Pilot Butte State Park & Viewpoint
Best Bend City & Mountain Views in Town
Pilot Butte is a little like Bend’s North Star; you can see it from just about anywhere in town and when you do, you can orient yourself accordingly. In fact, it’s the landmark that guided wagon train immigrants who sought a safe crossing of the Deschutes River. Aside from being a handy navigation point, the old cinder cone is a pretty great place to visit. A one-way road winds its way up to the top and back down and is open until dusk as long as there isn’t snow and ice. For more intrepid souls, there are several paths that lead to the top and every turn provides a different view of Bend below and the great expanse of Central Oregon in the distance. The truly committed have made the trek at least a hundred times, earning them a place in the unofficial Century Club. Whether you drive or hike, the view from the top is truly spectacular. Informational signs highlight points of interest and historical facts for those who want to make their visit an educational moment. You’ll also find benches and a low, circular wall where you are welcome to just sit and gaze at stunning mountains, trees, and rock formations for as far as the eye can see.
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.