1) Tumalo Falls Loop Trail
Families with small children might opt to stick with the first leg of the hike, which ends around the North-Fork Bridge Creek Trail Junction. After this point, the terrain becomes a bit more intense – rockier, more uneven and steeper – and is better suited for older kids with more experience. Along the trail, hikers can stop at many interpretive signs that tell the history of the 1979 Bridge Creek Fire, which burned down much of the surrounding area. From Bend, head west down Skyliners Road for about 45 minutes and watch for signs that read “Tumalo Falls.”
2) Pilot Butte Trail
Although the trail is just under two miles, it is a constant uphill that pushes hikers to climb around 500 vertical feet. The trail itself wraps around Pilot Butte, a lava dome created by an ancient volcano, making Bend one of four cities in the United States to have a volcano within city limits. As the trail wraps around the butte, hikers get gradually better and better views of the entire city and the surrounding landscape. The panoramic view from the top provides 360 degrees of discovery, revealing everything from dry expanses of the high desert to the lush and wooded lands of the Deschutes National Forest. A compass sits at the summit of the butte with arrows pointing to the distant mountains; peaks as far away as Mount St. Helens can be spotted on the clearest of days while nearby mountains like Mount Bachelor are typically visible.
The Pilot Butte Trailhead is centrally located in Bend, Oregon just off of Highway 20/Greenwood Avenue.
3) Smith Rock River Trail
Along the trail, hikers get to witness climbers in action as the trail winds past some popular climbing spots, including Picnic Lunch, Morning Glory, The Dihedrals and Christian Brothers. The trail continues to more climbing walls, views of nearby farms and cowboy country near Terrebonne, a meandering river where waterfowl like to hang out and many other rock formations. The views are even better at the end of the trail where hikers can catch a glimpse of the most famous rock formation at the park, Monkey Face. From here, hikers double back to the start.
From Bend, take U.S. Highway 97 north for about half an hour or 26 miles until you reach the town of Terrebonne, a small, rural farming community known for its thriving climbing scene and a couple farm-to-table restaurants. As you enter Terrebonne, you’ll see the towering rock formations of Smith Rock toward the east, and follow signs off the highway toward Smith Rock State Park.
4) Old Mill Reach – Deschutes River Trail
Along the trail, check out the Bend Whitewater Park, a popular destination for river surfers and kayakers as well as floaters during the summer. The park has an impressive hydraulic system installed at the bottom of the river that can be used to create rapids of varying sizes for different events. South of the whitewater park is the Old Mill District, offering food, drinks, coffee and shopping. Along the Deschutes River, you are likely to see wildlife—waterfowl relaxing in the waters and maybe even beavers.
A bit further down the trail, hikers are given a choice to either complete the southernmost loop or cross over the river for a shorter hike. Either way, you are granted views of the Deschutes River, a chance to walk out on a dock with views of the Old Mill and the smokestacks, as well as towering cliffs that line one side of the Deschutes River near the southern portion of the trail.
The hike is centrally located on the Deschutes River in the Old Mill District and is easily reached by driving down both SW Colorado Avenue and SW Reed Market Road.
5) Shevlin Park
The popular Loop Trail is a six-mile loop taking hikers beneath the shade of ponderosa pines, perfect for cooling off after a few steep hills. This loop crosses over Tumalo Creek twice and offers views of the wildlife that call the area home.
For a more creek-focused hike, try out the Tumalo Creek Trail which follows the waterway about 2.5 miles from the park’s entrance to the point where the trail connects with the greater Deschutes National Forest Trail System, and becomes a popular route for mountain bikers. Hikers are still welcome here, but keep an eye out for bikers and yield to them on the trail.
Don’t forget, there is so much to do in Central Oregon. From perusing the boutique shops to exploring the vibrant restaurants, breweries and distilleries, there will be plenty to do after you finish your hike.
More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.
Winter Tours You Have to Try in Bend and Central Oregon
Twinkling lights, fresh snow and fire pits bringing people together; it’s winter in Central Oregon! Bend and the surrounding towns within Central Oregon are great places to cozy up when the snow falls, and even better places to take part in winter recreation. Locals love to explore the nearby Cascade Mountains, with Mount Bachelor and plenty of sno parks located just a 30 minute drive away. Back in town, there are several breweries, cideries, wineries and distilleries waiting to be sampled. With so much to do, it can be tough to know where to start. Luckily, tours in Central Oregon that showcase the best outdoor and indoor recreation are available to help visitors make the most of their winter vacations.
Hot Springs in Central Oregon Near Bend and Beyond
Oregon is known for being an outdoor paradise; where else can travelers discover misty forests, snowy mountain peaks and vast desert expanses in one day? From the Cascade Mountains to the Painted Hills, volcanic activity has helped shape the many different landscapes of Oregon. Along with mountains and valleys, Oregon’s volcanic past helped create a host of hot springs scattered across the state. These hot springs are natural, hot pools of water—natural hot tubs. Some are more developed and have lodging nearby, while others feel completely remote and undiscovered. So whether it’s a soak under the stars in the high desert or a steamy pool in the forest, there’s a hot spring calling.
Ice Skating Rinks You Have to Try in Bend and Sunriver
Bend and Sunriver are two excellent winter destinations. The offering of winter activities in Central Oregon are immense. Snow typically falls fast and heavy and visitors get to experience a winter wonderland filled with snow capped Ponderosa pines and fresh powder. In such a winter wonderland, it makes sense that Bend and Sunriver would have a selection of ice skating spots. Whether guests choose to twirl on the ice, casually glide or just kick back with a hot cocoa while the kids play, a trip to the ice skating rink can help cap off any Central Oregon winter getaway.
The Ultimate Guide to Pumpkin Patches in Terrebonne, Oregon
Nothing signals the coming of fall quite like spending the day at a pumpkin patch. It’s tough to not feel the cozy spirit of the season when you’re solving a festive corn maze while bundled up and sipping a hot apple cider. Pumpkin patches in Central Oregon benefit from our desert climate and still get plenty of sunshine, even in late October. While smaller family farms all around the region will sometimes host fall events, the two most popular pumpkin patches both reside in Terrebonne: the Smith Rock Pumpkin Patch and the DD Ranch Pumpkin Patch.
Top 5 Tours to Take in Bend, Oregon
Bend is a nature-lover’s paradise blended with a hop-head’s dream; nowhere else will you find this much craft beer and this many outdoor activities. The city’s been growing quickly, reaching 100,000 residents in 2020, and with the growth comes plentiful opportunities for adventure. From walking the very halls that brew your favorite beer to any number of adrenaline-inducing sports, we have you covered for the five best types of guided tours in Bend, Oregon.
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.
Accessible Adventure: Easy Hikes for Families near Bend, Oregon
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.
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.
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.
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.