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Barnes Butte IronHorse Trail Prineville Oregon

Updated on September 5, 2012


Recently in my hometown of Prineville, Oregon, we got a marvelous surprise. Brooks Resources, a large development company located here in Central Oregon, installed and opened a new public trail giving local residents and visitors something they have never had. Access to Barnes Butte and the surrounding BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land.

The dilemma before for those of us who call ourselves Prinevillains was that Barnes Butte could be hiked on yet there was no public access to the butte itself. In order to hike on or up Barnes Butte, you had to cross private property though many locals were never sure exactly who owned what or if it was possible to get permission to cross private property. Consequently, many folks took it upon themselves to cross the wetlands and just hike up the butte, which really does constitute trespassing.

This new trail, however, makes hiking Barnes Butte accessible to anyone and everyone. Come along with me on a cool Saturday morning for a beautiful hike with my two young malamutes and my husband, Bob.

Hopefully this photo tour will make your hike more enjoyable and also show you the terrain you can expect on this hike.


Barnes Butte
Barnes Butte | Source


The hike itself is fabulous. You will see all kinds of beautiful vistas from the different lookout points.

There are some salient bullet points, however, that should be pointed out.

  • This trail is 3.6 miles round trip but that is from point A to point B.
  • There are several other offshoot trails that you can venture down so the trip could be longer depending on where you decide to go.
  • The trail itself is more like a path. It is pretty well marked (ties on trees in case you're wondering what those are for).
  • The trail is very rocky in parts. Especially with dogs it can be a literal stumbling block if you aren't paying attention to your footing.
  • The trail at the beginning is a gradual and steady climb. You end up at about 3400 feet by the end of the climb so you may want to rest along the way.
  • The trail does have 3 lookout points which will guide you to different paths.
  • You can get just about a 360 degree view of Prineville even though there are only 3 spots to stop and view. Some spectacular vistas are visible from the main trail as well.


Much of the trail is like this
Much of the trail is like this
Though some of the trail is wide and easy
Though some of the trail is wide and easy


  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Multiple layers of clothing
  • Water
  • Binoculars
  • Walking stick
  • Camera
  • Backpack
  • Band-aids and hand wipes
  • Compass
  • Snacks or energy bars
  • Lunch if you plan on hiking for a while
  • Waste bags for your dogs
  • Cell phone

What is a butte? A butte is a prominent isolated hill with steep sides and a flat top (though some are flatter than others here).



  • Start of the hike is a little difficult to find
  • Watch your footing at all times
  • No bathrooms are available either at the beginning of the hike or anywhere along the trail
  • Wildlife is abundant in this area to include deer, coyotes, badgers, rats, birds, etc.
  • Cougars have been reported in this area at times
  • In warmer temperatures definitely be alert for rattlesnakes and other large snakes
  • Cell coverage should be present because there is a tower on the trail but test it periodically
  • Always tell someone where you are going - this is a remote trail which starts at the edge of a housing development
  • Temperatures plummet to freezing at night at certain times of the year and you would not want to be trapped outside at night or early morning
  • Buddy system is the best plan on this hike because it is easy to get lost or turned around



  • Once you get to Prineville, proceed east on Third Street (the main street of town)
  • Go north on Combs Flat Road (turn left)
  • Turn right onto Laughlin Road
  • Turn left on Wayfarer Drive
  • The trail actually starts just opposite the sign post for streets Wayfarer and Angler (asphalt surfaced going up a slight hill and winding up into the trail)
  • Parking is street parking

Go to for more information


The hike itself is billed as easy but I would classify it as at least moderate if not moderately difficult just because of the rocky trail in many parts and ascent rate.

Of note, I can see how some folks might become disoriented on this trail because it is not extremely well marked.

Always let someone know where you are going as when we hiked this trail, there was only 1 other twosome hiking. They were descending just as we started the trail so it was only us hiking for several hours.

There is no check-in point or any place to acknowledge that you have gone up the trail. The only clue if you drove there would be your car parked on the street at the bottom of the trail.



Prineville vista
Prineville vista
Ironhorse vista
Ironhorse vista
Ochoco vista
Ochoco vista



Third Street Prineville:
Prineville, OR, USA

get directions

Laughlin Road Prineville:
NE Laughlin Rd, Prineville, OR 97754, USA

get directions

NE Angler Drive Prineville:
NE Angler St, Prineville, OR 97754, USA

get directions



You are there!
You are there!
Go straight through the stop sign and hit the asphalt trail to reach the trail head
Go straight through the stop sign and hit the asphalt trail to reach the trail head


Watch for ribbons that mark the trail
Watch for ribbons that mark the trail
See the Cascades off in the distance
See the Cascades off in the distance
Juniper tree full of berries
Juniper tree full of berries
Juniper berries everywhere
Juniper berries everywhere
Dead trees and snags abound
Dead trees and snags abound
Colorful rock formations of Central Oregon
Colorful rock formations of Central Oregon
Bring your dogs but on leash (bring waste bags)
Bring your dogs but on leash (bring waste bags)
Grand vistas from north, south, east and west
Grand vistas from north, south, east and west





Gabby Says Thanks for the Visit!


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    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      7 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Will~ It is a lovely spot.

    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Looks like a fun trail. Great views.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      7 years ago from Washington

      Hanna - Ha ha - indeed - I usually take my laptop with me in the car and do some of my stuff on the way - but have to do the 'work' to get the pics. I did thoroughly enjoy the hike as did my pups~

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      That must have been a beautiful experience. I don't know, some people have a life of a lifetime while others slogging over a hot laptop all the time. hahahaha

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      7 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Eddy - I'm tempted to go check it out again now that it has snowed a wee bit but afraid I might end up at the bottom of the gully with the poor footing in the first place and old ladyitis~

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      Oh how interesting and I loved all your photos.

      A vote up up and away for this one my friend.

      Take care and enjoy your weekend.


    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      7 years ago from Washington

      No mushing spot there as it is pretty much uphill but some other spots close to this~

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      7 years ago

      What a beautiful place. It looks very peaceful and adventurous at the same time. Is there a good spot for mushing?

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      7 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Crewman - I'm not sure how keen I'll be trudging up there when it's warm though as I'm terrified I will run into rattlesnakes and I know my idiot dogs would not know enough to 'leave it' as I'd probably not see them until it was too late. I can see me running screaming (meaning fall all the way) from the mountain and leaving Bob to deal with the whole mess~! It was beautiful though and think I'll just keep to it during the 'cooler' months! I did wonder what it'll look like in snow so who knows - may try to do it then!

    • Crewman6 profile image


      7 years ago

      Gorgeous scenery, and beautiful photos. Make me want to grab a backpack and start walking!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Thanks for stopping by, BJ - ah you poor dear....only 80s~ We are anticipating snow today - it was quite cool on the hike although we warmed up nicely and quickly from the exertion. The dogs were in their element as perfect weather for them to hike.

      Have to say too that the exertion must have been somewhat high level since they were quiet for the entire day and that rarely happens~~~ Perhaps they got the notion that we were hiking up to release them into the wild....ha ha ha - not a chance - I'd release Bob back into the wild first! (only kidding folks)

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      Your photos are awesome, Audrey. And this hub makes me almost want to go hiking right this minute. The operative word here is awesome since it is in the 80s outside. I'll have to wait for some cooler weather - 75 degrees perhaps.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Pamela - It is indeed - even though this isn't where we live (we actually live opposite the butte and see it over the wetlands), it is a huge addition to the area~ Thanks so much for stopping by!!

      Arusho - Thanks so much for stopping by and lending credence to that very important fact~~ Always let folks know where you have gone in case something happens.

    • arusho profile image


      8 years ago from University Place, Wa.

      Good hub and very descriptive. It's important that people always let someone know where they are hiking.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Looks like beautiful country and I am glad they opened up the trail for the residents. You really organized this hub is a very professional way. Awesome!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      I know, Mary - I thought about that!!! It would have been so fun to go walking together. It really was a good workout - for us and the pups~~

      I did worry a bit about wildlife up there but we didn't see a thing - perhaps it was because the dogs were with us though - lots of birds though they were too quick for me to get any good shots. Another day~

      Thanks so much for taking the virtual trip with me!

    • profile image 

      8 years ago

      Wouldn't you know it that they would open that beautiful tail up after we leave town. That would have been so handy for us to do our walking. I love your pictures. It sure brings back a lot of great memories of Prineville.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Doodlebugs - Thanks so much for stopping in...and indeed, they are my dogs. Sometimes I'm very proud to claim them and then on some days when my Griffin is howling at passerbys and dogs alike, I would like to claim that they belong to my best friend and I'm being kind by walking them!! This particular hike, they got pretty tuckered out so they were good A+ day all the way around. And we did not see any wildlife which was probably another "good thing" when you have dogs on leash up in the who knows where~~

    • doodlebugs profile image


      8 years ago from Southwest

      Looks like an amazing hike. I enjoyed your photos. Your dogs (I'm assuming they are yours) are beautiful.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Cherylone - ha ha - me too actually but it was a good hike and as I say, my malamutes were whipped so I know it must have been a good one.

    • cherylone profile image

      Cheryl Simonds 

      8 years ago from Connecticut

      Breathtaking pictures, thanks for the 'hike', I all out of

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Thanks so much for hiking along with me, Gail~ It was an arduous hike simply because it was a rather chilly morning to say the least and we didn't know what to expect.

      However, it was a great hike and I have to say that my lovely mals were TOTALLY wasted the rest of the day so it must have been work!! My goal now is to figure out a pattern and make them some backpacks as I think that would have been the ult! Working and hiking - although this little jaunt seemed to do the trick for them even without a 'job' involved.

      Not to mention it was good for the 2 old farts who live here~~~

      Thanks as always for your kind comments!

      And Barb - I looked but I did not see any poison oak? I am going to research in my spare time and find out if it is indigenous to this area. Gabby did stick her nose under a tree and got a whiff of something potent as she sneezed LITERALLY for half an hour straight. We were worried we were going to have to stop by the vet's on the way home as even her eye swelled up a bit but then she got 'over it'.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Wow!! This was absolutely fabulous. What a wonderful bonus to have access to this trail right from your development. Your photos are stunning and the information you provided was very comprehensive, practical and interesting.

      Voted up across the board except for funny! Good luck in the contest. This is a great entry and I love that you even got a shot of your Malamutes into it!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      mljdgulley354 - Good for you - think you'll love it. Just take your time and you'll have a good hike of it. I think it ended up taking us about 2-1/2 to 3 hours because we went down endless little offshoots and trails!

      Barb - You and me both...Bob heard my little curses under my breath but not so much as I tripped on not one rock but probably 50!! I had a sore ankle at the end of it because I was so focused on the views and my dogs that I kept forgetting to look down.

      It was better than Smith Rock, however. Smith Rock trails are extremely flat and well maintained but the problem is there that they have HUGE snakes going across the paths all the time - the whole width of the path sometimes! To say I had a heart attack more than once would be putting it mildly~~

      Thanks gals for the read and glad you liked.

    • mljdgulley354 profile image


      8 years ago

      Very informative. I am looking forward to taking a trip to check this hike out. We live in Southern Oregon so it is not to far away.

    • WannaB Writer profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 

      8 years ago from Templeton, CA

      You did a great job helping potential hikers find the trail head and then letting them know what's to expect on the trail itself. Did you see any poison oak close to the trail? I think those rocks would be enough to make me reluctant -- and the uphill climb. I'm noted for getting excited about what's ahead and not paying enough attention to what's below eye-level. Rated up and more.


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