A nibble, a nosh, or a feast: Visitors and locals alike can get a tasty sampling of the high desert by exploring the High Desert Food Trail, a self-guided journey through the region’s culinary and agriculture businesses. The trail aims to connect people to the many tastes of Central Oregon through experiences such as on-farm visits, stops at tasting rooms, artisan markets, restaurants and more.
The High Desert Food Trail is a partnership between a Central Oregon organization, High Desert Food & Farm Alliance, and Travel Oregon that works to increase access and spread education about healthy foods. Visitors who explore some of the 45 businesses (farms, ranches, restaurants, farmer’s markets, craft and beverage makers, and more) along the way might be surprised to learn about the region’s diverse and bountiful agriculture and culinary scene, according to staff from the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance. “Many people believe that local food is unavailable in Central Oregon due to our sandy soils and frosty nights, but we have one of the most vibrant local food scenes in the state,” said Annie Nichols, HDFFA Agricultural Support Manager. With stunning landscapes to marvel at, artisan offerings to feast on and resilient agriculture to experience, there is something for everyone on the High Desert Food Trail. Learn about some of the stops below. For the full itinerary, view the full downloadable trail map.
Trail stop: Bluestone Natural Farms, Powell Butte
Farm owners Mike and Onda Hueners both grew up on farms and together operate their own growing farmstead, Bluestone Natural Farms, in the rural Central Oregon community of Powell Butte. Here, visitors can take an educational farm tour, passing by 35 head of cattle, 40 goats, 40 pigs and 25 chickens, and exploring a greenhouse, milking barn and small storefront. The Hueners both hold separate full-time jobs (he as a landscape business owner and she as a nurse at St. Charles Medical Center), but have high hopes to someday retire and solely focus on their farm.
Trail stop: Feast Food Company, Redmond
Parked at General Duffy’s Waterhole in Redmond, this food truck partners with local farms to supply ingredients for the menu, which features items like a roasted pork dish, charred veggie salad, pork belly and burgers, with offerings changed seasonally based on what ingredients are available. When visiting, check the menu to see exactly which farms and other food purveyors have supplied the ingredients. feastxfood.com
Trail stop: Mecca Grade Estate, Madras
Dive into Central Oregon’s beer culture with a visit to Mecca Grade Estate Malt House and Tasting Room, situated on 1,000 acres in a rural area north of Madras and east of Warm Springs. This family-run malthouse aims to bring back the flavors of old European malts, with malted barley varieties bred in partnership with barley scientists at Oregon State University. Stop by to taste the difference this premium malt makes with a flight of beers brewed on-site. meccagrade.com.
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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.
Great Getaway: Sisters, Oregon
When pulling into Sisters from the West you’re greeted by a main-street cowboy town filled with local shops, western storefronts and lots of charm. But as you reach the far end of that main street (it’s actually U.S. Hwy. 20,) something different emerges. There’s some upscale lodging, a brewpub, movie theater, and spa that gives Sisters a whole new attitude.
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.
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.
8 Pictures That Will Have You Rethinking Some Life Decisions (Central Oregon Food Edition)
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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.
Sammies and Sandos: Central Oregon’s Best Sandwiches
Sometimes after a day full of adventure, all that you crave is a simple, yet delicious, stick-to-your-ribs sandwich. (And a beer, obviously.)