Trips & Trails: Cinder Butte Viewpoint

Photo By: US Bureau of Land Management

If you’re heading to our new Overland Expo Pacific Northwest event in Bend, Oregon in 2022, you’re probably looking for some amazing places to adventure before and/or after the event. Luckily the area around Bend is chock-full of incredible places to get your tires dirty and experience the backcountry.

READ MORE: Why the Pacific Northwest Is the Perfect Place for Overland Expo’s Newest Show

Over the course of the next few months, we’ll be highlighting some of these adventuresome places in and around Bend as well as Oregon in general.

Just 17.5 miles east of Bend on Central Oregon Highway 20 is the Oregon Badlands Wilderness (OBW) area, a 29,180-acre area consisting of some remarkable and exciting geological formations like tumuli (cracked volcanic pressure ridges), narrow moat-like cracks in the ground and vast western juniper woodlands to explore on foot or on horseback through 50 miles of trails. No motorized use is allowed here.

The OBW is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) which also manages the Millican Valley OHV System just east of the OBW, and specifically the Cinder Butte Viewpoint, which is what I wanted to highlight here as a fun side route / overnight stay.

The Cinder Butte Viewpoint is a 14.9-mile drive through uneven, rocky terrain and sandy soil that leads to Cinder Butte and expansive views of of Bend, the Three Sisters, and even Mt Hood on a clear day. This trail is only a small part of the Millican Valley OHV System that includes over 255 miles of trails throughout the area.

Getting There

Take US-20 east approximately 2.5 miles, then turn north onto the Powell Butte highway and proceed another mile to the roundabout. Take the first exit onto Alfalfa Market Rd (which becomes Willard Rd, then Reservoir Rd) and proceed east for another 16 miles. The Four Corners OHV Staging Area will be on your right.

What to Know:

  • Time: One day is enough for this out-and-back drive, but consider spending more time exploring the area, especially the adjacent Oregon Badlands Wilderness.
  • Distance: 14.9 miles
  • Fuel: Fuel is available in Bend, just 16 miles west.
  • Highest elevation: 4,244 feet
  • Water: Available in Bend. During the summer months, temperatures can top 100 degrees, so bring more water than you plan to use.
  • Permits: Oregon State ATV Permit Required this permit helps keep this OHV open and keeps trails in top shape.
  • Campfires: Campfires are permitted, but please keep them small and don’t leave them unattended. High winds and dry conditions can fuel a wildfire even at unlikely times of the year.
  • Other considerations: The Millican Plateau area is remote and visitors should be equipped to be self-sufficient. Riders should wear appropriate safety gear, carry a first aid kit, and never ride alone. Most Forest Service and BLM personnel have radios and can give assistance. There is a cellular phone repeater on Grizzly Mountain and coverage is fair for most of the area. Millican Plateau is open year round. North Millican and South Millican have seasonal closures.

Note: This editorial is for informational purposes only.  Trail conditions are variable and should be researched and confirmed by you prior to use.  Always obey property lines and use common sense to verify boundaries, roads, and trails.

Photo by Brett Willhelm

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