Deep in the heart of the Umatilla National Forest down an 18 mile gravel road is the trailhead for West and Oregon Butte trail. If you’re looking for trail reviews on AllTrails or WTA, you’ll be hard pressed to find them, but that’s not because the trail is untraveled. This spectacular trail has much to offer when it comes to Eastern Washington Scenery. Skeptical myself as to whether I would enjoy the trail, my options were quickly transformed the moment I got to the trailhead… the views were already captivating.
In this post about the 100 Classic Hike of Washington, West and Oregon Butte, I will go over general information about the trail, how to access the trail including the best season, what it’s like to hike to both buttes, and as always if it should be included as a 100 Classic Hike of Washington!
Hiked on June 10th, 2023
Table of Contents
Map to Trailhead
West and Oregon Butte Trail is located on the ancestral lands of the Cayuse, Umatilla, Walla Walla. Palus Tribes and Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. We are grateful for the stewards of this land past and present. We are honored to be recognize that we are guests on this land.
Region: Eastern Washington
Distance: 5.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,500 ft
Time: 3 hours
When to go: May – Oct
Pass/Permit: National Forest Pass
Dogs Allowed? Yes
How to Access West and Oregon Butte
If you’re up for a bit of a drive and beautiful views, this trail will not leave you disappointed.
Since the trail is located in a National Forest, there is a fee that is required to access the trail. You can either purchase a National Forest Pass which provides you access to all national forests in the United States. If you’re someone who frequently finds themselves in National Parks as well, you could use or purchase an America the Beautiful pass which provides access to all National Parks and Forests for a year.
Just outside of Dayton, Washington, down S Fourth St. road, is the turn off that you’ll take to get to the trailhead. You’ll wind along this same gravel road for 18 miles until you reach the trail at the end of the road.
During the winter months, you can make it about 5 miles up the road before it’s closed for the season. You’ll pass private properties until you eventually reach the Umatilla National Forest Sign, From there you just keep going straight. You’ll pass a number of campgrounds run by the forest service as well as dispersed camping sites. Heads up, the map on AllTrails has the road to the trailhead ending about 3 miles short of where the trailhead actually is.
The trailhead has a pit toilet, picnic bench, plenty of parking for a remote trail, and a place for horse packers.
Hiking West and Oregon Butte
Hiking the West and Oregon Butte Trail in the Umatilla National Forest is an invigorating adventure that rewards hikers with breathtaking views and a sense of tranquility. This moderate trail spans approximately 6 miles round-trip and takes you through diverse landscapes..
The trail begins in a forested area, surrounded by tall conifers and a rich understory of ferns and wildflowers. As you ascend, the scent of pine fills the air, and the sounds of chirping birds accompany your footsteps. The path gradually gains elevation, but the well-maintained trail ensures a comfortable hiking experience.
After a steady climb, the forest opens up, revealing glimpses of the surrounding valleys and mountains. As you emerge from the trees, a vast grassland unfolds before you, adorned with vibrant wildflowers swaying in the breeze. The sight is truly awe-inspiring, and you’ll find yourself compelled to pause and take in the expansive beauty of the landscape. You’ll also need to pause to determine if you’re going to go left or right on the split trail. Going right takes you to West Butte.
The route to West Butte continues to gain elevation. Small patches of snow dotted the trail while wildflowers covered the grassy areas. The butte is slightly off trail and provides a view of Oregon Butte off in the distance.
Continuing along the trail, you’ll encounter occasional rocky outcrops and small patches of shade provided by scattered trees. Take the switchbacks down into the forested area. You’ll need to gain that elevation back and then some to get to Oregon Butte. There was a trough with water flowing into it from a nearby stream. Meatball loved it.
As you approach the summit, the views become more commanding and you’ll feel a sense of anticipation building. You’ll begin walking along a ridgeline with sweeping views on either side of you.
Finally, you reach the pinnacle of Oregon Butte. Standing at an elevation of 6,387 feet (1,947 meters), you are greeted with panoramic views. The blue mountains stretch out before you, their rolling ridges covered in a tapestry of greens and blues. The Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness unfurls in the distance, a rugged and pristine landscape.
Check Out Another Eastern Washington Hike: Mount Spokane
It’s an ideal spot to enjoy a picnic, capture stunning photographs, or simply bask in the tranquility of the moment. Many people will backpack to Oregon Butte for an overnight trip. There is a pit toilet and small camps. This would make a great backpacking trip for anyone!
The return journey allows you to appreciate the scenery from a different perspective, and you may encounter new glimpses of wildlife or spot hidden gems along the way. Going right on the diverged path provides new views on the other side of West Butte. There were many fallen trees that required climbing over and walking around.
Hiking the Oregon Butte Trail in the Umatilla National Forest offers a balance of challenge and reward, immersing you in the beauty of nature and providing a memorable experience that will leave you with a profound appreciation for the wonders of the Pacific Northwest and eastern washington.
Consider dispersed camping on the way out. There are so many beautiful campsites on the way out of the area, it’s a perfect opportunity to continue to immerse yourself in the gorgeous Umaltilla National Forest.
Should West and Oregon Butte be a 100 Classic Hike?
For a trail that was recently impacted by a forest fire, I was inspired by the progress this forest has made towards recovery. With wildflowers blooming, bird chirping, and small mammals scurrying across the forest floor, I found the trail to be a true wonder. Contrasted with the charcoal black tree trunks, the underbrush was a vibrant green. It was magnificent.
The hike to West Butte and Oregon Butte was nothing short of perfection. I could compare it to the perfect blending of west coast and east coast hiking and foliage.
No one would leave this trail disappointed. Especially after the underbrush has time to grow from winter.
Yes, this trail should be a 100 Classic Hike of Washington.