Horsetheif Butte


  • A lava rock butte emerging out of a plateau right next to the Columbia River in Washington
  • Explore and scramble over a mile of trails around on up onto the butte
  • Great views of the Columbia River and Mt. Hood.

Horsethief Butte lies on a 200 ft. plateau rising above the Columbia on the Washington side, just a few miles upriver from the Dalles Dam. Access is right off of SR-14 in a lot which requires the Discovery Pass, as the area is part of the sprawling Columbia Hills Historical State Park. The park encompasses the area around the butte, Horsethief Lake and campground just to the east, the Crawford Oaks hiking area (trail head just a little further east on SR-14) and the Dalles Mountain Ranch historical area along with the route up to Stacker Butte. The area can get hot in the summer but spring offers cooler temps and impressive displays of balsam root and other wildflowers on the upper hill sides.

While not an extensive area of hiking, Horsethief Butte offers a playground of scrambling and exploring with about a mile long trail that loops around the Butte and paths that cut up and across the rocky butte.

In such a small area I recommend feeling free to wander and explore among the scrambling areas (follow the trail from the parking lot straight toward the center of the butte and not right around it to access the scrambles up onto the butte) and following the loop around it afterwards. The scrambling is nothing too sketchy or steep, just requires good footing on loose rocks. Horsethief Butte is a great addition to a longer hike in the Crawford Oaks area or a visit to the Dalles Mountain Ranch.

Returning to the trail after some exploring around the upper parts of the plateau

Published by Jim Wilson

An avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast, I settled in Oregon after years of working on hiking trails in Southeast Alaska with the USFS and exploring the Pacific Northwest and rest of the country in the offseason.

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