Directions: From Hood River head South on HWY 35. Turn left on Pine Mont Drive and follow for 7.5 miles. Road goes from paved to gravel to paved. Pass under the powerlines, obvious, next right turn and follow to parking area. MAP is here: https://goo.gl/r6NvQh
Launch: Walk up from Surveyors Ridge parking underneath the powerlines. Approx 15 minute hike. Launch from the northern end of the field.
LZ: From launch there is a large bump straight out from the northern edge of the launch. The LZ is just beyond this bump.
Conditions: Best suited for WSW - WNW winds. If there is too much North, you'll get flushed and may have to land short in the new clear cuts south of the large bump.
This is a wonderful old hang gliding site with excellent soaring potential. It is not a beginner site because it tends to have a large amount of lift, is somewhat turbulent, and the flight out to the LZ involves flying over a mile and a half of trees. The launch is a large grassy slope with knockout views of the valley and of Mount Hood. The glide to the new LZ is shorter than the previous LZ at the Ranger Station. The Ranger station LZ is still open but it should be for experienced pilots only who have the ability to land in a really small LZ with powerlines, and tall fences surrounding it. The glide out to either is long especially when facing a brisk west wind but we have found so much lift over this western slope that penetration doesn't seem to be a problem except in crosswind conditions particularly from the N.
This area gets strong west winds. Winds here will tend to be stronger, and more from the west than forecast for the Cascades. Mornings and evenings are safest. Wonder winds, strong steady late afternoon upslope flow also known as "glass off" and magic air, widespread lift over the valley just before sunset are both common here and to be sought after, especially in the spring and fall. Glass off usually will be better here than at Bingen as you will be able to start your flight earlier while Bingen is still blown out. Snow is generally clear by 3/15. Best way to check on conditions here are to use mesowest.com and look at the winds at Middle Mt., Parkdale, and Pollywog. Pollywog is at roughly the same elevation and is SE of Bald Butte.
Directions to Launch: This butte is just east of Parkdale, Oregon. The LZ is in the fields surrounding the Parkdale ranger station on the west side of Hwy 35. To get to the summit, drive north on Hwy 35 for 3.5 miles, then turn right on the obvious main paved road uphill (Pine Mont Drive). Follow this road about 7.5 miles. It will become gravel, then paved, then gravel again. In this area, there is a right turn through an always open gate labeled "Surveyors Ridge Trail #688." The road beyond this point is now closed to vehicles. You can walk the road in about 15 minutes. Generally, bear right up and along the ridge. About 200 yards below the summit is a steep downhill that can be very difficult to drive back up in wet weather due to very slippery mud. If you have any doubt, park before this downgrade and walk the rest of the way.
Site protocol: There are more LZs opening up all the time. The current Main LZ is located off Auberts Road and is the 3rd field on the left just after the 2nd home. There is an open gate on to the field and there is plenty of room to set up to land. Landing is best at the N end of the field where there is no downwind obstructions. Please check with the land owner prior to landing to check if he is harvesting. There is a place to park at the property E of the field, this also requires check in with the home there. These people operate an organic farming school and have many people coming and going through the day. You may need to leave your keys available for them should they need to move your vehicle. There is not room for more than 2 cars. If you have a larger group, park the other vehicles on the old weigh station pullout just N of Auberts Rd. The other LZ is the small field south of the ranger station and can be used as an LZ on weekends when there's no activity at the station, but it's a tight LZ and is surrounded by power lines and orchards. Do not land in the orchards adjacent to the ranger station as the owner has said he will pursue trespassing charges and/or confiscation of equipment. The trees take a long time to mature before being relied upon for years of harvests so he wants to protect his investment of time and care (in other words an ability to pay compensation for damaged property is not enough). Other private fields are available for landing occasionally, so check with local pilots for current LZ status. In order to fly here pilots should be USHPA members with an ability to land in a restricted LZ.
Erik Otterholt, site liaison for Bald Butte, 503.577.1570
Submitted By: Pete Reagan
Last Revision Date: 9/16/2016