For those who may not be familiar, a butte is an isolated hill with steep sides and a flat top. Pilot Butte is located in the center of Bend. It can be seen from almost anywhere in downtown Bend. Visitors can drive or walk up the easy incline on a paved trail (Summit Drive Trail) that circles around the butte as you climb. There is a steeper climb (Nature Trail) that is also available for those seeking more of a challenge. Because you are circling around the mountain, the views are ever changing as you ascend and each turn of the corner is more gorgeous than the next.
Once you reach the top, you will be greeted with magnificent 360-degree views of downtown Bend, the desert and the snowcapped Cascade mountains. There are benches and a restroom at the top, as well.
The trail is about 1 mile each way and can be done in about an hour depending how fast you go. No hiking skills are required. It’s an easy walk with a gradual incline. If you take the Summit Drive Trail, do remember you are sharing the road with vehicles and bikes. The road is only open to vehicles from about mid-April to late fall when the road is not icy.
Sunrise and sunset are optimum times to visit.
There is a free parking lot at the base.