▶️ Hikers adapt to Pilot Butte road reconstruction project

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The road to the summit of Pilot Butte remains closed as construction ramps up at one of the state’s most popular parks.

Hiking options on Pilot Butte are limited due to reconstruction of the road to the summit. The trail that parallel the road to the summit is closed as well. 

Other trails on the butte remain open.

“It’s gonna be tight especially when they start grinding,” said Joe Wanamaker, Pilot Butte Park Manager. “There’s going to be large, noisy equipment and these operators aren’t going to be able to see or hear people coming up the road. There’s going to be a lot of trucks rolling when they start doing the asphalt, so it will be a real safety hazard. We just ask people to stay off the road.”

It’s a big ask of the one million people who visit the summit of Pilot Butte each year.

“We don’t care. We just use the dirt trail, go up to the top and turn around,” said Patrick Campbell of Bend.

“I’m glad they are making the improvements. It’ll be nice when it’s done,” said Karen Malanga, Bend.

Until work is complete, the hundreds of people who hike up the butte every day are forced to use other trails in the park. 

“Normally we walk the road because I don’t have as good as balance as I used to, but we managed today just fine going up the trail. They keep it quite groomed,” said Diana of Bend.

“It’s just good exercise. Either route has always been good,” said Roger, also from Bend.

“We know we have a lot of regular users who come up here every day. We know it’s a hardship having the road and trail closed but we do ask their cooperation. I appreciate so far that most people have been observing the closure,” Wanamaker said. 

Trail counters confirm Pilot Butte is one of the busiest state parks in Oregon, a benefit many in Central Oregon feel everyday.

“This butte has probably saved a lot of lives. People are using it so frequently they are staying in shape, and it becomes kind of a social thing,” said Larry Conley, Bend. “Everybody gives everybody a wave. It’s a little social community here. They call it the ‘Pilot Butte Bunch.'”  

The $500,000 project to repave the summit road is scheduled for completion by Memorial Day weekend.

Hikers can still walk up the 0.8-mile nature trail but only to where it meets the summit.

The summit itself, including the snow cap identifier, is closed throughout construction.

The base trail makes a full 1.6-mile loop, passing through a section of the butte that burned in a fire ignited by fireworks.

 

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