Historic Black Butte Trail
(And the upper route)
I am a little confused when someone makes the statement, “They made history.”
Don’t we all make history every day? We wake up and do stuff and then it becomes a part of history. Granted, most people don’t want to know that I woke up after sleeping wrong and spent the whole day yesterday with my head cocked to one side like an inquisitive bird. It is history, but it is boring history.
When I saw that the name of this trail is the Historic Black Butte trail, my brain started vibrating up there and I wondered why they call it historic. Is it because it was there before the other, shorter trail? If that’s the case, let me tell you about my stiff neck some more, boring. Let’s just pretend that it was on this trail that bigfoot was first really spotted and instead of the person trying to get a picture, they sat down together and enjoyed some questionable potato salad that they had in their backpack. Nobody believes the story, but it is well known around these parts. It’s historic.
This is a great trail if you are looking for a moderate challenge with a nice length. It gains 3300’ feet, so it is a good climb, and it’s ten miles out and back. The shorter route is 1500’ elevation gain and four miles. Since we are killing two birds with one stone, which is a mean statement, here are the directions to both trailheads coming from Redmond Oregon. First the Historic Trailhead, and here is the upper route trailhead.
The route starts in the pine trees and is flat for the first little bit. The trail is very well marked all along the way, so you don’t have to worry about taking a wrong turn. Once the climb starts, you will find it to be moderate. It’s not steep, it is enough that your cardio pump will beat a little faster. Kind of like when your grade school crush walked by in the classroom and a mixture of true love and confusion coursed through your veins. Oh, what a rush! The thing is, once the climb starts, it stays at the same grade all the way until you first spot the lookout tower. It gets a bit steeper from that point up.
I would describe this bottom section up to the parking lot of the upper trail to be a very nice nature hike. There is a lot of vegetation and sometimes it encroaches on the trail. I like those spots. They are like mystery corridors. Usually, the mystery is solved fifty feet down the trail, and it turns out to be more of the same trail and not a corridor into another dimension, but you don’t know that until you venture into it.
After three miles, you run into the parking lot of the upper trail, there is a restroom just in case all that water you have been chugging requires a pit stop. Please drink your water early and often on the trail. From the parking lot, you keep the leisure climbing and find the first switchback. This will lead to my favorite section of the trail. A long traverse across the side of the Butte. The views of the mountains are good and the steepness of the terrain on which the trail crosses is exciting. It gives the trail a sense of adventure, like we are really doing something here. There are some more corridors along this section and a rocky stair way through some scrubby trees. When we went, the wildflowers were everywhere. The smell of the blooms was a nice treat.
Soon we were at the top of Black Butte. The five miles didn’t seem like five miles to me. At the top, you run into a small bunch of bigger rocks and there are little friends running all over the place. They are used to people and will take nuts right out of your hand, if you are the kind of person that holds nuts in your hand. I think I have a low-grade allergy to them; I feel weird when I eat them. I’m not a big fan, so I’m not a major nut holder. What’s up with peanut butter anyway?
Head over toward the old building and a very nice lookout platform that has been constructed. The views are good and the bench they built into the platform is like a welcome sign for your butt cheeks.
Most times I like to see less people on the trail, this one is busy to very busy and I knew that going in. I expected to run across a lot of travelers, and it was nice to have those short one or two sentence conversations with the folks. Plus, many of them had dogs, you can’t have a bad time when you are meeting dogs. Whenever I meet a dog on the trail, I say, “Hi friend.” Like they are a long-lost friend from way back. They respond in like manner. We get it.
I have included a picture of a couple ladies that we met on the trail, after we spoke for a moment one of them said, “Have a beautiful forever.” It was such a cool statement that I had to get their picture and add them to the story of Black Butte.
This is a good trail anytime of year. If you go in the summer, it will be hot in the upper, exposed section of the trail. If you prepare for that, you will be just fine. It rates a moderate on my exertion scale. Please keep in mind that we all have different scales, and one person may call a trail easy while another may consider it an outside torture chamber. The latter being of the more sedentary vegetable persuasion. We used this as a training climb for Mt Whitney, so this had better be an easy climb for us.
The Black Butte trail is one that you should put yourself on at some point in your life. I would tell you to pack some potato salad just in case you run into you know who, but that stuff doesn’t keep well, and you don’t want to be the person that jacked up Bigfoots lower intestines with questionable potato salad.
Please visit our etsy shop for cool collectibles from some of the locations we visit. We keep this website running through purchases made.
The trail starts out flat among the pine trees
A Trail corridor
Wildflowers are blooming
I like this two-tone flower
Wildflowers on the Butte
Tanka and Washington
The summit is very close
Mount Adams is visible on a clear day
Sure do love Oregon Mountains
One of these ladies hit us with, "Have a beautiful forever"
Had to include them in the Black Butte story.
The summit platform is just on the other side
of this old building
The wildlife is friendly. I was laughing because the little guy and Aaron look like they are both holding phones