- 3 miles
- 1.5 - 2.5 hours
- Trailhead Elevation:
- 5520 feet
- Elevation Range:
- 5520 feet to 6160 feet
- Elevation Change:
- 640 feet
- April to September
This scenic trail offers a number of outstanding vistas from rocky crags and cliffs overlooking a great deal of the drainage basin of the East Fork of Beech Creek and the John Day Valley. One of the best views of this rugged country is from the top of Lake Butte. While this is not actually on the trail, the extra few minutes is worth the short side trek.
From the eastern trailhead, there are no major elevation changes on the east half of the trail. It deviates little from the contours, following the ridge line which divides the drainage basins of the main and Middle Forks of the John Day River for the first 1 1/2 miles.
Starting in the middle going west, the trail descends rapidly from 6100 feet to the western trailhead through moderate to heavy timber stands. There are several relatively steep grades of up to 28%. There are no springs or streams along the length of the trail.
Map + Directions
Route No. 1 - The east trailhead is accessed from County road 18. Turn west on Forest Service road 279 (look for sign at turnoff). Follow Forest Service road 279 for approximately 3/4 mile to intersection with Forest Service road 296. NOTE: The Nipple Butte trail sign is here, however, the trailhead is 400 yards west on Forest Service road 296 at the fence line.
Route No. 2 - From Mt. Vernon, drive north on US Highway 395 to Forest Service road 3940. Drive north east on Forest Service road 3940 to the junction with Forest Service road 3947 and turn east for 1/4 mile to Forest Service road 459 and drive to the fence line.