If you’re interested in a great spring or early summer ride on gentle terrain with splendid views, look no further than Fourmile Butte. This volcanic cone not far from the town of Sisters was once excavated as a source of road cinders. Today its treeless summit offers a panoramic 360-degree view of Central Oregon and the snow-capped Cascade Mountains.
Getting to Fourmile Butte is a fun, easy ride on the Metolius-Windigo Trail and several forest roads. The route is signed with trailblazer diamonds on the trees (yellow diamonds along the Metolius-Windigo Trail and white diamonds the rest of the route), so it’s easy to find your way.
You’ll start at Graham Corral, a fabulous destination for long weekends of spring and early summer riding and camping. Whether you ride along the Metolius-Windigo Trail (which runs right past the camp) or on the other area trails, you’ll find easy, accessible riding that explores the beautiful ponderosa forest under sunny Central Oregon skies.
To reach Fourmile Butte from Graham Corral, pick up the Metolius-Windigo Trail on the west side of the campground. The sign indicates you’ll be heading toward Sisters Cow Camp. The trail is single-track for the first 0.7 mile, then it follows an old dirt road, Road 370. After 1 mile, the Metolius-Windigo Trail veers left off Road 370 and becomes a single-track again. This will be your return route, but for now continue straight ahead on Road 370.
Follow Road 370 to Roads 1014, 1008, and 600, all clearly signed with white trailblazer diamonds on the trees. Road 600 will take you part way up Fourmile Butte, then a spur road will take you to the summit.
Because Fourmile Butte’s summit was once an excavation site, it looks a bit like a red-tinged moonscape. But the views from the top of this cinder cone are spectacular! You’ll see North and South Sister, Mt. Washington, Three-Fingered Jack, and Mt. Jefferson, as well as sweeping vistas out over the Sisters-area forest toward the Central Oregon desert to the east. What a panorama!
After you’ve enjoyed the views and relaxed with lunch or a snack, follow the spur road back down the butte to Road 600 and turn left on it to continue around the loop. In 0.5 mile, turn left on Road 480, which soon becomes Road 400. Ride 2.3 miles, then turn left on the Metolius-Windigo Trail and follow it 3 miles back to Graham Corral.
Ride Statistics: The Fourmile Butte Loop is 10 miles round trip, going from 3,300 feet to 4,050 feet in elevation. The trail is suitable for barefoot horses. The trail is open from early spring through late fall. There is no stock water on the trail. The best map of the area is the Sisters Ranger District map.
Getting To Graham Corral: From Sisters, drive northwest on Hwy. 20 for 4.4 miles and turn left on Road 1012. Continue 0.9 mile, turn right on Road 300 and drive 1.2 miles, then turn right on Road 340 and continue 0.6 mile to the horse camp. The route is clearly signed.
The Facilities at Graham Corral: Graham Corral has 11 campsites, four of which have 4-horse corrals. There are also 4 large central corrals. All sites have a fire pit, picnic table, and room for 2+ trailers. The camp has a vault toilet, potable water from a spigot, and a manure dump. All sites and the central corrals are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Fee for overnight camping; no fee for day use parking.
More Information: The Fourmile Butte Trail is covered in the Black Butte chapter of Riding Central Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2012).