Black Crater via Bike, Hike and Snow Climb

Peak Summited2019 Black Crater
Type of HikeDay hike
TrailheadBlack Crater Trailhead
Hiking CompanionsHiked with a group
Road ConditionsRoad suitable for all vehicles
Bug StatusNo bugs
Snow ConditionsSnowfields to cross - could be difficult
Trail ConditionsMinor obstacles posing few problems

Black Butte has epic 360-degree views of the Cascades, and I wanted to tackle this one early. The Old McKenzie Highway was still closed to vehicles about 9 I miles from the pass, but ODOT allows bicycles on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. My friend Ben and I drove to the gate and parked, then road bikes part of the way up the highway (until my derailleur had other ideas). We ended up road walking over a mile to the trailhead to begin the actual hike.

The trail itself is in pretty good condition, although there were 3-4 downed trees we had to hop over. At about 1,000 vertical feet from the summit, the trail disappears into the snow and it became necessary to pick our own route to the summit. We had trekking poles and I had microspikes, which were both highly useful. The snow is compacted enough that there was no post-holing, and soft enough that we were able to stomp in steps in the steeper sections.

Once we reached the cinder trail near the summit, the snow cleared. We could see Broken Top, the Three Sisters, Mount Washington, Three-Fingered Jack, Mount Jefferson and Mount Hood quite clearly.

On the way down, check your GPS track. It's easy to start heading downhill and end up on the wrong side of a ridge.


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