Overshadowed by its nearby neighbors, the Three Sisters, Black Crater is an often overlooked peak. It shouldn’t be! It offers some of the best views of the Central Cascades, and the trailhead is quickly accessed from Bend and surrounding communities. No nasty dirt roads are required and you can hike this peak in a quick morning outing.

The Black Crater trail closed in the summer of 2017 due to the Milli Fire, and reopened prior to Labor Day weekend in 2018. The first stretch of the trail climbs through a virtual moonscape, the forest devastated from the fire. Burned bark peels away from the trees, exposing the red wood underneath. Small green ferns pop out of the ground, adding a bit of color to the monotone landscape. The views are no longer obstructed by thick forest growth, so you can see Mt Washington, Mt Jefferson, and more to the north as you climb the northern slopes of Black Crater.

The final climb to the Black Crater summit passes through forest untouched by the fire. From the top, you have a 360 degree view of the Central Cascades, as well as the damage from the recent fires.

Topo map and GPX track:


In and out hike on a well defined trail.


Seven miles round trip

Elevation Gain:

+/- 2450 ft

Trailhead and Permit Notes:

The trailhead for Black Crater is large and can accommodate many cars. Santiam Pass Road (highway 242) to the trailhead is narrow and twisty but paved, accommodating all cars but not all trailers. Note that this road is seasonally closed – please check before heading out. There are no amenities at the trailhead, and therefore no pass is required as of this writing. Fill out a self-issue wilderness permit at the trailhead.

Useful Guides and Gear:

Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd

Mountain sports addict. Dog Mom. Craft beer drinker. Tech nerd. The best days are those spent above 10k ft. Meet me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google +


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