Vista Butte Trail

Deschutes National Forest, Oregon

Elevation Gain318ft
Trailhead Elevation6,358ft
Elevation Min/Max6357/6618ft
Elevation Start/End6358/6358ft
Vista Butte Trail is a hiking trail in Deschutes County, Oregon. It is within Deschutes National Forest. It is 0.5 miles long and begins at 6,358 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 1.1 miles with a total elevation gain of 318 feet. The trail ends near Vista Butte (elevation 6,617 feet). There are also a bench and a viewpoint near the end of the trail. This trail connects with the following: Swampy-Dutchman Trail.

Vista Butte Trail Professional Review and Guide

"It’s not called Vista Butte for nothing: the views from atop this humble backwoods knob are indeed stunning. This route showcases the local mountains, and the sparse lodgepole pine forest makes for easy walking, even in the woods. From atop Vista Butte you can easily blow several frames of film; the panorama of central Oregon backcountry spreads out nicely before you.

The location and elevation of this little knob are just enough to allow for miraculous views in all directions. You can look down on the Swampy Lakes area and its trails to the south; Bachelor Butte and the Bachelor ski area to the north; and Broken Top and the Three Sisters mountains to the east."

Vista Butte Trail Reviews

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This trail is great for both shoeing and x-c skiing and would be perfect for both if you have the gear for it. Try skiing until you get to the steeper switchbacks then throw your skis on your back and switch to shoes. Either way, just keep following the blue diamonds to find your way. It takes a little longer than you'd think to make it to the switchbacks.
I'm a relative newbie to Bend area, arriving last Dec. I never snowshoed till last winter, but managed to climb Tumalo a few times last and this year, and also several treks around Meisner, Edison, Swampy and Tumalo Falls. That said (I'm no expert), but I'd put Vista Butte in line with Tumalo Mtn with respect to best views at the top (one place I have not yet hit is Black Butte - could be the ace in the hole?). It's easier getting up VB than TM, esp if you follow the xc ski paths, but still not totally a trivial 2 mile one-way trek up (via xc trail, potentially a lot shorter if you go direct up/down). But at the end of the day, the views:effort ratio are the best I've found in the area. Edison is unique with the lava and Pondorosa pines, but not much in the way of mountain views. Swampy Ponderosa trail isn't bad, esp at the top of the one decent ascent on the NE path, but the views at the Swampy shelter are nothing to write home about (Nordeen, before burning this winter was better). All in all, Vista Butte, imo, is one of the better showshoe paths in the Bend area.
Apparently I was up there the same day as Randy (see his recommendation). When we got there the snowshowers hampered the view, but it was still a nice trek - good elevation in the short distance. Once at the top, you can see the direction back, and its fun to head off trail, through the lodge pole pines. Took us about 2.5 hours, with a 15-20 minute break on top for snack / drink. I'd do this one again, hiking or snowshoe!
This was my first ever snowshoeing hike, and really my first hike of any distance over a mile or so. So i really have very little basis for comparison concerning the quality, difficulty, etc of this hike. That said, i'm sure it is considered a very easy trip. I didn't really pay attention to how long it took us but we didn't start up until sometime around maybe 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon. Our plan was to be at the top to watch the sunset and the stars come out. Sunset was supposed to be around 5:30 that day and i stopped about 50 feet short of the top to watch it. At the top of the butte the trail spirals it's way around and up. I assumed that it did so and saw tracks heading straight up toward the top instead, so i followed those for the last 100 vertical feet or so. The view is quite amazing from the top and is basically 360 degrees. You can see out over the desert to the east and mountains in every other direction. It was calm and clear and we hung around on top for at least an hour watching the sky get darker and the stars begin to shine. There was a full moon and we hiked down in the dark, only having to use our head lights about half of the time because the moonlight was so bright. By the end of it i was beginning to get a bit sore, but i'm sure experienced snowshoers/hikers could do the whole thing in a few hours and with very little difficulty. For beginners, it's a nice, short hike with a great payoff.

Vista Butte Trail Photos

Trail Information

Deschutes National Forest
Nearby City
Deschutes National Forest

Activity Feed

Jun 2018