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Trout Creek Butte, OR - June 2023

K7RNJ's picture
Voice Cellular Coverage: 
Good, very usable
Data Cellular Coverage: 
Good, very usable
Cellular Provider: 
APRS Coverage: 
Don't know

June 24th, 2023. Trout Creek Butte (TCB) is the site of a now defunct fire tower 7 straight line miles to Sisters, OR and 21 or so to Bend, offering great views to the south of the Three Sisters and Black and Millican Craters to the west.

There are several paths to get there from either Sisters or Bend, each a mix of sometimes washboard gravel roads and routes marked to the...federal standard.  I went west down SR 242 from Sisters about 5 1/2 miles and turned left on Trout Creek Butte Rd, aka NF-1018.  NF-1018 will circumnavigate TCB to the south and becomes known as Pole Creek Rd aka NF-15 as it rounds TCB and continues on back to Sisters.  I suspect most outdoorsy types in the Bend area will be familiar with these roads as they, and many other connectors and spurs offer access to many a trailhead near the Three Sisters Wilderness and surrounds.

From 1018, I turned east at the Whispering Pine Horse Camp and drove around TCB from the north.  Feeling adventurous, I made my way up the east slope of the butte up a spur road with many a switchback until I rejoined the main road just south of the summit.  On the way up, I encountered downed trees and shrubbery encroaching on the road.  Consider carefully sticking to the main road if you're in a passenger car or place a premium on your paint job - the main routes are fine and I did encounter a couple cars that managed the route successfully.  It is much easier in a 4x4 or AWD vehicle.

This is a good one to bring non-ham friends to.  It's easy in the context of SOTA, offers great views, and contacts are fairly easy to come by on 2m FM.  I brought a tech and a non-ham with me and used that morning to extoll the virtues of ARRL Field Day, portable operations, and radiosport in general.  Between the fire tower, the views, radio, the great outdoors in every direction, and the ease of access to and from some of the more popular towns in the area, there really is something for everyone.


de K7RNJ