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Pilot Butte

Hike (or drive) to the summit of an extinct volcano—all without ever leaving Bend city limits—when you visit Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint on the community’s eastside.

The heart of the park is the 480-foot-tall extinct cinder cone, which formed after a volcanic eruption roughly 188,000 years ago. Today, the 480-foot butte is home to a year-round hiking trail, a seasonal road, and epic views in every direction.

All year long, hikers can depart from a trailhead at Pilot Butte’s base and ascend a gently graded, 1.6-mile (round-trip) trail to the butte’s pancake-flat summit. Drivers, meanwhile, can follow a paved road to the same point; the road is generally open to drivers sunrise to sunset between mid-April and October. (In winter, hikers have the road to themselves.)

Either way, visitors pass stands of gnarled juniper, lemon-scented sagebrush bushes, and springtime wildflower displays—including the star-shaped sand lily and red paintbrush. From the summit, 360-degree views include several Cascade peaks (including the Three Sisters, Mount Jefferson, and Black Butte), the growing city of Bend below, and the shield-shaped Newberry Volcano to the south. A few interpretive panels detail the area’s natural and cultural history.

This is perhaps the most popular place to watch summer sunsets in Bend. Try arriving at least 45 minutes before sunset if you’d like to enjoy the view—and be sure to bring at least two sources of light for the descent if hiking. And if you’re hiking in winter, bring microspikes or other traction devices; portions of the trail don’t receive much sunlight and usually remain snowy or icy through most of the season.

Open Season


Dog Friendly and/or Leash Rules

Dogs are permitted—but must be on a leash no more than 6 feet long.

Best time to visit


Don’t Miss

The views are the star at Pilot Butte; visit in March-April for snow-capped Cascade peaks, in summer for dazzling sunsets, and in autumn to see the city’s fall foliage displays light up in hues of red, orange, and yellow.

Fees or Pass Needed



Horses and mountain bikes are not permitted on the park’s nature trail, and vehicles are not permitted on the road to the Pilot Butte summit between November and mid-April.




Picnic Tables



Parking is available at the summit of Pilot Butte (between mid-April and October) and at the base of the butte on the park’s eastern edge—at the end of NE Linnea Drive.


From downtown Bend, the two-mile drive to Pilot Butte takes less than 10 minutes via Greenwood Avenue (which doubles as Highway 20).

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