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Pilot Butte State Park & Viewpoint
Pilot Butte is like Bend’s North Star, you can see it from almost anywhere in town, and when you do, you’ll orient yourself in any direction. A visit to the top of this ancient cinder cone is worth adding to your bucket list of things to do in Bend for … read more
Pilot Butte is like Bend’s North Star, you can see it from almost anywhere in town, and when you do, you’ll orient yourself in any direction. A visit to the top of this ancient cinder cone is worth adding to your bucket list of things to do in Bend for the panoramic views of the Cascades towering in procession to the west and big skies and endless high desert to the east.
This “North Star” of Bend’s skyline is a cinder cone created around 190,000 years ago from a now extinct volcano. Standing tall at nearly 500 hundred feet, Pilot Butte makes Bend one of four cities in the US with its own volcano within city limits. How seriously impressive and cool is that?!
Hiking Pilot Butte is one of the best opportunities to see panoramic views of Bend and the surrounding Central Oregon landscape from a short and super sweet hike right in town. Trails are around 2 miles round trip and usually take about an hour. Dogs are welcome but are required to stay on a leash. When the snow falls, grab your snowshoes or add traction to your hiking boots for a trek through amazing snowy scenery. Or during non-ice months, generally Memorial Day weekend through November 1st, the road to the top is open to vehicles for a short spirally drive to the top.
Once you’ve made it to the top, take in spectacular views on one of several benches, or check out some informational signs highlighting points of interest and historical facts for an educational moment. Consider a hike after the sun disappears to capture twinkling stars and constellations or to take in the nighttime spectacle of Bend and the surrounding scenery.
However you decide to make it to the top, be sure to add Pilot Butte State Park & Viewpoint to your checklist of things to discover on your Bend vacation. The inspiring views won’t disappoint.
Hiking Pilot Butte
Distance: 2 miles
Elevation: 452 feet
There are three ways to the top of this 480 ft. butte, either a mile long paved road, a mile long steeper nature trail or the base trail which winds around the extinct volcano. Most people hike up one and down the other (beware of cars on road after 10:00 p.m.). There are spectacular panoramic views of Cascades to the west and high desert to the east.
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