Black Butte Trail/ Deschutes National Forest 6/24/12

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forestkeeper
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Black Butte Trail/ Deschutes National Forest 6/24/12

Post by forestkeeper » June 26th, 2012, 8:10 am

Hey Everyone,

Hit the Black Butte Tr. Sunday. The weather over here was pretty moist, to say the least, and the weather forecast for Central Oregon was for partly sunny skies and temps near 70. So I headed SE in search of drier and warmer weather. I found out though, that the weather people for KOIN 6, having the same problem with making an accurate forecast in the PDX area, have trouble elsewhere too. ;) But in a way, we should be thankful of all the rain and cool temps. Being July 4th is just next week, we should have a pretty low forest fire/ wildfire couple of weeks because of the illegal firework usage.

Black Butte, as most of us have seen it if we drive on Hwy 20 towards Sister's/Bend, is an extinct cinder cone with a height of 6,436' in elevation. Since I was a child, I always imagined hiking to the top with Gentle Ben at my side. Then a few weeks ago while surfing the internet for popular Central Oregon caves, I learned that there is a trail that goes to the top and has an active tower and living quarters cabin for use for forest fire watch.

To avoid the common, hectic Sunday traffic of I-5 and the long Santiam Hwy 22, I drove Hwy 224 from Estacada to Detroit. Hwy 224 becomes Forest Road 46 at Ripplebrook. From Estacada, it is just 70 miles to Detroit with excellent views and less traffic. Leaving Estacada around 8:45 am, I saw a total of three vehicles, two deer, a few squirrels and a myriad of birds all the way to Detroit. Then once you leave Detroit, it is just another 60 or so (or so :roll: ) miles to the TH. The last five miles to the TH is a bit rough. Graveled but rough! And the last 1 mile has these weird sky rise speed bumps (not really actual speed bumps) that you have to drive slow over. If you're in a lowrider, you'll definitely scrape you're muffler off and most likely high center and teeter totter, but if you drive slow enough, you'll be ok. Then again, if you drive a lifted truck like the one in Pet Detective 2, you'll have some fun.
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The trail to the top has a nice tread, the required FS four feet wide in the tree line then narrows as you progress upward, out of the trees. Rather steep, IMHO, with excellent views of Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, and Hayrick Butte. Also you will see a nice variety of plant and bird life.
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The trail is 1.9 miles long, one way and has a good 8 to 10% uphill grade that packs a 1,550' EG. It takes about 90 minutes to get to the top.
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Going through a patch of snowberry.
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Never seen Suttle Lake from above before. Always drove by it though. Jefferson in the forefront. In this photo, you can see that wall of rain approaching. It never hit the butte, but seeing that rain wall coming gave me an unsettling feeling. So trying to hurry up the steep trail (to avoid getting soaked) was futile for me, in that I had to rest every 75 yards or so to let my body catch up to my heart.
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Approaching the top, caught sight of the lookout tower that was built in 1995.
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The old Cupola Tower, built in 1923, was used as a lookout and living quarters. Can you imagine waking up every morning with views like this?
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This would be the perfect place for a guy my size. I can't imagine staying in this with a full forest crew though. :lol: Whew! The stinky, sweaty feet smell.
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This cabin was erected in 1980 and is still in use today. Notice the solar panel that appears to been just installed. Most of the material for the tower and the cabin was air lifted up there by helicopter. Now the Cupola tower that was built in the twenties has a different story. Being that helicopters were not in existence yet, most building material was brought up by mule trains and by hand. If you think a 30 lb pack is heavy, try putting a 100 lb, 10 foot long beam on your back and hike up a trail like this.
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While taking some shots of the cabin, this Least Chipmunk paid me a visit, hoping a had some tasty snackies for him. I felt kind of sad that I just had a handful of beef jerky. He sure has pretty markings. I love how the chipmunks and squirrels come right up to you in Central Oregon while the only time you see them in the Portland area is when they run out in front of your speeding car, then as your car plummets into a tree or ditch, you look in your rear view mirror to see theem rolling on their backs, laughing. :twisted:
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The views on top are endless and spectacular. This is my first intense out and back.
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Caught this awesome shot of Jefferson on the trek back down.

Very awesome hike. Just a couple of hours SE of Portland. Strenuous and a nice mountaineering conditioner. :D

Forest Keeper

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jessbee
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Re: Black Butte Trail/ Deschutes National Forest 6/24/12

Post by jessbee » June 26th, 2012, 10:51 am

Nice. Black Butte is a good one.

To kick it up a notch, try it in the early winter as a snowshoe. It's even more gorgeous when all of central Oregon is snow covered.
Will break trail for beer.

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forestkeeper
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Re: Black Butte Trail/ Deschutes National Forest 6/24/12

Post by forestkeeper » June 26th, 2012, 12:32 pm

That sounds like fun! How long does it take to get to the top with snow shoes? I'm kind of thinking about parking closer to the bottom and then hiking up for a higher EG and cardio/sweat maker. Do you know of any trail(s) on the bottom that will intersect with the TH?

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Crusak
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Re: Black Butte Trail/ Deschutes National Forest 6/24/12

Post by Crusak » June 26th, 2012, 6:05 pm

Forestkeeper, nice report! Looks like a very fun hike, with some nice views and interesting things to check out. And moderately challenging too, with that E.G. over less than two miles.

I like jessbee's idea too! A snowshoe up there would be fantastic, but also a good workout.
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