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 trek to the top of this extinct cinder cone is worth adding to your bucket list for epic views of town. The paved road is open to cars during non-icy months, or hoof it up several hiking paths for a brisk bit of exercise and bragging rights. 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.