Central Oregon Hiking Trails

South Sister-hiker beneath

From demanding full-day hikes to leisurely walks by the river, there’s a Central Oregon Hiking Trail for every adventurer

Pilot Butte State Park (nature trail and scenic viewpoint) | Bend
EASY/MODERATE – 2 mile loop
Head east on Highway 20 (Greenwood Avenue) to the Pilot Butte State Park. The parking area and trailhead are just east of the butte. Walk on either the nature trail or the paved road. The road is also for vehicle traffic, weather permitting. It is a wonderful viewpoint for the entire Bend area. This hiking trail is one of the most popular in Central Oregon.

Robert W. Sawyer Park (nature park) | Bend
EASY – 45.2 acre park
A large park stretching along both sides of the Deschutes River. Formerly a state park dedicated to the District in 1980. The park is connected by a hiking trail to Sawyer Uplands Neighborhood Park and River Glenn Natural Area. A footbridge over the river leads to the Deschutes River Trail and connections to First Street Rapids Park, Sawyer Uplands Park and Archie Briggs Natural Area. The site is adjacent to the River’s Edge golf course. The park has a mix of mature pine and juniper. It is a popular viewing site for migratory and riparian birds and is listed on the Oregon Cascade Birding Tour route. The picnic site is spread out making it ideal for small to medium size groups.

Larkspur Trail | Bend
EASY – 1.75 miles
Beginning near the Bend Senior Center. This stretch of trail meanders along open canal in southeast Bend. You will see wildlife, juniper trees, rabbit brush and alpine current. Dog stations are at each end of the trail This 1.75 mile trail ends at Pilot Butte State Park on Hwy. 20.

Shevlin Park – Canyon Rim Loop | Bend
EASY – 2.2 miles
Shevlin Park is a haven located less than three miles from downtown Bend and a perfect location for hiking, jogging, fishing, cross country skiing and picnicking. There is an extensive trail and pathway system providing for both summer and winter uses. From Highway 97 in Bend turn west on Greenwood. It becomes Newport Avenue in downtown Bend. Follow Newport out for about 3 miles. You will see parking areas on both sides of the road. Aspen Hall is on the right and the main part of the park is on the left. The paved road through the park leads to several different picnic areas as well as trails.

Deschutes River Trail | Bend
EASY/MODERATE – 3 miles
The quintessential Central Oregon Hiking Trail, this one starts in Bend with many access points and parking areas. It winds its way along the Deschutes River, passing through Bend, Meadow Camp and behind the Seventh Mountain Resort. You will see a series of waterfalls including Lava Island, Big Eddy, Dillon and finally Benham Falls. Turning west at the Lava Lands Visitor Center also provides access to this trail. Follow the road on your left for approximately 3 miles to the picnic area. Walk across the footbridge for an easy half-mile walk to Benham Falls. The degree of difficulty is low and provides spectacular scenery of untamed rapids.

Benham Falls | Bend
EASY – 3 miles out and back
Five miles north of Sunriver, this hiking trail provides a spectacular scene of untamed rapids. From Bend follow Highway 97 south 11 miles and turn right at the Lava Lands Visitor Center. Follow the road on your left for approximately 3 miles to the parking and picnic area. Walk across the footbridge. Benham Falls is an easy half-mile walk down the road along the river. This trail continues for many miles passing by Dillon Falls and Lava Island falls. Benham, Dillon, and Lava Island falls also have parking areas accessible via Forest Service Rd 41, just past the Inn of the Seventh Mountain.

Day-Use Permit is required*

Lava Cast Forest | Bend
EASY – 1 mile 
Travel south on Highway 97. Turn East on Forest Service Road 9720-directly across the highway from the Sunriver exit. This is an unpaved road, which goes nearly 9 miles to the parking area at the Lava Cast Forest. The trail is an easy, paved, nine-tenths of a mile, which wanders through many examples of 7000-year-old lava tree cast formations. This road is snow-covered in winter.

Day-Use Permit is required*

Lava River Cave | Bend
EASY – 1 mile
Thirteen miles south of Bend on Highway 97 on the east side of the road is the largest un-collapsed lava tube in the state. It is about a mile in length and 100 feet deep in spots. The sandy bottom makes it an easy hike, and the Forest Service will rent lanterns to you for a small fee. There is a nominal entrance fee as well. The cave is closed from late fall through mid-April due to the hibernation of resident bats.

Day-Use Permit is required*

Newberry Obsidian Trail
EASY – 1 mile

Head south on Highway 97, approximately 22 miles, turn east at the East Lake and Paulina Lake sign. Continue about 15-miles to the obsidian flow. This is one of the largest obsidian flows in the world, formed about 1300 years ago during the most recent eruption of Newberry Volcano.
Day-Use Permit is required*

Paulina Creek
EASY – 6 to 8.5 miles

The Ogden National Recreation Trail will take you along Paulina Creek, with no fewer than 20 waterfalls. Travel south on Hwy 97 about 22 miles to Paulina and East Lake. Go east, about 1.5 miles to trailhead parking. The trail is 8.5 miles long (each way), accessible from McKay Crossing Campground, which shortens the trip by 2.5 miles. The parking area is on the east end of this hiking trail for the viewpoint at Paulina Falls.
Day-Use Permit is required*

Tumalo Falls | Bend
MODERATE – 5.5 miles
From Hwy 97 in Bend, turn west on Franklin. Follow the Scenic Highway through downtown Bend along Drake Park. Turn right on Galveston at the west end of the park, and follow this road out for eleven miles. Turn right over the bridge. The pavement ends but the road continues for an additional 3 miles to a parking area at the falls. There is a very short hiking trail up to the falls, which connects to some of the snow park areas and other trails. Road closed in winter Day-Use Permit is required*

Cascade Lakes Highway
Remember you are in a Wilderness Area and that special rules apply. There is no access in winter. Trailheads in this area offer a variety of hikes for just about any length of trip you desire.
Day-Use permit is required*

Mt. Bachelor Summit Trail
EASY/MODERATE – 2.5 miles

Drive west on Cascade Lakes Highway for approximately 18 miles to Mt Bachelor’s first entrance at Sunrise Lodge. The 2.5 mile trail to the top of Mt. Bachelor is accessible in Summer and Fall and starts from the Sunrise Lodge area.
The trail begins just west of the Sunrise chairlift and winds around through the trees. The top portion of the trail above the top of Sunrise chair goes through the lava rock itself and has beautiful open views of Broken Top and the Three Sisters. From the top, at 9065 feet, you can see nearly all of the Cascade Range to the North, and the nearby lakes along the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway.

Green Lakes Trail
EASY/MODERATE  – 9 miles out and back
The Green Lakes hiking trail has its own parking lot across from the Sparks Lake meadow with a wonderful view of the north side of Mt. Bachelor. The trail winds along the Fall Creek through large pine trees and fields of lupine. You will see lots of small waterfalls. Follow the trail for 4.5 miles up to the Green Lakes, or cut off to the west after about 2 miles on the Moraine Lake trail, which is another couple of miles long. There is access to the South Sister Trail from the Green Lakes area.

Todd Lake Trail
EASY – about 2 miles
This popular route is the closest Cascade Lakes hiking trail to town, located just past Mt. Bachelor on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. The trail is an easy walk around the lake with spectacular views of Mt. Bachelor along the way.

Ray Atkeson Memorial Trail 
EASY- 2.3 mile loop
Located at Sparks Lake, this trail is another easy hiking trail for folks of all ages. It takes you through some pretty cool lava rock flows that include sheer walls and deep chasms. If you take the trail clockwise, the best views of Sparks Lake and South Sister are waiting for you at the end.

The Badlands
EASY/MODERATE – Routes ranging from 5 to 15 miles

This wilderness area east of Bend is a great place to explore the Central Oregon Desert. Take Hwy 20 east about 20 miles. Turn north at the gravel pit, follow the road to the parking area.

Smith Rock State Park
EASY TO DIFFICULT – Varying routes and lengths
This area is a must-see in Central Oregon. Drive north on Highway 97 through Redmond to Terrebonne. Turn right (east) at the flashing light. Turn left on NE 1st Street and proceed 2 miles, turning left at the state park signs. The park is another 0.7 miles. The picnic area has beautiful views of the rock formations where people from all over the world come to climb. Numerous hiking trails suitable for everyone follow the river down into the Crooked River Canyon. The Misery Ridge hiking trail is a little tougher, but well worth the walk.

Day-Use Permit is required*

Suttle Lake Trail | Near Black Butte Ranch
EASY – 3 miles

Suttle Lake is just a few miles west of Black Butte Ranch, and about 15 miles west of Sisters. Follow the signs off Highway 20 to Suttle Lake Resort, then to the Day Use area on the NE corner of the lake. The trail goes right along the lake through the back yard of someone’s campsite with plenty of access points. The hiking trail offers unrivaled mountain scenery.

Black Butte Trail | Black Butte Ranch
MODERATE – 2 miles

This hiking trail is 2 miles long going to the lookout station on top of Black Butte, at 6436 feet. The trail winds through open timber with wonderful views of the Three Sisters and Broken Top on the way up. On a clear day you can see nearly the entire Cascades Range! Take Highway 20 from Bend through Sisters to Forest Service Road 1110, near the Indian Ford Campground. Follow signs to the trail.
Day-Use Permit required*

Head Of Jack Creek | Near Sisters
EASY – 3 miles
Travel west on Hwy 20 through Sisters, approximately 15 miles. Turn north on Forest Service Road 12, for about 1.5 miles and then turn left on FS Road 1232. It is about 1 mile to the trailhead. This hiking trail loops through the headwater springs.

Day-Use Permit required*

Metolius River Trail | Near Black Butte Ranch
EASY – 12 miles
This is an excellent year-round hiking trail and several starting points are accessible. Huge artesian wells, the source of the Metolius River, and further downstream is the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery. One trailhead starts from the Canyon Creek Campground off Forest Service Road 1420. You can also start at the Wizard Falls Hatchery. Total distance to Bridge 99 is three miles.

Day-Use Permit require*

Dee Wright Memorial Trail | Near Sisters
EASY – .5 miles
Located at McKenzie Pass on Highway 242, 15 miles west of Sisters. Beautiful view of the Cascade Mountains with a paved hiking trail through one of the most recent lava flows in the United States. The trail is 0.5 mile long with interpretive signs along the path. It is closed in the winter.

For Additional Information Contact:
Central Oregon Welcome Center 541-389-8799
Lava Lands Visitor Center 541-593-2421
Bend-Ft. Rock Ranger District 541-383-4000
Sisters Ranger District 541-549-7700
Oregon State Parks 541-388-6055
Bend Parks & Recreation 541-389-7275
Fishing License, Fish & Wildlife 541-388-6363
Road Conditions, ODOT 800-977-6368
Emergency

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4 Comments

  1. Posted October 2, 2014 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Excellent article on Fall hikes.

  2. CAROL MASSI
    Posted August 16, 2016 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    what are you prime weeks for fall leaf color?

    • Ted Taylor Ted Taylor
      Posted August 23, 2016 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      The last couple of weeks in October are usually the prime time to see the vibrant fall colors in Central Oregon. Late September/October is my favorite time of year here. The weather is absolutely perfect!

  3. Posted September 16, 2016 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    This trail is rated easy/moderate- that may be true for the first 800 vertical feet, to the top of Sunrise chairlift. However, the next 1700 vertical feet to the top is very rocky and is moderately difficult, especially if you are a flat-lander. Not for the casual hiker.

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