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Powell Butte Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Powell Butte summit orchard picnic area (Steve Hart)
Mt. Hood from Powell Butte (bobcat)
Flowering tree near the summit of Powell Butte (Steve Hart)
Stairs, Elderberry Trail, Powell Butte (bobcat)
Old cedar, Cedar Grove Trail, Powell Butte (bobcat)
The loop hike around Powell Butte Nature Park (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Powell Butte TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Powell Butte
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 4.5 miles
  • High point: 612 feet
  • Elevation gain: 530 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Year round
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes


Hike Description

The Powell Butte Nature Park is traversed by a network of trails; the system was extensively refurbished during the construction of Reservoir #2 on the butte and the new trail system was completed in 2015. All trail junctions are now clearly marked with painted metal posts. This loop takes you around the perimeter of the park and mostly covers trail sections not visited in the Powell Butte West Loop Hike. The view from the summit of this 10 million-year-old Boring volcano includes Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams and Mount Rainier as well as Clackamas Butte and Mount Scott to the immediate south and Gresham Buttes to the east. Mount Jefferson and Olallie Butte can also be distinguished on a clear day. A mountain finder circle located at the summit points out all of the visible summits and lists all of their elevations and distances.

There are restrooms on the west side of the new Visitor Center and a display of various pipe sizes in front, including a 90-inch diameter hoop you can walk through. From the drinking fountain in front of the Visitor Center, go left on the Anderegg Trail. Pass a couple of picnic tables and drop down through a field of lupine to turn right on the Wildhorse Trail. This path heads up the slope in the meadow and crosses the gravel East Access Lane. A few yards later the Conduit 5 Lane drops down the slope to Anderegg Loop. Switchback and continue ascending to keep left at a junction with the universal access Mountain View Trail. Switchback again in a grove of alders. The Wildhorse Trail snakes up through a meadow of thistle, lupine, and goldenrod offering expansive views north to Silver Star Mountain, Mount Saint Helens, and beyond. Hike across the meadow summit area of Powell Butte to reach the junction with Summit Lane.

Take a right and walk towards the walnut/apple orchard at the summit of Powell Butte. Immediately to the south, you’ll see Clackamas Butte across Johnson Creek, while to the southwest, the large Boring volcano with the communication towers is Mount Scott. Reach the mountain finder circle, where surroundings peaks are labeled and visible on a clear day: Mount Saint Helens, Silver Star Mountain, Three Corner Rock, Mount Adams, and Mount Hood can be seen to the north and west (You can also look carefully for the summit of Mount Rainier), while Olallie Butte and the top of Mount Jefferson can be discerned to the south.

Return to the junction with the Wildhorse Trail and continue right on Summit Lane. The trail veers to the left of a stand of cottonwoods, offering views east to Gresham Buttes, Broughton Bluff, and Larch Mountain. The summit meadow here is often patrolled by birds of prey looking for field mice or garter snakes. Turn to look south towards Clackamas Butte and Mount Scott. Traversing the meadow still, come to the junction with the South Trail: make a left here.

The South Trail enters coniferous woods of Douglas-fir, big-leaf maple, western hemlock, western red-cedar, and sword fern. A gully runs to the right. Switchback into the gully and cross a creek. The trail makes a level traverse across the south slope of the butte. Then drop to the base of the butte and reach the Cedar Grove-South Trail Junction in a stately grove of western red-cedars. You can go left follow the Cedar Grove Trail out about 150 yards to the Springwater Corridor-Cedar Grove Trail Junction.

Return up the Cedar Grove Trail, passing the junction with the Hawthorn Trail. See the spur leading out to the Ellis Street Trailhead and an old signpost that still designates this the Blacktail Deer Trail. At the Cedar Grove-Douglas-fir Trail Junction, keep left and hike up a gully. The trail leads left to cross a trickling brook under a Douglas-fir-red-cedar-big-leaf maple canopy. Continuing up the main gully, pass an ancient burled Douglas-fir, a Portland Heritage Tree. You’ll also notice some large western red-cedars down in the gully with a patina of green algae on their lower trunks. The trail drops to cross the gully and then switchbacks to an unsigned shortcut leading to the Elderberry Trail. You can go left here to get to the Elderberry Trail (The actual Cedar Grove-Elderberry Trail Junction is just a few yards up the slope).

The Elderberry Trail heads up and makes a traverse above a creek. Head around the west side of the butte and traverse above some back yards, passing the spur to the Raymond Street Trailhead, an alternate start to this hike. The trail drops to get a view of Kelly Butte and then heads up an old road bed. Soon depart from the road bed to keep on the Elderberry Trail. The path undulates along the hillside and exits the woods to dip gently and cross Pipeline Road where it is verged by a corrugated iron ditch. Walk into the leafy woods and trot down about 90 steps to come to Holgate Lane.

Here, go right and pass the Holgate Lane-Elderberry Trail Junction. Follow a galvanized water pipe as you make the gentle ascent before the pipe turns up the forested slope towards the underground reservoirs. Continue on until you reach the Holgate Lane-Pipeline Lane Junction, where, looking east, you’ll catch a good view of Mount Hood on a fine day. Keep left here to take gravel Pipeline Lane along the north side of the buried 50 million gallon reservoirs. At the junction with the North Access Lane, there's a large shed and a yard. Keep left here and pass below the Powell Butte Caretaker’s House before finding the paved Park Center Trail leading off to the right. This trail reaches a junction at a habitat sign for oak savanna (bronze pieces of artwork accompany the habitat signs). Turn left here and pass the forest habitat sign. Come to a junction with the Mountain View Trail and make a left to pass a sitting area with a couple of benches and reach the new Visitor Center and parking area.


Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Dogs on leash
  • Park open 5:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Vehicle access to the parking area:

  • Fall: 7:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. (Labor Day until switch to Pacific Standard Time)
  • Winter: 7:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. (until switch to Daylight Savings Time)
  • Spring: 7:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. (until Memorial Day)
  • Summer: 7:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. (Memorial Day to Labor Day)

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Most of the guidebooks below have not been updated (as of 2016) to include the new trails:
  • PDX Hiking 365 by Matt Reeder
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Take a Hike: Portland by Barbara I. Bond
  • Wild in the City: Exploring the Intertwine by Michael C. Houck & M.J. Cody (editors)
  • Best Short Hikes in Northwest Oregon by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Best Easy Day Hikes: Portland by Lizann Dunegan
  • Nature Walks In and Around Portland by Karen & Terry Whitehill
  • Best Outdoor Adventures Near Portland, Oregon by Adam Sawyer
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Best Trail Runs: Portland, Oregon by Adam W. Chase, Nancy Hobbs, and Yassine Dibboun
  • Trail Running: Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Best Dog Hikes: Oregon edited by Falcon Guides
  • The Dog Lover's Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson
  • Best Hikes With Dogs: Oregon by Ellen Morris Bishop
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan

More Links


Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.