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Powell Butte Summit Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Grant Butte from the Mountain View Trail, Powell Butte (bobcat)
Mt. Hood from Powell Butte (bobcat)
Powell Butte summit orchard picnic area (Steve Hart)
At the Mountain Finder, Powell Butte (bobcat)
Map showing the loop through the summit meadows (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Powell Butte TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point:Powell Butte
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 2.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 220 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: Year round
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes


Hike Description

Powell Butte Nature Park is east Portland's largest natural area. The system of trails here underwent an extensive remodel during construction of the 50 million-gallon Reservoir #2, and new trail alignments and names became official in 2015. This short loop keeps you to the grassy meadows of the summit area: this was former pastureland leased by the Portland Water Bureau to the Anderegg family dairy. As such, the loop is best done on a sunny day when raptors are soaring overhead and the vistas are extensive. 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 Hood is clearly visible, and 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 their elevations and distances.

Note: The Mountain View Trail is a paved universal access trail that will take you to the summit orchard and mountain finder in 0.7 miles.

Start at the Powell Butte Trailhead. The vista from the parking lot includes Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams and a stunning view of Mount Hood. At the new Visitor Center, there are restrooms on the west side of the building and a display of various pipe sizes in front, including a 90-inch diameter hoop you can walk through. Hike up to the left of the Visitor Center, keeping right at the junctions with the Anderegg Trail and a path leading to a sitting area bordered by a split-rail fence. Keep left at then next junction to stay on the Mountain View Trail. Hike up the slope through a line of walnut trees and keep left again at the next junction. The Mountain View trail continues up through the meadow to cross the East Access Lane at the Mountain View Trail-Pipeline Lane-Reservoir Lane-East Access Lane Junction.

Keeping to the paved universal access trail, switchback at a stand of alders. Pass under more alders where a ditch runs below the trail. You're looking down on the meadow that disguises the two 50 million-gallon reservoirs under Powell Butte: Reservoir #1, on the right, was completed in 1980, while Reservoir #2 came online in 2014. You can make out some of the vents and the large hatches. From here, you'll also get good views to Silver Star Mountain and Mount Saint Helens. Make a sharp left turn and pass the junction with Summit Lane to keep on the paved track. You'll see the summit orchard on your right: these are mainly walnut trees with a few apples and pears. When you reach the circle that displays the mountain finder, look for Mount Rainier, Mount Saint Helens, Silver Star Mountain, Three Corner Rock, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, Table Rock, Olallie Butte, and the snowy top of Mount Jefferson.

Continue on the trail, which becomes unpaved. After the orchard, look immediately south across the Johnson Creek drainage to Clackamas Butte and Mount Scott; the Gresham Buttes are to the east. Come to the junction with the Wildhorse Trail and keep 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 and stay on Summit Lane. The trail rises through the grassland to the Summit Lane-Hawthorn Trail Junction and, still following Summit Lane, continue another 1/10th of a mile to the four-way Douglas-fir Trail-Summit Lane-Meadowland Lane Junction.

Keep straight here on Meadowland Lane (Meadowland and Mountain View were two former names for the Anderegg dairy, whose cows grazed these pastures until the 1980s). This trail makes a wide loop gently down the slope, passing a couple of seasonal pools on the left and right. Stay on Meadowland Lane as you pass the junctions with the Cedar Grove and Forest Edge Trails (See the Powell Butte West Loop Hike) near a deciduous wood of big-leaf maple and red alder. Eventually come to the Pipeline Lane-Meadowland Lane-Forest Edge Trail Junction, and go right on Pipeline Lane.

This gravel road will bring you, in about 1/10th of a mile, to the gated Reservoir Lane. Duck through the gate (Yes, it’s allowed) and walk the road, essentially on top of the two 50 million gallon reservoirs that receive Bull Run water. Cross a wide meadow dominated by Queen Anne’s lace, yarrow, and plantings of lupine. A loop track leads left past a couple of large reservoir hatches and some vents. Rejoin Reservoir Lane, go left, and get views north to Silver Star Mountain and Mount Saint Helens. The road descends to a stile at a gate and the Mountain View Trail-Pipeline Lane-Reservoir Lane-East Access Lane Junction. Go a few yards to the right and take the paved Mountain View Trail down towards the Visitor Center. For a slight diversion, go left at the next junction and come to another junction with a habitat sign for oak savanna (bronze pieces of artwork accompany the habitat signs). Turn right here and pass the forest habitat sign. Come to a junction with the Mountain View Trail and stay left here to return to the Visitor Center.


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

  • The majority of the guidebooks below have not been updated to include the new trails:
  • Urban Trails: Portland by Eli Boschetto
  • Take a Walk: Portland by Brian Barker
  • 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
  • Trail Running: Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Mountain Biking: Portland by Scott Rapp
  • The Dog Lover's Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson
  • Best Hikes With Dogs: Oregon by Ellen Morris Bishop
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dungeon

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.