There are so many great hikes in Central Oregon, it can be tough to choose where to start. For beginner hikers or families here’s a couple of easy to get to – and more importantly – easy to conquer starter-hikes.
Flanking the Deschutes River near Bend’s Old Mill District, the Deschutes River Trail is a 3-mile loop that starts near Farewell Bend Park. The path is well-maintained and perfect for whatever pace you’re up for, you can even tackle the trail with strollers. Dogs are allowed and there’s plenty of places to relax and take in the sights that seems to get better around every corner.
About 25 miles up the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, Sparks Lake offers unparalleled mountain views. The Ray Atkeson hiking loop starts off as a paved pathway but quickly turns into a trek through the forest. This hike is considered easy just don’t forget your water bottle as the hike can get hot in a hurry. If you’re not up for the full hike — follow the paved pathway for a half mile to the viewpoint. It’s impossible to not be awestruck by South Sister and Broken Top and it’s easy to see why this area was named for Atkeson, a famed landscape photographer. No matter what time of year it is, this spot is a photographer’s dream.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get better than that, there’s the hike nearby at Todd Lake. After a short walk from the parking area, you’re hit larger than life views of Broken Top. It’d be easy to stay right there all day, but there’s so much more to experience. The 1.8 mile trail around the lake is heavily used but there’s plenty of room to spread out and find your own little piece of paradise for the day.
Todd Lake is extremely family friendly because of it’s easy to navigate paths and lots of places to have a picnic. You might wonder why the far side of the lake seems to be the most popular, but it doesn’t take long to find out.
From the looks of it, Todd Lake should probably be called Frog Lake! Kids can spend hours chasing the quick little guys around but be aware, this is strictly a catch and release area. No matter what hike you decide on, you’re guaranteed a great day when you’re outside in Central Oregon.
More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.
Hiking Black Butte – Central Oregon’s Iconic & Majestic Cinder Cone
From a distance, Black Butte looks like it doesn’t quite match the picturesque alpine mountains that surround it. The volcanic rock that emerges above the tree line gives the impression of a hill constructed with loose stones that was carelessly dropped in the middle of the woods. Unlike the Cascades that puncture the horizon to the west and north, Black Butte can be hiked and enjoyed in under four hours.
Pumpkin Patches + Petting Zoos = Fall Family Fun
As soon as the first hint of autumn rolls around, my three kids ask on a regular basis when we can go to the pumpkin patch. This is not simply because they’re eager to gather Halloween décor. To my kids (all under the age of 12), fall means visiting the farm and getting all the animal petting, ropes course playing and barbecue eating they can squeeze into one afternoon.
Adventures Abound Starting at Sunriver Resort
Sunriver is the type of place that takes your breath away no matter what season it is. During the summer you can hop on a horse for your very own wild wild west experience. The team at Sunriver Stables will make you feel comfortable on your ride, even if you’ve never saddled up before. Whether you’re in a tube or a kayak, floating down the Deschutes River is a relaxing activity that’s fun for the whole family.
Casual Family Weekend in Sunriver
Imagine this: you’re riding your bike through a rolling meadow, the Cascade mountain range in the background, and the only sound is from the whir of a prop plane taking off against a crisp blue sky. Up ahead, your children pull carrots from their pockets and present them to a gathering of friendly horses in an adjacent pasture.
Lava Lands Visitor Center a Central Oregon Geologic Gem
In the late 1960s NASA looked for a place to send astronauts who were training for a mission that would change the world. But before the mission could happen, NASA needed a place to mimic what they believed those astronauts would find on the surface of the moon. Because, after all, nobody had been there before so nobody really knew what the surface of the moon was like.
Elk Lake Resort a Great Winter Getaway – And Getting There is Half the Fun
There’s a couple of ways to look at the annual winter closure of Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway: You can see it as cutting off your recreational access beyond the gate until the snow melts in the spring.
Mt. Bachelor is a True Family Ski Experience in Central Oregon
Three-hundred and sixty degree views of snow-covered peaks don’t come easy. Unless you’re in Central Oregon, in that case, they do! Mt. Bachelor is just a 30-minute drive from Bend or Sunriver.
Central Oregon Hiking Trails
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.
Bend Concert Season Heats up at Hayden Homes Amphitheater
Central Oregon’s iconic music venue, the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend, is bigger and better than ever before after undergoing a major renovation.
The Central Oregon Adventure 6-Pack
6 ADVENTURES…1 DAY….A LIFETIME OF MEMORIES. “You should do it,” they said. “Think about how cool it’d be,” they told me. “You get to do it during the work day, ya know,” they reminded me. So I said yes.