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Gray Butte Trail

Trail Snapshot:

8.7 miles
2002' ↑

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Trail Description

 E-bikes NOT allowed on Gray Butte

Unlike most of the trails in Central Oregon, the soil at Grey Butte is not really sandy — it’s more like powdered clay. Although it can be dry and dusty all summer long, when moisture hits it’s transformed into sticky goo what will gum up your tires and send you dragging your bike back to the car. Pro tip: as soon as you hit mud on Grey Butte, turn around — it never “gets better.”

Catch this trail on a good day and you’ll be rewarded with amazing views, challenging climbs, ripping downhills, and bench cut exposure.

Commonly accessed by Burma Road from Smith Rock State Park, you can also reach Grey Butte via the Skull Hollow Camp Ground trailhead.

Riders on horseback are pretty common on Grey Butte and the surrounding trails, so be careful. Many sections are too narrow for both a horse and a bike to pass, so dismount and step off the trail to allow safe passage.

This trail is maintained by Central Oregon Trail Alliance.

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    Horse Creek Lodge McKenzie

    Recent Reports

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    1. DeWayne Weaver says:

      Cow Canyon is all restored and riding great as of late Sept

    2. Bruce Bradshaw says:

      Trail above Cow Canyon seemed pretty normal. Maybe a bit looser than years past.

    3. Matthew Simeti says:

      Trail is dry around the North side of Grey Butte. Trail is pretty tore up with ruts, double track, and very bumpy. I drove out to the trailhead on April 8th to check conditions and an event was being held with the trails looking very muddy after a recent snowfall. Bummer to see events being held when the trails are wet and muddy. I think much of the damage happened around this time having been on the trail periodically through the winter when it was dry.

    4. Steven Powers says:

      Grey butte muddy for a mile on the north side of orchard. 99% dry from orchard to cow canyon. The trail is dry ruts of foot prints from the winter hikers in the mud, really tore up and getting wide. Bummer…. Cow canyon was a blast, dry, and fast.

    5. tom perkins says:

      The Gray Butte Loop was mostly great last weekend. 90% was dry and firm. The last couple of miles around the Gray Butte trailhead had a lot of deep mud.

    6. Brian Thomas Coop says:

      Riding great from the north TH to the saddle (where it splits off to the traverse to Smith Rock, or down Cow Canyon to Skull Hollow), BUT that’s dependent on starting early when it’s still frozen. The traverse to Smith is snow covered but rideable.

    7. Dan Nelson says:

      Riding great with no mud. Get out there before the horses beat it up next week.

    8. Alex McClaran says:

      Grey Butte trail and access to the big climb is a literal glacier, especially the road. Skull hollow access is not walkable, drivable, or rideable. Only true spring can change this. Having said that, all of the front side trails are good to go and riding with sidewalk like traction. Have fun!

    9. Natalie Herse says:

      A little mucky in the canyon on the way down to Skull Hollow, otherwise perfection.

    10. Ochoco National Forest says:

      Mud Season! The road up to Gray Butte TH is muddy, slick and potentially dangerous – please avoid. Higher elevations are worse than lower elevations currently.

      P.S.A. – If mud is sticking to your shoe or bike tire, you should turn around. We know, fun killer. Please understand that huge numbers of volunteer hours, money, love and passion have gone into your trails, and riding through significant mud causes damage. Don’t worry, tacky spring riding is just around the corner!

    11. Mike Schmeiske says:

      Cattle are in the Skull Hollow/Cow Canyon pasture but have not affected the trail yet, except the few cow pies near the bottom. Dry in the drainage, rest of trail is riding well.

    12. David Caplan says:

      Excellent conditions with a few spots where water is running down the trail and a few small muddy spots

    13. Zach Blickman says:

      Still lots of snow and mud heading out from the orchard — a few more days at least.

    14. Matthew Simeti says:

      I started at Skull Hollow and rode the road up to the Gary Butte trail head on the North side by the apple orchid. It was pretty muddy from the trail head to just past the view point. The rest of the trail over to the top of the Burma Road was riding well. Quite a few bike tracks out there today. I would recommend either riding early when it is still frozen or staying off that section of trail for a bit. Cow canyon was also muddy and a bit of a mess.

    15. Brian Thomas Coop says:

      It’s just a little muddy/icy on the north side of Grey and the road, but totally rideable – no sticky gumbo.

    16. Zach Blickman says:

      Icy stretches heading up from the orchard with a little melt and mud, same for cow canyon, otherwise, everything else is dry.

    17. Zach Blickman says:

      Lots of cows and fresh patties on the trail in cow canyon, but I like to look at them as bunny hopportunities.

    18. Suzanne Marcoe says:

      Riding great right now, a bit of moisture left in the dirt, but not for long I’m sure!

    19. Kyle Hughes says:

      Rode Grey Butte for the first time today, dirt was prime! Would recommend that anyone going up for their first time go around counter-clockwise, it is much more fun!

    20. Ochoco National Forest says:

      The Crooked River National Grassland and surrounding areas received several inches of snow this past week, and the forecast looks like more of the same. While snow doesn’t tend to stick around too long on the Grassland, mud season does.

      P.S.A. – If mud is sticking to your shoe or bike tire, you should turn around. We know, fun killer. Please understand that huge numbers of volunteer hours, money, love and passion have gone into your trails, and riding through significant mud causes damage. Don’t worry, tacky spring riding is just around the corner!

    21. Zach Blickman says:

      A little rutted heading up from the orchard, but dry throughout

    22. Don Leet says:

      One day makes a difference. Today the 29th the mud was virtually gone. There were a few thick spots and I could see it were it had been muddy but it was good today. Of course a little rain could change all that.

      1. Brennan Morrow says:

        Wow thats amazing Don, I am curious did you hit grey butte at the grey butte trail head, or a different location?

    23. Brennan Morrow says:

      Gumbo gumbo gumbo

    24. Josh CURRY says:

      Really good from Burma Road to the lookout on the west side of the butte. At the lookout, it started to get muddy so I turned around. It wasn’t sloppy, but a really sticky clay — I’d expect it to dry up soon.

    25. LeeAnn O'Neill says:

      Trail was almost perfect today. One small spot with ice on the climbing road and a few tiny squishy puddles, but otherwise great!

    26. Zach Blickman says:

      Thick ice covering much of the trail and I had to turn back. Radlands was great however.

    27. Travis Holman says:

      Almost everything was riding great today – either dry or frozen, but no mud. Cow Canyon however was an ice rink, extremely sketchy going down.

    28. Brian Coop says:

      Most of the trail is dry, but the Cow Canyon downhill towards Skull Hollow was tacky velcro – so good!

    29. Erik Santner says:

      We had a great ride yesterday 10/12/17!! Got into a little of everything, rain, gumbo, tacky, cows!! We ran into some gumbo on the west side….almost turned back…decided to press on, really glad we did!

    30. Brennan Morrow says:

      The dirt is getting a little Marbly due to freeze thaw. Still in really good condition.
      Cows are out there now.

    31. Brennan Morrow says:

      Trail is riding great. Smooth, and there is currently rain on Grey Butte which will further pack the trail.

    32. Erik Santner says:

      Rode this loop yesterday 9/5 around 1pm. It was definitely a little smoky…was surprised how good it was riding! Guessing few bikes, horses, hikers have been out because of the smoke. Typical sandy areas in cow canyon.

    33. Joe Myers says:

      Fire near skull hollow CG. Avoid riding grey butte area and follow http://centralorfireinfo.blogspot.com/ to keep up to date.

    34. Natalie Herse says:

      Conditions are still perfect, very little dust, perfect tread, tons of flowers…go get it! Beware of rattlesnakes though.

    35. David Caplan says:

      Conditions are excellent out at Grey Butte/Smith with good tread and tons of different wild flowers.

    36. Brennan Morrow says:

      Conditions Perfect. Be aware there is a Horse event May 5th 6th 7th on gray butte, not a good weekend to ride Gray.

    37. Al Ullman says:

      Rode Gray Butte this wkend.. trail conditions about as close to perfect as Gray Butte gets.
      Zero sign of the sticky clay that can trash your bike, only a few very small water puddles on the backside of Gray.
      Minimal loose rocks & sandy areas that you often run into as the riding season progresses.
      Get it while it’s good.

    38. Zach Blickman says:

      Other than a few small muddy patches heading up from the orchard lot, all good! Downhill section is perfect.

    39. Rob Dorshorst says:

      currently, Thursday, a lot of water/some mud on single track north of overhead powerline, where summit road crosses on way to Grey Butte TH

    40. Jeff Johnston says:

      We rode Grey Butte on Sunday 3/19, and it was mostly great. 2 or 3 muddy spots, but nothing to stop a great ride experience, or cause trail damage.

    41. Joe Myers says:

      Report of a wet north side. Walk over this mud, Do not attempt to ride. See above.

    42. Brent Edens says:

      As of March 4/5 there was still a lot of snow on the north part of the loop – the single track was still pretty snowed in and there were still substantial patches on the Skull Hollow Road.
      Hopefully it’s melting out quickly…!

    43. Joe Larson says:

      Dec 1st. Trail is in good shape. Light snow dusting in shade on back side of Gray Butte. No mud. Lots of exposed wind in spots and cold in shade – dress in warm layers.

    44. Brennan Morrow says:

      Currently really nice. About 10% of the trail has some choppy conditions due to cattle hiking the trail when muddy. Otherwise it is very fast.

    45. Brennan Morrow says:

      Rode from west side. Dirt is perfect. Packed tight in most areas and rolling fast. Cows are gone for the season. No mud.

    46. Marsh Chamberlain says:

      Riding really good, went clockwise, that first bit is steep!

    47. Brent Edens says:

      Wild flowers and endurance runners. riding really well right now!

    48. Brent Edens says:

      Really nice today (Feb. 25)
      80% dry, 15% damp (visible signs of water content- tacky), 5% moist (Not leaving any trenches, but fairly saturated.)
      The only part that I would say actually had any mud was around the creek crossing right after the road section north of Gray Butte.
      Such a good trail!

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