The hike up to Mount Pisgah's summit offers a marked contrast to the Spencer Butte trail, another popular trail in the Eugene and Springfield area. Most of the hike is through open oak meadows rather than in the shade of giant fir trees, and the much more extensive trail network allows for many route variations. The area around Mount Pisgah, the Howard Buford Recreation Area, covers 2663 acres. It is situated between the Middle and Coast Forks of the Willamette River, and it offers opportunities for hiking, swimming, fishing, horseback riding, bird watching, and special events. The 118-acre Mount Pisgah Arboretum is situated within the recreation area and was opened in 1973 with the intention of cultivating a showcase of trees and other plants from around the world. In recent years the focus of the arboretum has shifted to the establishment and protection of native species, causing no small amount of controversy among proponents of its original mission.
The main trail to the summit is often crowded, although the remaining trails get much less traffic. The view from the top is expansive and extends to Diamond Peak when the weather is clear. Eugene and Springfield are partially visible to the northwest. "Swing Hill," on the western side of the Howard Buford Recreation Area overlooking the Coast Fork of the Willamette River, is another popular destination. Its two rustic swings that hang from a large oak tree are delight for kids of all ages. Please respect dog regulations that require leashes on trails 1 and 2 (the main trails to the summit from the west and east sides, respectively) and voice control everywhere else. Leashes are required at all times within the arboretum. Resist the temptation to wander off the trail into the open meadows, as they are heavily infested with poison oak.