Forty five minutes outside of Bend is an extinct volcano called Black Butte. Here you can drive half way up the mountain and hike the rest of the way from the Black Butte Trail to the summit. As you get towards the top, the trail hugs the side of the butte so you have a consistent view of the mountains nearby. You'll see Broken Top, Three Sisters, Mount Washington, and Three Fingered Jack.
It’s an awesome hike for the winter because A) you can access it all year round and B) on some days the surrounding bushes and trees get all frosty. Just about everything was covered in tiny icy crystals! There were some stretches of the trail towards the top that were super icy and slippery, so wearing Yaktrax or MICROspikes would have been really helpful (although we would have missed out on trying to slide down the icy parts on our feet)! Otherwise, it’s a pretty moderate and very beautiful hike. AND it just gets better once you make it to the top!
Once you reach the summit, Mount Jefferson, Mount Hood, and–on a clear day–Mount Adams will come into view! On top of that, the old Black Butte cupola is still standing which was built in the 20’s. You can’t go inside, but it’s interesting to imagine what it was like living on the top of the mountain when it was still in commission. On the other side of the butte you can see a lookout tower. This one was built in the 90’s to replace the old tower that collapsed, which had been built in the 30’s.
We are trying not to go to the same places twice since there are still so many places we haven’t yet experienced, BUT we already can’t wait to come back here again in the springtime to see all the wildflowers popping up!