Home  •   Field Guide  •   Forums  •    Unread Posts  •   Maps  •   Find a Hike!
| Page | Discussion | View source | History | Print Friendly and PDF

Rocky Butte

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mt. St. Helens from James Wood Hill Park, Rocky Butte (bobcat)
Airway beacon, James Wood Hill Park, Rocky Butte (bobcat)


Rocky Butte is one of almost 100 cinder cones, shield volcanoes and lava vents that make up the Boring Lava Field in the greater Portland area (There are more volcanoes in Portland than in any other city on Earth). Rocky Butte itself lay in the direct path of the Bretz or Missoula Floods, some of the largest known on the planet, which blasted down the Columbia Gorge from what is now Montana over a period of about 2,000 years until about 13,000 years ago. The floods resulted from repeated ruptures of ice dams holding meltwater from the continental ice sheet at the end of the last Ice Age. During the floods, the eastern face of the cinder cone was extensively eroded as the Portland area went under 400 feet of water. The west side of Rocky Butte, now known as the Alameda Ridge, became a collection of debris from hundreds of miles away. This ridge has a high concentration of radon gas.

The northeast side of the butte also hosted a rock quarry, which gave rise to its current name; previous to this, it was known as Wiberg Butte. Stone from the quarry was used in the construction of the former Multnomah County Jail, located nearby and demolished to make way for the freeway. At the top of the butte is Joseph Wood Hill Park, named after the man who founded the Hill Military Academy, some of whose buildings still form part of the City Bible Church complex. At the southeast corner of the butte is undeveloped state park land.

Cliff faces on the northeast side of the butte hold over 100 climbing routes, and bouldering practice can be enjoyed on the stone walls at the summit. The east side of the butte, facing I-205, often shelters a few transient camps.

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.