Horse Butte

Trail Details

Season: fall, winter, spring
Distance: 10 to 30 mile loop options
Hazards: bushes, rocks, sand

Often overlooked winter riding area.  This area is primarily three long parallel trails. Swamp Wells South, Coyote Loop, and Arnold Ice Cave.  Combine these with the myriad dirt roads in the area and you have an amazing amount of options for ride lengths and conditions.  All of the trails are more defined at their north end and get more and more ‘natural’ as you head south.  Lower Arnold and Coyote are open grassland thanks to forest fire which gives you some incredible views.  Swamp Wells and the upper portions of the other trails are all forested.  This can make quite a difference in snow levels in the winter. Elevations ranges from 3,800 to 5,500 ft.

This area does have horse traffic which tears up the trails.  As it gets ridden more the tread is firming up so it’s less of an issue.  If you go, you’re likely to hear lots of gunfire.  There are some quarrys on a couple of the other buttes that are popular with the local militia.

Directions to Horse Butte:

    From Bend head out to SE 27th St and go south toward the dump.  Just south of the dump turn left onto Rickard Rd.  About a mile down take a right onto Billadeau.  Follow that which turns into Horse Butte Rd.  About  1/4 – 1/2 mile after it turns to dirt, there is a turn on the right to Horse Butte Trailhead. Turn and park there or go a quarter mile down that road to a bigger parking area.  This is where they stage the 10 mile Horse Butte Run in the spring.  The Swamp Wells trail starts from this parking area.  The Arnold Ice Cave trail is opposite where you turn off Horse Butte Rd.

    Good maps for the area are Treadmaps – Central Oregon, Part 2 and Adventure Maps – Trail Map Central Oregon (Newberry Crater and Horse Ridge section).