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Hike-in Required
No
Open Year-round
?
ADA accessible
No
Guided tours
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Bonney Butte is on the southeast side of Mount Hood, and it offers expansive views of the mountain, further north to Mount Adams, and south to the peaks in Central Oregon and the eastern reaches of the state. The trail to the summit leaves from just past the turn to the Bonney Meadows Campground, and the short, half-mile hike to the top follows an old gravel road. The road served what was once a lookout atop Bonney Butte, but the lookout has since been removed. Instead, Bonney Butte is now the site of a tracking and banding station for HawkWatch International, a Salt Lake City-based non-profit whose mission is to conserve the environment through education, long-term monitoring, and scientific research on raptors as indicators of ecosystem health.

Bonney Butte is one of 13 locations used by HawkWatch in the Western United States and Mexico for tracking and banding migrating raptors. It's the only site in Oregon, and it is well positioned along the Pacific Coast Flyway to monitor the raptors as they catch thermals on their migration route past Mount Hood and into Central Oregon on their way south. Monitoring atop Bonney Butte runs from the end of August until the end of October (or earlier if snowfall restricts access), and the site is open to the public. According to HawkWatch, the most commonly observed birds are turkey vultures, red-tailed hawks, Cooper's hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, and golden eagles, and a relatively high number of merlins are also seen here. Groups of birders frequent Bonney Butte during the migration to assist HawkWatch with their tracking efforts, and HawkWatch makes an effort to allow visitors the opportunity to release any birds caught and banded at the site.  

For anyone interested in learning more about raptors, Bonney Butte is a must-visit, and for everyone else, Bonney Butte is a great place to go for the views alone. However, the drive to Bonney Butte and Bonney Meadows Campground involves 4 miles on a rough gravel road. A vehicle with high clearance and four-wheel drive is highly recommended.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Birds of prey migration route. Panoramic vistas.

Cons

Rough, four-wheel drive access road.

Pets allowed

Allowed

Features

Big vistas

Location

Field Guide + Map

Nearby Adventures

Mt. Hood + Clackamas River Area, Oregon
Mt. Hood + Clackamas River Area, Oregon
Mt. Hood + Clackamas River Area, Oregon

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Mt. Hood + Clackamas River Area, Oregon
Mt. Hood + Clackamas River Area, Oregon
Mt. Hood + Clackamas River Area, Oregon

Comments

10/04/2018
Went a' hawking for Hawkwatch International. Saw my first Golden Eagle, got to release a Sharp-shinned hawk, and had Grey jays perch on my hand and eat walnuts. Walnuts are key.

Four wheel drive road isn't dangerous, just long and annoying. A car with good clearance will manage it, just plan on never making it above 5 miles per hour for what will seem like the rest of your life. Took 4.5 hours to get from my front door in Portland to Bonney Butte summit.

Spectacular views of Hood and surrounding peaks. Full exposure, factor windchill into your gear.
08/13/2016
I managed this drive in a bone stock '04 Forester. The high ground clearance of my vehicle was necessary, but I did manage to bump a couple of rocks on the undercarriage on accident. Definitely wouldn't do it in any lower of a car! Great views of Hood, as seen in the pic. I also did the hike at night from the nearby campground and saw some meteors!
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