Bessie Butte located southeast of Bend Oregon is an interesting cinder cone that is linked to the Newbury Caldera just south. The cinder cone itself stand 500 feet above the the base floor and can be easily recognized by many of the nearby mountains in the region. Due to a forest fire back in both 2003 and 2007 this summit area is now completely bald and now only bushes are growing on the cinder cone. You can still see many of the old burnt up areas when you head next to Bessie Butte. Therefore the landscape of this cinder come is not the most desirable.
Isolated tree on the trail
The Bessie Butte Slope
However there is a good trail that head all of the way to the summit of Bessie Butte. This 1.5 mile round-trip and 500 foot elevation gain walk-up is ideal for those either going to see a great sunrise or sunset, or for beginners looking for something much more secluded then nearby urban cinder cone Pilot Butte. The peak does not receive a lot of traffic so the trail is hard to follow in some places. I ended up picking this summit as a bail out due to many of the other mountains in the region being hit hard by rain and thunderstorms. Therefore I believe this peak may fit the bill as a bailout peak in case of bad weather. You though would not want to choose this thunderstorm to hike up while a severe thunderstorm is going on or during the summer midday heat of the Oregon high desert.
Thunderstorms on Newbury Caldera
Rainbow on the eastern mountains
The views from this summit are actually very good of the surrounding area. You can see downtown Bend to the north, the Cascades to the east and Newbury Caldera to the south. To the east is the vast expanse of the Oregon High Desert. This peak is ideal for either sunrises or sunset because it is an easy summit to get up and get down to avoid darkness.
Storms developing over the Cascade Mountains
Bessie Butte from Lava Butte
From Bend you want to go south on Highway 97. Take the exit Knott Road and head east. Stay on Knott Road for 1.5 miles until you run into China Hat Road. Make a right onto China Hat Road for and go for about 4.5 miles. Make a right onto Forest Road 1810 which will be a gravel road. Parking for the Bessie Butte Trail will be on your left and the actual trail will be on your right.
Map of Route
This is a basic 1.5 mile, 500 elevation gain hike that wraps around the north part of the cinder cone. You will be walking on pumice sand but this should not be much of a problem. Presently I am not in the best of shape and I made it to the summit in 20 minutes.
Essential hiking footwear!!
There is no red tape on this trail.
When to Climb
This peak is ideal for year round hiking. No need for an extra gear unless you hiking this peak after a heavy snow. Then snowshoes may be needed.
I saw no signs banning camping on the summit of Bessie Butte and I saw a number of places up there in which to camp. It looked desirable though there is no need for camping on this 1.5 mile round-trip hike. Keep in mind this hike is close to the city of Bend. Therefore you may run into others on the summit; some of which may not be on the summit for the same reason that you are.