Powell Butte

Mt. Hood from the visitor center


3.8-mile loop

430 feet elevation gain

Open all year

Use: hikers, horses, bicycles

Perfect for a spring picnic or a quick winter walk, this convenient loop explores Powell Butte’s broad summit meadow—with views across East Portland to three snowpeaks—and then winds through a quiet woodland glen. The route described here is for hikers only, but maps at the trailhead describe alternate, similar tours for mountain bikers and equestrians.

Powell Butte is a volcanic cone less than 10 million years old. The butte earned its name when three pioneers by the name of J. Powell, all of them unrelated, took up homesteads near its base in 1852-53. The orchard of walnut, apple, and pear trees on the butte’s top was planted in the late 1800s. Today the delightfully wild 608-acre Powell Butte Nature Park coexists peacefully with a 50-million-gallon reservoir buried beneath the summit meadow. The unseen tank is the hub of Portland’s water supply, receiving 152,000 gallons a minute from the Bull Run Watershed. Construction on a second giant reservoir began in 2009, and will cause occasional trail closures or detours until 2014.

To reach the park, take exit 19 …

Other Options

For a bike trip nearby …

Mountain biker on Powell Butte