If you are looking for a quick sunrise hike with big views near Bend, you should meet Bessie.
Bessie Butte is located on the South East side of Bend, about 4.2 miles down China Hat Road. The hike to the top is a quick one, only 3/4 miles each way, and due to fires over the years, Bessie Butte boasts 360 degree views.
The Bessie Butte trial begins on the North Eastern side of the Butte, and gently wanders through a field of manzanita bushes before beginning the circular ascent to the top. A few hardy Ponderosa Pine trees offer a bit of shade, and make for excellent photography subjects about half way up the North side of the butte.
From there the trail steepens a bit, and the surface of the trail turns quite sandy. In the dry summer months, this portion of the trail transforms into the dreaded Central Oregon moon dust – the kind that if you have a four legged friend along transforms the air into a cloud of old volcanic dust.
Fortunately this is also where the big views of the Cascade Range come into focus – so the deep dust will quickly fade from your mind as you delight in views of Lava Butte in the South, all the way to Mt. Hood to the North.
The top of Bessie Butte is large and flat – making the perfect spot for a picnic lunch, a morning cup of coffee, or an evening beer while watching the sunset. While a variety of user trails exit the summit in many directions – practice Leave No Trace ethics by returning on the route which you arrived… and if you see a bit of litter on the way – please do pick it up to make the trip up Bessie even more enjoyable for the next hiker.