Gray Butte

Balsamroot Flower

  • Easy (to Viewpoint Rock)
  • 5.2 miles round trip
  • 160 feet elevation gain
  • Open all year
  • Use: hikers, horses, bicycles

  • Difficult (around Gray Butte)
  • 16.1-mile loop
  • 2050 feet elevation gain
  • Use: bicycles

The little-known path around Gray Butte serves as a secret back-door entrance to Central Oregon’s immensely popular Smith Rock State Park—avoiding the park’s crowds and parking fees. An easy hike from Gray Butte Saddle traverses sagebrush slopes with views to a string of Cascade snowpeaks. Mountain bikers can turn the trip into a challenging 16.1-mile loop. Avoid the heat of July and August.

To find the Gray Butte Saddle trailhead, turn off Highway …

The path begins in a juniper forest but soon emerges onto a hillside of sagebrush. In May and June look among the bushes for lavender cushions of phlox, blue stalks of lupine, white tubes of locoweed, and the big yellow flowers of balsamroot and Oregon sunshine. After …

Other Options

Hikers can extend the trip by …

This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Eastern Oregon.