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.

Happy trails!

Pack List

  • Hiking Boots
  • Day Pack
  • Water
  • High Calorie Snacks
  • Hiking Stick
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
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Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Great views

This is a fairly short but steep hike with great views on a clear day.

Great panoramic views, but one of my least favorite hikes

This is fantastic hike but it's one of my least favorite hikes in the area. You get panoramic views of 6 peaks which was super rad but I didn't like the drier ecosystem and the vantage point from the lookout is pretty far from the mountains. Still a great hike, but I prefer Tumalo Mountain.

Great short, moderately difficult hike with beautiful 360 views of the mountains

We hiked in late November. There was little to no snow. Fun scenic hike, uphill climb, two hours round trip, rewarding views of all the mountains at the top and the historic building fire lookouts from the 1920s.


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