Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Black Butte Lookout, A Tough Hike But Worth the Effort



On Monday we drove north of Sisters, Oregon to the upper Black Butte trailhead. Chris, our camp host friend at Camp Sherman, met us there for a relatively short hike of 1.9 miles to the top of the stratovolcano, aka butte. What the hike lacked in distance it certainly made up for in elevation. We climbed 1,500 feet to the top, with no let up the entire way.

Jim was trying to talk to Chris, but it’s not easy when you’re climbing, so he used that as an excuse to stop frequently.


About halfway up the trees began to thin out and we finally got a glimpse of the area.

Mt. Washington.


Looking down over Black Butte Ranch, a vacation resort with lodges, cabins, condos, restaurants and golf courses, with the Three Sisters snow covered peaks.


At one point we could see the fire tower at the top of the butte and it sure looked a lot farther up and a long way off. Jim was not enjoying the climb but I cheerfully told him to just keep walking and not look ahead. He doesn’t always appreciate my optimism! By this time we were out in the open and the views were great. I will admit it was a steep trail and a tiring climb, though.


We had hoped for a little clearer day, but it is always exhilarating getting to the top. And there was a bench to sit and eat a bite.

Chris and I taking in the views. Mt. Jefferson on the left and a faint view of Mt. Hood to the right.


There are also several structures on the top, an active manned fire tower.


The old lookout tower, built in 1923 and now on the National Register of Historic Places.


And a cabin which is the private residence of the fire lookout staff. Not a bad place to live.


Sadly the lookout didn’t prevent a fire here in 2009.



Our big wildlife sightings included plenty of begging chipmunks and noisy Clark’s nutcrackers.


And this white-spotted Sawyer beetle.


We had a nice easy walk going back down, but we could sure feel it in our legs yesterday. Clearly we haven’t been doing enough steep trails! No beer was consumed after this hike, we were even too tired for that. If you happen to be a serious hiker and this sounds like just a walk in the park, there is also a lower trailhead which makes it a 5 mile hike up with 3,200 feet of elevation gain.

Yesterday was a day of rest and chores, and Jim took the Subaru in to get new tires installed. May as well take advantage of the no sales tax in Oregon while we’re here.


  1. Whew, that does sound steep. I bet Oregon sells more tires to RVers than any other state.

  2. We do love the no sales tax in Oregon! Glad to read the cats haven't been nuts since last time. We left Budapest this morning, flight was delayed, missed our connecting flight to Calgary, and are spending the night in Frankfurt. I am really ready to be back on the west coast. This has been fun, but I'm tired now.

  3. I had to laugh at myself as I was reading this post. I found myself grinning broadly as I looked at the photos of the snow covered mountains. I just love hiking and being able to constantly view snow capped mts. Stopping to take in the view is my way of taking a rest without telling anyone:) Sure was worth the climb don't you think, Jim!!

    1. It was worth the climb but the views were much better on the way back down than they were up.


    2. Was that because you could actual catch your breath, Jim:)

  4. Wow. WOW! As many times as I have driven past Black Butte, I have never been up it. I don't know that I could make it to the top, but next time, I think I will check it out. RE the prior post, that road behind Mt Bachelor is nice, huh? Did you know that you can take a chair lift part way up Mt Bachelor?

  5. What an awesome trail. There is so much beauty in that area. I love looking at Mt. Washington, Mt Hood, Mt anything. I just love looking at mountains. Great photos.

  6. Beautiful photos but very steep trail! Good for you guys for toughing it out!

  7. You know a white spotted sawyer beetle when you see it? WOW! Who's the entomologist? Really beautiful views but I'm thinking I may like views of water at sea level after going on this one with you. I'm afraid you are in better shape than I am.

  8. Must be time to leave the area if there was a hike with no brewery at the end :-).

  9. It's a darn good thing that the views make those steep trails worth it! I sure would enjoy staying in that fire personnel house...those views would have me mezmerised.

    All year long during our travels we'll think of things we need to buy in OR so we don't have to pay sales tax!

  10. I see the cabin was tied down with cables :)
    Guess the wind blows pretty good up there.
    Box Canyon Mark

    1. Isn't that the old lookout with the cables. I couldn't see cables on the cabin.

    2. Barney, yes that is the old lookout with cables. Look closely and you can see them in the photo. Didn't you get new glasses recently;-)