Though she is but small, she is mighty. Pilot Butte is an easy 1.8 mile trail to the top of the butte and back. A steep ascent is rewarded by views of the town of Bend, Oregon and the Cascades surrounding it.
Get Ready: Pilot Butte is unmissable once in the city of Bend. Off of NE Greenwood Avenue, the state park’s entrance can be easy to miss. Keep your eyes peeled and turn into what looks like a neighborhood. You will take two left hand turns and arrive at a long parking lot at the base of the Butte. This trail is dog-friendly and heavily trafficked.
Get Set: Once you’ve parked your car, the trailhead is easy to spot. Start walking up a paved path that eventually turns to dirt.
Go: This trail will begin to weave you round and round the butte until you finally reach the top. The path can be quite steep at times, but there are plenty of places to stop and catch your breath. There are even a few benches to sit on if need be. The fresh smells of sage and juniper awaken the senses and help clear the airwaves as you’re sucking in air on the way up. A short .6 miles to the top, you’ll know you’re almost there when the dirt path widens. Soon the road will come into view (There’s also a road path that cars can drive up, sometimes people chose to walk it as well) Once to the top, take your time and walk onto the viewing area. You’ll find informational placards and a dial that points out each of the surrounding mountains. Test your knowledge before you look and see if you know your stuff.
Effort: This hike is great for all skill levels, fitness levels and ages. If you want to kick the difficulty up a notch, run the dang thing.
Takeaway: The butte is one of those perfect hikes for when you don’t have that much time or you don’t want to go to the gym, but you still want a good workout. Oh, and there’s an epic view, too. This is a great hike for kids (and you!) to get your feet wet if you’re not experienced. I always enjoyed doing this hike at sunset or sunrise because the panorama of light on the mountains is truly magnificent.