The 1.6 million acre Deschutes National Forest is our backyard, providing endless opportunities to soak in the great outdoors. A Northwest Forest Pass may be required at the parking areas. The pass costs $5 per day or $30 per season. It can be purchased at a ranger station, an outdoor store or at the trailhead fee box. For additional hiking ideas, visit these sites: Sisters Country | Deschutes Land Trust guided hikes | AllTrails | Sisters Trails Alliance
Local Favorite Hikes
Black Butte Lookout
Hike Black Butte Ranch’s namesake in this 1,556 foot climb. Views of Central Oregon’s Cascade peaks await at the summit. This hike is moderately strenuous, winding 3.8-miles from trailhead to lookout & back. In the summer, the south-facing slope gets hot. Bring water!
Route #1: From Black Butte Ranch: drive east on Hwy 20 to Forest Road 11 (Green Ridge Road). Turn left & pass Indian Ford Campground. Turn left at gravel Road 1110 and follow it to the trailhead.
Route #2: Want more of a challenge? Start just off SW Sherman Camp Road, for the Historic Black Butte Trail # 4026. This 9.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult.
Suttle Lake Trail
Suttle Lake is a hike for the whole family. The fairly flat 3.2-mile trail winds along the forested shore, with many picnic spots.
From Black Butte Ranch: take Hwy 20 west 6.2-miles to the entrance of the Suttle Lake Campgrounds. The trail may be accessed from several points, including Cinder Beach near Suttle Lake Resort.
The Metolius River boasts stunningly blue waters & lush forests. From the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery, hike trails that are fairly flat & accessible. When you’re done, head to the Camp Sherman Store for ice cream!
From Black Butte Ranch: take Hwy 20 west 2 miles, then turn right at the Camp Sherman turnoff. Follow Road 14 to a fork & bear right. Continue 7.5 miles & turn left at the Fish Hatchery signs. Cross the bridge to the parking area.
Headwaters of the Metolius
While you’re exploring Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery, take a small detour to the headwaters of the Metolius. It’s only a 1/2 mile round trip on a paved foot path with a glimpse of the headwaters & a wonderful view of Mt. Jefferson. A great outing for anyone with limited mobility.
From Black Butte Ranch: take Hwy 20 west 2 miles, then turn right at the Camp Sherman turnoff. Follow Road 14 for three miles, then turn right & continue 1.5 miles to the Head of the Metolius parking area.
Jack Creek Trail
Though not as famous as the nearby Metolius River, Jack Creek still has natural beauty to offer. The headwaters are fed by underground springs, and can be seen emerging right from the ground. It offers wildflowers, fallen logs, and easy, flat terrain that is fun for exploration. Three trail options are all accessible from the Jack Creek Campground parking area ranging from 1/2 to 3 miles.
From Black Butte Ranch: take Hwy 20 west to Forest Road 12 (5.8 miles). Turn right on Forest Service Road 12 for 1.5 miles, then left on Forest Service Rd. 1232. Drive a mile to the trailhead.
McKenzie River Waterfalls
The McKenzie River Waterfalls Loop Trail offers a family-friendly 3-mile circuit featuring beautiful forests & views of both Sahalie & Koosah Falls. It can be accessed at several points, but the parking area for Sahalie Falls has restrooms & a viewing platform.
From Black Butte Ranch: Head west 18 miles on Hwy 20. Take a left at the Santiam “Y” to stay on Hwy 20, then turn left on Hwy 126 toward Eugene. Turn right at the sign for Sahalie Falls.
This easy loop trail of 1.25 miles is great for the kids. Proxy Falls is one of the most photographed spots in Oregon, so don’t forget the camera.
From Black Butte Ranch: head east to Sisters. At the roundabout take the first exit onto McKinney Butte Rd. Turn right on Hwy 242 (open seasonally) & head west. The trailhead is about 26.6 miles up on the right.
Whychus Creek/Upper Chush Falls
The falls on Whychus Creek are a local wonder, but the drive to get there can be an adventure of its own. Once you get to the area, there are several cascades, but Upper Chush Falls is the largest with a 225 foot descent. Take a four-wheel drive vehicle with good clearance. You’re likely to get some scratches from encroaching brush.
From Black Butte Ranch: head east on Hwy 20 to Sisters. Turn right on Elm Street toward Three Creeks Lake. Drive about seven miles and turn right (west) on Forest Road 1514. Drive five miles to Forest Road 1514-600 & follow 2 miles to a T. Bear left to the Chush Falls Trail.
Whychus Creek Lookout
Reached via a 1 mile accessible trail, the overlook offers views of the Whychus Creek Wild and Scenic River area, and the Three Sisters’ peaks
Sisters Tie Trail
This trail is a mix of old roads and single track that is great for a walk or bike ride in the woods. It runs 6.6 miles one-way with access points along its length. There is no water available on this trail, so be sure to bring your own.
From Black Butte Ranch: head east on Hwy 20 about 1.5 miles to the Indian Ford Campground. The trail crosses the road about 100 feet north of the intersection.
Three Creeks Lake Area
The area surrounding Three Creeks Lake boasts many opportunities for hiking, from the steep, 4.5-mile Tam McArthur Rim, to the three-mile mountain meadow retreat of Little Three Creeks Lake. Three Creeks Lake itself also has loops ranging from 1 to 9 miles that are great for hiking or cross-country skiing.
From Black Butte Ranch: head east on Hwy 20 to Sisters.Turn right on Elm Street, which will turn into Road 16. Follow signs to Three Creeks Lake. The pavement will end after 15 miles. Continue on the road to Three Creeks Lake. Turn right at the Driftwood Campground.
Tam McArthur Rim: across the stream from the parking area by the main road.
Little Three Creeks: begins at the end of the gravel road
Suttle Tie Trail
This trail is made up of old roads & single track that winds through pine & fir trees near Hwy 20. It is five miles one way, so consider staging vehicles if you’re not up for a ten mile endeavor. Or make a day of it by bringing along a picnic to enjoy beside Suttle Lake before heading home.
From Black Butte Ranch: take Hwy 20 west to Road 2060 (George McAllister Rd.) & turn left. Park near the intersection with Hwy 20.
For a cave that is even closer to the Ranch, check out Skylight Cave. This lava tube features “skylights,” or areas where the ceiling did not fully form, allowing light in from outside. Be sure to bring flashlights or lanterns & wear warm clothing. The cave is home to various bats—please do not disturb.
From Black Butte Ranch: exit the Ranch using the Fiddleneck gate & turn left on Forest Service Road 2060. Continue 1.3 miles to the junction of Road 2060 & Road 500, keeping right for 2060. Continue for another 1.3 miles to the junction with Road 1014 & keep straight for Road 260. Follow this rough dirt road 1.1 miles to the cave entrance on the left. It is not well-marked, so keep an eye out for the very small road marker on the left indicating Road 266.
Dee Wright Observatory
Dee Wright Observatory is an observation structure at the summit of McKenzie Pass on Hwy 242 (open seasonally). The structure is an open shelter constructed with lava stone. It is located in the midst of a large lava flow, and offers an exceptional view of numerous Cascade peaks.
On the Cascade Range at 5,187 feet, this mountain observatory offers panoramic views of the Mount Washington and Three Sisters Wilderness areas.
From Sisters, OR travel west on Hwy 242 for 15 miles to the Dee Wright Observatory.
The observatory will be visible from the highway, and parking is immediately available.
We love this new video about our backyard from our friends at Deschutes Brewery in Bend!