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Difference between revisions of "Gresham Butte-Butler Creek Hike"

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

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* [http://library.oregonmetro.gov/files/butlercreekgreenway.pdf  Butler Creek Greenway Trail (Metro)]
* [http://library.oregonmetro.gov/files/butlercreekgreenway.pdf  Butler Creek Greenway Trail (Metro)]
* [https://www.oregonmetro.gov/public-projects/gabbert-butte-master-plan  Gabbert Butte Master Plan (Metro)]
* [https://www.oregonmetro.gov/public-projects/gabbert-butte-master-plan  Gabbert Butte Master Plan (Metro)]
* [https://greshamoregon.gov/Gabbert-Butte-Nature-Park-Master-Plan/  Gabbert Butte Nature Park Master Plan (City of Gresham)]
* [https://greshamoregon.gov/Gabbert-Butte-Map/  Map of Gabbert Butte (City of Gresham)]
* [http://www.theintertwine.org/explore/butler-creek-greenway-trail-0  Butler Creek Greenway Trail (The Intertwine)]
* [http://www.theintertwine.org/explore/butler-creek-greenway-trail-0  Butler Creek Greenway Trail (The Intertwine)]
* [http://rubble.blogspot.com/2012/01/trail-report-gresham-butte-saddle-trail.html  Trail Report (Preliminary): Gresham Butte Saddle Trail, The Lost Truck, & The Boring Lava Fields (Rubble)]
* [http://rubble.blogspot.com/2012/01/trail-report-gresham-butte-saddle-trail.html  Trail Report (Preliminary): Gresham Butte Saddle Trail, The Lost Truck, & The Boring Lava Fields (Rubble)]

Revision as of 21:53, 2 December 2017

Holly arbor, Gresham Butte Saddle (bobcat)
Heading up Gabbert Hill (bobcat)
Abandoned bus, Gabbert Hill (bobcat)
Johnson Creek on the Butler Creek Greenway (bobcat)
Binford Lake, Butler Creek Greenway (bobcat)
The hike described traced in red (not a GPS track) (bobcat)Courtesy: National Geographic Topo


Hike Description

This hike explores the slopes of two more of the Portland area's Boring volcanoes. This lava field was active for 2 1/2 million years and became extinct about 300,000 years ago. The Gresham Butte Saddle Trail rises on an old logging road to a saddle between Gabbert Butte, to the south, and Walters Hill (also called Gresham Butte) to the north. The top of Walters Hill/Gresham Butte is in a subdivision, but you can get sweeping views over Gresham from here. The old road bed to the top of Gabbert Hill, once slated for development but acquired as open space by Metro and the City of Gresham in 2007, rewards with the discovery of the Gabbert Butte Truck, apparently a relic of the much-maligned 1970s Mount Hood Freeway project. You can continue down the south slope of Gabbert Butte in Metro's Gabbert Butte Natural Area (Note that no dogs are permitted on Metro-managed property). From here, via city streets, you can make a loop using the Butler Creek Greenway and the Springwater Corridor and then return to the Gresham Butte East Trailhead via the Saddle Trail. Another possible full loop involves heading east around the Springwater to reconnect with your car off of Regner Road.

The Gresham Butte Saddle Trail leads up graveled but overgrown S.E. 19th Drive under cottonwoods and alders. A creek runs down to the right. Douglas-firs, cedars, holly, hazel and big-leaf maples make up the woodland vegetation. Near the beginning of the trail, look right across a creek to see a couple examples of the shapely Hogan cedars (An interpretive sign at the Gresham Butte Saddle explains these unique trees). At a junction keep left; the trail rises through an understory of Himalayan blackberry, sword fern, vine maple and snowberry. Cross a creek bed and wend up, and then dip down to recross the creek. At the Gresham Butte Saddle, come to a four-way crossroads with a bench. One sign here describes the "Hogan Cedars", a unique and particularly shapely variety of the western red-cedar that grows only in this area, especially down along Johnson Creek. The other interpretive sign tells of the trail options in the area.

Go left on a steep road bed up Gabbert Butte. Alders and big-leaf maples, with some Douglas-fir dominate here among sword fern, Oregon grape, salmonberry and thimbleberry. Keep up the main track ignoring user trails to the left which cross private property. Roadside posts have “Gresham PRO “ stenciled on them. Still keeping steeply up, reach a fork and go left. You'll see a water tower through the trees, and soon you'll arrive at the much graffitied Gabbert Butte Truck. Apparently, this vehicle brought in supplies for a survey of the proposed Mount Hood Freeway in the 1970s. The road, which generally followed the trajectory of Powell Boulevard, was supposed to go right through Hogan cedar territory. Activists protested destruction of the trees, and an alternative route was planned through a neighborhood. Residents rose up in arms over that proposal, and the outcry of various activist groups eventually led to the cancellation of the project. If have have a dog with you, you'll need to turn back here as pets are not permitted in the Gabbert Butte Natural Area.

Past the truck, you'll see one of the user trails coming in from the left and also a blue water pipeline post. Continue around to the fence surrounding the water tower, and keep right. At the fence corner, go left at a sign for Metro's Gabbert Butte Natural Area (No dogs allowed). Make a left here and, fifty yards down the road, come to the Gabbert Butte Loop East Junction. For a longer walk in the natural area, keep left here, and walk down the water facility's gravel service road. Wind downhill in an understory of snowberry, sword fern, and blackcap raspberry, getting views of more Boring volcanoes - Sunshine Butte to the south and Hogan Butte to the east. Reach the gate at the Gabbert Butte Trailhead, and make a right. The path here leads down along backyard fences before bearing right into a plantation of young Douglas-fir, western hemlock, and western red-cedar. Traverse this leafy hillside, which supports a more natural woodland not overwhelmed by invasive plants. Maple and alder dominate at first, with large sword ferns dropping trailside. Then you'll pass down between large Douglas-firs. Continue the traverse as you cross a maple/alder slope, and reach the Gabbert Butte Loop West Junction.

Go left here, and drop down an old road track under cottonwoods, maples, and Douglas-firs. You'll reach the dead end on S.W. 33rd Street. In a few yards, go right on Wallula Ave, and then curve to the left onto 31st Street. Descend to Towle Avenue, and cross it to reach S.W. Willow Parkway. Take the sidewalk on the right side of Willow. You'll drop into a creek drainage and, at a Speed 25 sign, see a mossy, lumpy paved trail leading into blackberries. Ignore this trail, as it is often overgrown. Continue along Willow up and then down into the Butler Creek drainage. At another Speed 25 sign, take the trail leading right to follow Butler Creek down the slope.

Back at the saddle, go west and head down through a holly plantation. Here the road is attractively rimmed with mossy rock walls. Recross the water pipeline and then cross a gully; then head up to a gate. Here, at the Gresham Butte West Trailhead, 19th Drive becomes a real street again: go right and head downhill past some homes. Meet S.W. Towle Avenue and bear right to head downhill on the sidewalk on the west side of Towle about 0.6 miles to the bridge over Johnson Creek. After crossing the creek, bear left on the paved Springwater Corridor Trail. Johnson Creek runs in a bottomland to the left. Power lines also run along the Corridor. Pass an information sign about wildlife in the area. Cottonwoods, alders, western spiraea, willows, and hazel dominate this bottomland. There are many plantings protected by mouse-netting. Walk about 3/4 mile on the Springwater Corridor, passing a covered bench. Then, across from another bench in a grove of cottonwoods, the wide graveled Butler Creek Greenway Trail leads off to the left.

Walk down this trail and, at a junction, go left into an alder bottomland with some cedar. Come to a log bench under Douglas-firs at a bend in Johnson Creek. The trail veers right to cross the creek on a high 135-foot pedestrian bridge and crosses S.W. 14th Drive. Walk up with homes to the left and Butler Creek to the right. There are lots of plantings protected by mouse-netting in an area where the blackberries have been pulled: elderberry, vine maple, cascara, snowberry, and red osier dogwood. Pass under a large Douglas-fir and switchback to S.W. Binford Lake Parkway. Pass a bench and a picnic table with small Binford Lake to the left. Look for mallards and wigeons scooting on the pond. The trail bears left along a boardwalk to cross Butler Creek in a willow grove and then heads up the east bank of the creek. Enter a cedar grove and come to a junction. Here, go right (Going left takes you across the lawns of Butler Creek Park) and cross the creek on a footbridge. Recross the creek and come up into the playground area of the park. There are two ponds on the far side of the park. Keeping right, head up a paved trail which becomes gravel as it rises up the last little bit of creek bed to recross the creek before you get to S.W. Willow Parkway.

Go left, winding around with Willow Parkway to its junction with Towle. Then, go left on Towle, which has no sidewalk in these parts, passing Binford Lake Parkway and getting a sidewalk to the junction with S.W. 19th Drive. Here, head up through the Verde Vista neighborhood to the Gresham Butte Saddle Trail.

The road bed going north becomes paved and leads up Walters Hill (Gresham Butte) to intersect with Blaine Avenue. You can get views over the City of Gresham from here.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • No dogs permitted in the Gabbert Butte Natural Area


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Wild in the City: Exploring the Intertwine by Michael C. Houck & M.J. Cody
  • Walk There! 50 Treks In and Around Portland and Vancouver edited by Laura O. Foster
  • Portland Hill Walks by Laura O. Foster (partial)

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.