Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint is located east of the Hwy 97/Hwy 20 JCT in Bend, 1.7 mi. East toward Burns on Hwy 20 (Greenwood Ave). CLOSES for WINTER - GATE CLOSES at 8pm
*RATED: EASY to Moderate--Paved Road; or Moderate--Trail Hike / Kid- and Pet-friendly, recommend leash(cars) / No water / vault-toilets / 1.1-mile ascent on paved road for driving/hiking, or approx. 1-mile dirt trail for hiking/ Photo-op!
Pilot Butte - Bend, OR ~ Heading east of the Hwy 97/20 Junction in the middle of Bend, drive East on Hwy 20 1.7 miles. At the base of Pilot Butte, a reddish cinder-cone that rises 500 ft. in elevation above the city, you will take a left in a turn-lane onto the gated, paved road to the top (Gates close at 8pm). It's a one-lane road, drive slowly and be aware of the many hikers, children and pets along the way. The dirt trail path takes off to the left of the paved road just as you turn from the highway onto the Pilot Butte road.
If you drive to the top, be careful of the many hikers, children and pets hiking up and down the paved road.
The road winds and winds up and around the cinder cone to the top. With nearly a million visitors a year, this scenic viewpoint sees a lot of traffic, and once you reach the summit, you can immediately see why. The view from the top is amazing. You have a 360-degree view of the mountains and surrounding area.
A great hike for parents and kids ... but who's getting the exercise here??? The city of Bend and Oregon Cascades in the distance.
Once you gain the summit, there is a paving-stone viewpoint with interpretive signs at various intervals with information about the surrounding area. You can see Mt. Hood in the distance looking north of Redmond from this angle (see below).
Interpretive Signs have information on the surrounding areas. Mt. Hood in the distance, middle.
In the center of the viewpoint, you will find a stone-metal sculpture that identifies the surrounding mountains and distances.
Surrounding Mountain Identifier
Pilot Butte was donated to the State of Oregon for a park in memory of Terrence Hardington Foley by three individuals in 1928. There is a stone memorial identifying the benefactors of this great gift to the people of Oregon.
Pilot Butte State Park Memorial
There is a vault toilet at the top and a fountain; however, the water fountain wasn't operational. I would suggest bringing your own water, and also water for pets. There is seating in the viewing areas for those wanting a rest.
Fall is a great time of year for this hike, as it is cooler during the day and the surrounding color is breath-taking. When we went to the top, the slash-burning in Sisters created haze toward the Cascades which took away from the photo-opportunities; however, I was able to still capture some decent shots of the surrounding fall colors.
Visitor viewing the Three Sisters of the Oregon Cascades overlooking the city of Bend.
All-in-all, there were a lot of hikers on this path, folks with strollers and pets on leash. I think it is a wonderful hike, great exercise, a beautiful view and the air was clean and smelled of sagebrush. This hike is definitely worth taking time to walk--or a few minutes to drive--to the top for a bird's-eye perspective of Central Oregon. I would suggest early morning or late afternoon/early evening for sunrise or sunset for a more spectacular hiking and viewing experience.
I didn't find any information about when this park closes for Winter... I suspect it does once the snow flies in Central Oregon. For more information on the park, call 1-800-551-6949.
Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint
~ Central Oregon Daytrips & Day Hikes