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Black Butte


Gain beautiful views from this short hike to the top of Black Butte.

Hiking Moderate

6.2 km
475 m
475 m
2-3 hrs
Low Point
1.5 km
High Point
2 km
Black Butte Map

Black Butte is an isolated volcanic cone that sits just to the south and east of the towering Mount Jefferson. The butte has two different fire lookouts on top, and thanks to a road that allows you to drive most of the way up, it serves as a popular hiking destination.


Most hikers choose to drive until the end of the road and begin their hike at the upper trailhead, creating a quick 3.6-mile round-trip hike. However, if you’re looking for a more significant challenge, you can start hiking from the base of the cone and climb the entire distance to the summit on singletrack.

The short version of the hike mapped here begins in an old-growth ponderosa forest at a trailhead with restrooms. (Note that a Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead.) After about a mile, "the trail crosses a treeless slope that's white in June with the blooms of serviceberry bushes,” according to Oregon.com. "Expect other wildflowers, too: big yellow balsamroot, purple larkspur, and red paintbrush.”

From here, the path gets very hot and dusty, especially in mid-summer. While plenty of hikers attempt this trail in the heat of the day, due to the exposure, the climb to Black Butte is best attempted either early in the morning, late in the evening, or later in the fall.

Soon the path gains a ridge, making the final push to the summit.

On top of the mountain, you’ll see a fire lookout tower that's still active and manned. Please don’t attempt to enter or climb the tower, as it is off-limits to the public. Keep your eyes peeled for "the concrete footings from a previous lookout tower that was built in 1934 and collapsed in 2001,” according to OregonHikers.org. There’s also a white lookout cupola still standing that was built in 1923.

In addition to the historic structures, you’ll enjoy panoramic views from the top, and will be able to spot Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood, Three Fingered Jack, and the Three Sisters.

Sources: Oregon.com OregonHikers.org



Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between June and October


  • Alpine
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike

Guidebooks in this area