peak. Bring plenty of sun protection and water in the summer.
At 1.75 miles, the trail swings north up onto the ridge and crests the broad summit (6,436') at just under 2.0 miles. Follow the braided trail northwest past the current fire lookout to find a ranger cabin and historic lookout. This also happens to be the best viewpoint on the mountain. Enjoy those sweeping views out west to the Three Sisters, Mount Washington, Three Fingered Jack, and Mount Jefferson.
Permits & Tips
Northwest Forest Pass required. Dogs allowed on leash. Toilets available at trailhead. Bring plenty of water, there is no water on the mountain and lots of sun exposure. Free, self-issued wilderness permit also required at trailhead.
How to get there
About 6.0 miles north of Sisters, on Hwy 20/126, turn east onto Road 11, the Green Ridge Road, at Indian Ford Campground.
After 4 miles, make a left at the clearly signed Black Butte Trailhead sign onto Road 1110.
Follow as the road circumnavigates Black Butte counterclockwise for 5.0 miles to arrive at the trailhead (and end of the road).