Central Oregon Hiking Trails

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 – Bend

EASY/MODERATE – 2-mile loop (nature trail and scenic viewpoint)
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 – Bend

EASY – 45.2-acre park (nature 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 the trail meanders along an open canal in southeast Bend. You will see wildlife, juniper trees, rabbitbrush 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 / Sunriver

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 / Sunriver

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 from the viewpoint at Paulina Falls.
Day-Use Permit is required*


Tumalo Falls – Bend

MODERATE – 5.5 miles
Tumalo Falls is a photographers dream. Lush forest, cascading water, easy access for all your gear. 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*


 

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
The Badlands 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 backyard 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 required*


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 about a half-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: 911

Winter Weekend – 48 Hours of Winter Fun

It’s a triple play when it comes to the perfect two-day winter stay in Central Oregon – starting and ending with three distinct experiences.

Sisters

Based out of Sisters, after a pleasant night’s stay at FivePine Lodge, head to one of the town’s renowned bakeries to start the day. If you’re staying at Black Butte Ranch, brew up a cup and lay out some pastries in your vacation rental. After that, head to Hoodoo Ski Area to ski, ride or do a little innertubing down these Cascade slopes.

After a morning full of downhill runs, head back to Sisters for a late lunch or refreshments at the Three Creeks Brewing Company. If you haven’t been able to find time to see the latest movie, head next door to the Sisters Movie House, built inside a big red barn. If the slopes have gotten the best of you, there’s always the Shibui Spa at FivePine Lodge, just a two-minute walk from the theater and brew pub.

Day two is exploration day. It begins in Sisters with a relaxed cross-country ski tour on the Peterson Ridge trail system, a hike around nearby Suttle Lake or an amble along the Metolius River and into Camp Sherman. Try lunch at The Lodge at Suttle Lake.

Back in town, it’s time to troll the art galleries or hit the winter series of the Sisters Folk Festival, where you can find big acts in an intimate setting.

A family ice skating at Seventh Mountain Resort

Bend

If you’re launching from Bend, and staying at DoubleTree, Riverhouse on the Deschutes or the Hilton Garden Inn, try McKay Cottage or Sparrow Bakery before heading up for a day of alpine skiing.

Those wanting to be a bit closer to Mt. Bachelor will find a haven at Seventh Mountain Resort, five miles from downtown on the way to the ski area.

Legs a bit weary and ready to head back from the slopes, stop by The Row at Tetherow for apres ski or head right to town for a brew and a burger at either 10 Barrel Brewing Company or Cascade Lakes Brewing Co. Lodge.

Come evening, Bend has dozens of wonderful dining options such as the venerable Pine Tavern near Mirror Pond in the heart of the city.

After dinner, downtown has several music clubs, regular big-time music acts at the Tower Theatre, wine bars and places to simply sit back and relax after a long day on the mountain.

Or, an alternative itinerary for Bend would be to start off the day heading up Century Drive for cross-country skiing at one of the designated Sno-Parks, sledding at Wanoga Sno-Park or dog sledding with Trail of Dreams at Mt. Bachelor.

Back in town, explore the shopping downtown or in the Old Mill District. The dinner fare in town runs from Middle Eastern, to Far Eastern to Pacific Northwest and Western. In any case there are top-notch restaurants for every whim.

The Village at Sunriver Shopping

Sunriver

A third two-day excursion starts in Sunriver, with its wide variety of accommodations from lodge rooms and condos to rental homes. In winter, Sunriver is like being in a classic European alpine mountain community – small enough to walk everywhere yet replete with a central shopping and restaurant village.

The drive to Mt. Bachelor from Sunriver is short. When your legs can’t take any more on the mountain, head back to Sunriver Resort, where there’s Sage Springs Spa to minister aches and pains, Sunriver Brewing Company for conviviality and several excellent dining choices at the Lodge and in The Village at Sunriver.

Day two in Sunriver starts with a leisurely breakfast at Sintra before heading up to Edison Butte for a cross-country ski tour. By the way, dogs are welcome at Edison Butte.
Ending the tour with a picnic lunch on the snow is a fitting finale to two wonderful Central Oregon days.

Sherar’s Falls Scenic Bikeway

Oregon’s newest scenic bikeway traverses the strikingly scenic high desert canyon of north Central Oregon, known as River Canyon Country.

Simply said, the new Sherar’s Falls Scenic Bikeway is one of the best, rural, accessible road cycling loops available in Oregon. You’ll be stopping for one “awe moment” after another

Start in Maupin, on the banks of the Lower Deschutes River. Cross the historic 1929 bridge, ride through the heart of downtown Maupin and finish your three-mile climb with your first of many Mt. Hood views. Ride across Juniper Flat, a lava flow that came from the High Cascades six to 10 million years ago. See today’s dry-land wheat farming and beef cattle herds as well as the bygone era’s homestead cabins and windmills. Sagebrush and juniper offer you pungent smells while you hear the plentiful population of the Western Meadowlark singing their state song.

Exiting Juniper Flat on the north end, descend into the Tygh Valley. Historically, the Tygh people settled here. The White River flows off of Mt. Hood’s White River glacier on its 50-mile trip through the Tygh Valley to the Deschutes. Tygh Valley Road takes you through shady oak trees, along the White River’s banks with grey squirrels and wild turkeys drinking from its crystal waters.

Turn east and head down the valley toward the Deschutes River through hay fields where mule deer, rabbits and antelope play. White River Falls State Park, at mile 21.5, offers views of some very impressive waterfalls.

Coast down Chicken Spring Canyon and WOW..You have arrived at the majestic Sherar’s Falls on the mighty Deschutes River. Named for Joesph Sherar, a 19th-Century wagon road builder, the falls is a Native American fishing ground, still used today. Look for the wood fishing platforms and the three petroglyphs. Cross the river and turn your bike back south. The remaining nine miles back to Maupin are right along the river. Hear the roar of the rapids, listen to the silence of the flat water, watch an osprey or river otter dive for fish, count numerous blue herons, spy the green springs on the desert hillsides.

Finish the 33.5 miles on the riverbank where you parked your car and continue to let the nature of Sherar’s Falls Scenic Bikeway soak into your soul.

The small vibrant town of Maupin serves as the bikeway’s start and finish, offering ideal pre- and post-ride amenities – a walkable downtown, friendly locals, restaurants, lodging and camping. The ride is best enjoyed in spring and fall and even on some winter days.

Central Oregon Winter Adventures

When the snow flies, Central Oregon shines. All you have to do is choose your adventure.

Mt. Bachelor

The model of a complete snowsports resort,  Mt. Bachelor offers 360-degree lift-served groomed skiing and riding from its volcanic summit. It’s been named the “Most Underrated Ski Resort” in the Pacific Northwest, and that’s OK by us. That means instead of packed slopes, all you get is packed powder.

With tons of groomers, several terrain parks, steeps, bowls and enough backcountry to fill your day, Mt. Bachelor has something for snowriders of every skill level.

Mt Bachelor in Central Oregon

Cross-Country Skiing

Like your trails groomed for skating and classic cross-country skiing? Head to the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center, Hoodoo Ski Area or the Virginia Meissner Sno-Park. If, however, you prefer un-groomed skiing on marked trails, then try one of the region’s 14 Sno-Parks. If making your own path through the forest is the order of the day, almost any place that has snow in the Deschutes National Forest is there waiting to be tracked.

Backcountry Skiing

Superb and among the most accessible in the country, backcountry skiing is just minutes north and northwest of the Mt. Bachelor Ski Area. A slightly longer haul is required to get into some virginal backcountry runs in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, the Three Sisters volcanic peaks from nearby Sisters and Pine Mountain east of Bend.

 

Skier in deep powder at Mt. Bachelor ski resort near Bend, Oregon

Snowmobiling

Thanks to the efforts of regional snowmobiling clubs, there are literally hundreds of miles of groomed and well-marked trails to “sled” throughout Central Oregon. Popular take-off spots include the snowmobile parking and shelter area at Wanoga Sno-Park on Century Drive near Bend, Edison Butte on the road between Mt. Bachelor and Sunriver, the Newberry National Volcanic Monument at La Pine and nearby Hoodoo Ski Area outside of Sisters. Another local favorite is to head from Dutchman Flat along Century Drive and out to Elk Lake Resort. Don’t have your own sled? You can rent one for a couple of hours or the whole day from Central Oregon Adventures – they set up shop at Wanoga all winter long.

Snowshoeing

Wherever there’s snow cover in Central Oregon, there’s an opportunity to snowshoe. Try marked snowshoe routes at Virginia Meissner and Swampy Lakes Sno-Parks off of Century Drive just outside of Bend. These are two main areas where snowshoers can find trails, warming huts and solace in the Deschutes National Forest.

Sledding

The place to be for family sledding fun is Wanoga Sno-Park off Century Drive on the way to Mt. Bachelor. There’s ample parking and plenty of room to sled, toboggan or inner tube. Bring your own hot chocolate or buy it from the snack trailer in the parking lot. Head a little farther up to Mt. Bachelor’s Snowblast tubing park and snag a day-pass for an afternoon of zooming down the mountain on innertubes. In Sunriver, SHARC has its own snow-tubing hill, and Hoodoo’s AutoBahn Tubing park is one of the largest snow-tubing parks in entire West!

dog sled_from J. Scdoris

Dog Sledding

Regularly scheduled dog sled tours led by qualified guides depart and return to Mt. Bachelor ski area every day when the resort is open for business. Trail of Dreams, owned by an Iditarod-competing family with their athletic dogs, take guests into parts of the forest many people never get to see. What an amazing way to experience the Central Oregon winter wonderland!

Fat Bikes, Hutch's Bicycles, near Bend, Oregon
courtesy Scott Wilcox

Fat Biking

Just like paddleboarding has taken over Central Oregon during the summer, Fat Biking is the new winter craze that has avid mountain bikers extending their riding seasons throughout the snowfall. Picture a rigid mountain bike on steroids – with blown-up tires that make it easy to pedal through and over the snow. Several Fat Bike-specific trails are available in the Wanoga Sno-Park area but other popular spots are near the Dutchman Flat Sno-Park, Todd Lake and along the snow-covered Cascade Lakes Highway. Since you’re probably not traveling with your own Fat Bike, local shops like Hutch’s, Pine Mountain Sports, Sunriver Sports and The Hub Cyclery have fleets for you to rent.

Ice Skating

Don’t miss The Village in Sunriver or Seventh Mountain Resort near Bend on the way to Mt. Bachelor. Both offer an outdoor winter skating experience that’s fun for your whole family. Drinks are rink-side for your apres ski. Or visit the new 4,000-square-foot ice skating rink in downtown Redmond.

Seventh Mountain Resort Ice Rink
Seventh Mountain Resort Ice Rink

Rockhounding

Central Oregon is home to Prineville, the unofficial “Rock Hound Capital of the United States,” where precious gemstones lie just beneath the land’s surface, waiting to be uncovered. Discover a piece of Oregon’s geologic past at one of many public recreational collection areas. Get the Rockhound Map from the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce (see directory, page 120) for a full-color guide to your adventure, with pictures of what you can find at each site, historic and geologic information, and lots of tips, such as GPS coordinates.

Winter Weekend – Getaway to Sunriver

When my wife suggested a winter weekend getaway to Sunriver, Oregon my immediate thought was, “Why? The world-class golf courses will be covered with snow.”

By the time the long weekend was over, I thought, “Wow. Thank goodness the world-class golf courses were covered with snow.”

I knew of Sunriver as a golf Mecca after seeing its courses, Crosswater, Meadows and Woodlands constantly mentioned in the national golf magazines I read. But I’m not an avid reader of any cross country skiing publications. Who is, right?

Sunriver Resort Lodge with snow on the ground in Central Oregon

So when we first came up with the idea for our mid-December retreat with kids in tow, I was a bit skeptical of the fun that could be had at what I only knew as the perfect place to hit the links. None of us are expert skiers and it takes roughly five minutes outside in the winter for my kids to complain about the cold. But we were gung ho about the idea of a true winter vacation and spending some time together in the snow.  And I’ll admit: Once I got on board with the idea, I got a little Clark W. Griswold about it – and my family would benefit from my over-the-top planning. They always did. (Or so I always thought.)

We scheduled our direct flight from San Francisco so we’d arrive early in the day, which would give us an extra half day of fun. After arriving at Roberts Field in Redmond and securing our rental SUV, we headed south on Highway 97 for about a half hour, passing Bend, commenting that it seemed much bigger than we thought it was and vowing we’d swing back up for some “big city” life at some point in the weekend. But for now – it was onward ho to Sunriver!

It’s been a dry winter throughout much of the west, and as some of the trip planning was taking place, I got a little nervous the promised “winter wonderland” would be nothing but a cold, gray, snowless trip to a fancy lodge in Oregon.

Luckily, Mother Nature was just as excited about the weekend as I was and granted our wish with some fresh snow — a LOT of fresh snow — on the nearby ski area, Mt. Bachelor, and, more importantly for us, several inches fell in Sunriver.

For our short trip we opted to stay at Sunriver Resort in a large Lodge Village guest room adjacent to the Main Lodge, Great Hall and overlooking Meadows Golf Course. (But for our longer return trip next summer with some friends and their kids, we’ll likely rent one of the plush homes at the resort offered by one of the many Vacation Rental Management companies.)

Sunriver Resort River Lodge Near Bend Oregon

With two kids who had survived the morning sharing a Ziploc bag of goldfish crackers and airline-sized glass of apple juice we headed straight for sustenance at The Village at Sunriver on the suggestion of our concierge at the lodge.

Steering the kids away from local sweet shop Goody’s (but promising a return trip) we found Hot Lava Baking and Coffee, a cute little shop with a locally interesting name – bonus points for us parents who got to explain to the tykes some of the region’s unique “geologically tumultuous”  history.  My wife and I got some parents gas: delicious locally roasted coffee while the kids shared a hot Panini and cocoa.

After a relaxing half hour getting our Oregon bearings beneath us, we were ready to really start our adventure – and we didn’t have to go very far to do so with the Village Ice Rink just a short walk away.

It doesn’t take much prodding to get two pre-teen kids who have never ice skated into rental skates when they know there’s a more than 50/50 chance they’ll get to see mom and dad fall on their keister more than once.

Sunriver Resort Near Bend Oregon

As far as true winter family experiences go, it didn’t get much more Norman Rockwell than this: A light snow, giggling children and a smiling wife making their way around a crowded community ice rink decorated with colorful holiday lights. Even after the planning, I could have called it good, gone back to the lodge, grabbed a beer, turned on some football and called the weekend a success. But we were just a couple hours into our extended holiday break.

We were just getting started.

With the bruises to a minimum and our egos intact, we headed back to the lodge to unpack, change clothes and relax a little bit in front of the fireplace.

While we could have stayed hunkered in our room and remained perfectly happy, we rallied and headed out for another walk to the Village for some dinner. Snow had been falling all day, but the roads crews were on it and our path to the Village was plowed enough for an easy trip.

We really hadn’t paid much attention to the restaurants in the Village when we stopped for lunch, so we were actually a little overwhelmed with the diversity of choices in front us now, even hungrier than before after a jam-packed day.

Never shy, I talked up a couple of people walking to the skating rink to get a bead on the best place for a quick, hearty bite. The answer from more than a few:  the Sunriver Brewing Company.

A relatively new player in Central Oregon’s burgeoning craft beer scene, Sunriver Brewing Company offers absolutely everything a parent could want in a restaurant: Delicious beer, wide-ranging menu filled with local favorites AND a dedicated children’s play area.  Let that sink in. A BREWERY WITH A PLAY AREA.

Sunriver Resort Near Bend Oregon
Child play area at Sunriver Brewing Company, courtesy SBC.

(Oh, the grilled steelhead and pulled pork sandwich were really good too.)

After our early dinner, the wife and kids strolled around the shops, bought a couple of Sunriver souvenirs, and, of course, hit up the aforementioned Goody’s ice cream and candy shop where the kids shared, of all things in December, a hot fudge sundae before heading back to the lodge for the night.

Back at the lodge, my wife and I sunk into an overstuffed chair and sighed. And this was only day one!

We got an early start on our Saturday, and there was a buzz in the main lodge dining area filled with families just like mine ready for their own Sunriver adventure to start. Kids saying “c’mon Dad!” and dads saying “let me get some coffee first.”

I talked with a couple of brave souls organizing large groups taking the shuttle up to ski or snowboard at Mt. Bachelor. I wished them luck in their effort of herding ski-booted cats, telling them we were staying a little closer to home base and keeping our skiing experience a little less…vertical.

Mt Bachelor in Central Oregon

So where are the Nordic trails in Sunriver? The answer when there’s this much snow? EVERYWHERE!

After procuring our gear and getting a short, but sweet lesson in cross country skiing from the fine folks at Sunriver Sports, we simply skied (or, shuffled..whatever) back to our lodge along what, in the spring and summer, is a paved biking/walking trail, grabbed our backpacks and headed out on to the fairways of the Meadows Golf Course.

While I was definitely living in the moment – another wonderful family moment – I couldn’t help but think about warmer times and piping a drive right down the middle, leaving me a short little wedge into the green.  (A true fantasy since I rarely ever saw the middle of the fairway and I’d probably need more like a 4-iron to get home.)

We explored the area for a couple of hours, stopping somewhere along the way take in the snow-covered scenery of Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters in the distance and eat the simple bagel sandwiches my wife had made for us with some stuff she grabbed last night from the Sunriver Country Store.

Sunriver Country Store Near Bend Oregon

It felt like we were a world away – we certainly were from our busy lives filled with work and school back home – but we weren’t ever too far from the lodge, civilization, warmth. There are certainly more options to get farther into the backcountry and the gang at Sunriver Sports, 4 Seasons Recreational Outfitters and others can point you in the right, albeit backcountry direction.

The kids were troopers – trying yet another sport they’d never thought of trying and seemingly having a blast. The only thing breaking the silence of the Central Oregon outdoors was the sound of our skis and our kids laughing behind us. (We left them in the dust…but made sure they remained within sight, lest they be attacked by Bigfoot…which we may or may not have told them lived the area.)

Cold, a little wet and a lot tuckered out, we finished  up our ski jaunt shortly after lunch – plenty of time to return our stuff, walk back to the lodge, shower, change and take a break before our next adventure: Hitting the town in Bend.

We didn’t plan to include Bend in our trip – and we actually didn’t need to considering  Sunriver had much more of everything we wanted than we had anticipated.  Still, we had heard so many good things about Bend that we had to check it out – and figured we’d put our SUV to use in the snow and take advantage of one of the numerous restaurants just 15 miles north of where we were staying.

We went to the more “upscale” part of Bend, the Old Mill District, home to shops like Gap, Zumiez, American Eagle and more. The kids and my wife did some window shopping while I ran into REI to get a new watch strap after breaking mine ice skating the day before.

Oh, I didn’t mention falling?

While the wife and I hoped to try out another locally recommended restaurant, we conceded to the kids and agreed to some burgers and bottomless fries at Red Robin and dessert at Ben and Jerry’s. (What is with these kids and ice cream in winter!? )

While the snowfall certainly made for the perfect weekend we had planned, I was comforted knowing had it been more spring-like, we would have had just as much fun.

The kids noticed a brochure for The High Desert Museum in the lobby of the lodge.  Checking out some of the area’s natural habitat and history would have been a great way to spend a couple of hours.

The Sunriver Nature Center and Oregon Observatory is even closer and features live raptors and a nature trail. With tennis courts, and fitness clubs, spas, playgrounds and more – it’s as though the resort was designed strictly for families. Like a Disney park without the ridiculous admission prices, long lines and giant cartoon animals.

Telescope at Oregon Observatory in Sunriver

With our weekend sadly coming to a close, we went on a family walk close to the lodge taking in the holiday scene as even more snow fell. We lived in Salt Lake City in our younger years, so we’re quite familiar with snow, but my wife and I both commented on how it just seemed different here.

The snow had a purpose– at least for us. The falling snow was like a curtain coming down on an epic family adventure.

We left Sunriver around mid-morning on Sunday to get back to the airport in time for our flight back home.

On the drive to the airport the kids were as quiet as they’d ever been in the car. Too quiet.  So I yelled back to them, “yo, what’s happening back there.”

“Nothing” my 10-year-old responded. “Just thinking about the weekend.”

I completely understood why.

The Hub – Redmond

Centrally located in the High Desert, Redmond is a community rejuvenated with upscale restaurants, a growing brewpub scene, ample lodging, vibrant parks and a bustling downtown district.

Through its music events, parades, farmers’ markets, fairs and festivals, Redmond offers visitors a true slice of Americana.

Nestled in Redmond’s backyard, Smith Rock State Park’s sheer, umber-colored cliffs is top destination to the north, attracting the worlds best rock climbers in addition to sight seers, mountain bikers and hikers.

Juniper Golf Club is one of  the premier courses in Oregon, with panoramic views of Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, the Three Sisters, Mt. Washington and more. A true championship course designed by esteemed golf course architect John Harbottle, Juniper has repeatedly been a U.S. Amateur qualifying site as well as frequent host of the prestigious Oregon Open.

Strategically located at the hub of the tri-county area (hence the town’s moniker of The Hub) the Deschutes Fair & Expo Center plays host to a wide range of events, including concerts, sporting events, auto shows, trade shows, weddings, rodeos and more. The venue offers spectacular panoramic views of the Cascades, meticulously manicured grounds and more than 100 acres of parking.

Redmond is also home to Roberts Field, our regional airport that features direct flights to several hubs: Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Denver.

Welcome to Redmond, Oregon Sign

Must see: The Deschutes County Fair & Rodeo or the display of hundreds of flags in Flag City, USA.

Must do: Walk Redmond’s downtown antique district and relax with a brew at 7th Street Brew House. In the winter, enjoy outdoor ice skating.

Live Like a Local: Bend, Oregon

SUP at Sparks Lake - Central Oregon

Nestled between the Cascade Mountains and Central Oregon’s desert plateaus, the quaint, former lumber town offers myriad ways to play outside year-round along with a dizzying array of craft breweries. Whether you visit Bend to explore the hiking trails or the ale trail, be forewarned, many who visit return, often for good.

A sanctuary for nature lovers and a beacon for the microbrew scene, Bend proves that good things really do come in small packages.

Hit the Trails

You don’t have to plan a day trip to get in a good hike. The Deschutes River Trail is easy to hop on from almost anywhere in the city, making it one of the most popular spots to run, walk, and bike. The path runs along both sides of the Deschutes River from Meadow Camp to Benham Falls, ranging from paved areas in town to single track dirt paths through the forest. The full loop (over eight miles) can be easily shortened by taking one of the many bridges that cross the river, a life force that flows through the city.

Another hike that offers a quick reward for your efforts is Tumalo Falls (Tumalo Falls Rd.), where a majestic view of the 100-foot falls is just a few steps from the parking lot. Continue your waterfall hunt on the North Fork Trail toward Happy Valley. Show some love to your feet with a quick dip in the gurgling springs you meet along the way.

Read the rest of this story highlighting Bend and Central Oregon at TravelMag.Com.

Acoustic Accommodations: Bend Hotels Offer Unique Musical Experience

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For musicians and music lovers, Central Oregon is more than just craft brews and bicycles. Breedlove and Bedell Guitars, makers of some of the finest stringed instruments on the market, have helped make Bend a mecca for musicians. Now visiting guitar lovers can enjoy the world-famous Breedlove sound from the comfort of their Bend-area hotel room with Breedlove’s and Bedell’s one-of-a-kind In-Room Instrument Experience.

Partnering with select Central Oregon lodging properties, including the boutique The Oxford Hotel and luxury golf resort Tetherow, guests of the two properties have complimentary access to a selection of Breedlove and Bedell guitars and mandolins during their stay.

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The Lodges at Tetherow

The In-Room Instrument Experience is a unique opportunity for guests to experience and play distinctive instruments that have been painstakingly handcrafted with passion, dedication, and craftsmanship here in the High Desert for more than 25 years.

“It’s no secret that a guitar can be a cumbersome travel companion, and we created the In-Room Instrument Experience with that exact challenge in mind,” said Sami Mulhern, director of marketing and artist relations at Breedlove and Bedell Guitars. “By giving their guests the unique opportunity to spend time with our locally crafted instruments at their respective properties, and to visit the Breedlove/Bedell showroom during their stay, our lodging partners have created an exciting new definition of a ‘Stay and Play’ vacation.”

The In-Room Instrument Experience product lineup includes:

  • Breedlove Oregon Concert (MSRP $2,265): Voted Acoustic Guitar of the Year in 2015, this guitar was crafted for the musician seeking well-rounded balance with a unique look.
  • Breedlove Pursuit Concert (MSRP $669): Exuding an earthy, warm response from a light touch.
  • Breedlove Crossover FF NT (MSRP $932): New for 2016, this mandolin is ideal for guitar players looking to expand their skills to the mandolin.
  • Bedell Earthsong Dreadnought (MSRP $1,990): The Bedell Earthsong Dreadnought is a truly planet-friendly guitar with incredible tone.

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About Breedlove Stringed Instruments:
Since 1990, Breedlove has been a passionate and innovative builder of remarkable stringed instruments, spurred by a desire to challenge convention and build the instruments of tomorrow. Breedlove’s master craftsmen craft acoustic instruments for artists seeking self-expression and liberation through music, but make no mistake: Breedlove’s world-class craftsmen don’t just build instruments, they design distinctively crafted sound. Visit us at www.breedlovesound.com

About Bedell Guitars:
Launched in 1964 and after a four-decade hiatus, Bedell Guitars re-launched in 2009 and is located in Bend, Oregon sourcing rare and special tonewoods, designing instruments and working with exceptionally talented craftspeople. Driven by passion, the company prides itself in its respect and reverence for the connection between the woods of its forests and music to create unique and quality guitars. For more information about Bedell Guitars: visit, bedellguitars.com.

Bend’s Les Schwab Amphitheater Goes Green

Jack Johnson performing at the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend, Oregon

One thing Oregon is known for is its progressive sustainability. After all, when you live in such a beautiful place, preserving it is top of mind! This mindset is no different in Central Oregon, and that’s one reason why Les Schwab Amphitheater has implemented a new sustainable program for all its ticketed concerts – the “Take Note Initiative.”

This new initiative has the potential to make a huge impact on reducing waste and making the amphitheater a more environmentally friendly venue. Whether you are a local or are one of the more than 100,000 visitors who come for the concerts each season, here are some things to “take note” of for your next concert experience on the Deschutes River in Bend! (For a complete list of upcoming shows, visit bendconcerts.com)

Take Note Initiative elements include:

  • Reusable pint program: Patrons may purchase reusable Les Schwab Amphitheater Silipints for $20 filled with beer or cider. Those who wish to refill their Silipint with additional beer or cider will receive $1 off their purchase price. These pints are meant to be brought back and used all season long at the venue’s 2016 ticketed concertsLSA SILIPINTS
  • Compostable cups: Beer and cider, along with wine and mixed drinks, will also be available for purchase in compostable cups. No outside cups or pints can be used for purchased beer or cider, though they may be brought for drinking water. Wine and mixed drinks will be sold in compostable cups, though the intention of the venue is to expand the program with smaller Silipint sizes and other drinkware alternatives down the road, to include these beverages. In addition, all food vendors will use 100% compostable cups, plates and utensils.
  • No plastic bottles: No single-use plastic bottles will be available for purchase during any concert, although patrons can use reusable cups and bottles to fill with water from drinking fountains and hydration stations. Visitors can bring their own empty water bottles, cups or pints or stop by the concierge tent to purchase single or double-walled canteens or pick up a free compostable cup.
  • Waste disposal program: Recycling, waste management and composting will be provided by The Broomsmen, a local group that is committed to promoting zero waste events throughout the Central Oregon community.

Lava Caves Offer (dark) Glimpse into Central Oregon’s Volcanic Past

Arnold Ice Cave near Bend, Oregon
Photo: Brendan Loscar | Arnold Ice Cave near Bend, Oregon

CENTRAL OREGON has been formed and shaped by the fire and molten lava of volcanic activity. This powerful force of nature has made the region a showcase for a variety of volcanic features. The lava tubes in Central Oregon are young according to geologic time. They appear almost as they did thousands of years ago when they were first formed. – From the Guide to Central Oregon Spelunking by David Purcell.

The Central Oregon lava caves are truly a unique geological attraction to our area. While you might read about several more caves in the area, be aware that many are closed year round due to attempt to protect sensitive cave resources.

Here are a few of the lava caves that are open to the public and easily accessible. Remember, be prepared by carrying a lantern or large flashlight and wearing appropriate shoes (the cave floors are rocky and uneven) and dressing for cool temps. It could be 100 degrees outside, but the cave temps remain around 40 degrees.

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LAVA RIVER CAVE

This has long been a popular place along the highway to stop and visit.  At more than a mile long, Lava River Cave is one of the longest lava tubes in the state of Oregon. This is one of the few lava tubes which has an improved trail the whole length of the cave. It enables one to take a leisurely walk underground and view the many geologic features of a lava tube. The Deschutes National Forest maintains visitor facilities at the cave during the summer. Lanterns can be rented for a nominal charge and scheduled tours are given by a naturalist. The facilities and access road are closed during the winter.

 

This was one of the first lava tubes to be discovered by settlers in Central Oregon. Early ranchers often chilled their deer meat inside the cave, which remains about 40° all year. It was first made a park in 1926 to preserve one of the geologic wonders of western America.

The lava tube is several miles south of Bend, on the east side of Highway 97. The highway passes over the lava tube just before the Lava River Cave turnoff. Easy road access, an improved trail and forest service facilities make this an excellent “first cave” to explore.

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Boyd Cave entrance

BOYD CAVE

Located Just SE of Bend off China Hat Road

This cave is located just a few miles southeast of Bend off China Hat Road (also called Forest Road 18 and Arnold Ice Cave Road) within a popular mountain bike trail system called “Horse Butte.” The entrance of this lava tube is a staircase through a small skylight in the ceiling.

The entire ceiling of the lava tube is thin and has cracked in many places. Breakdown of the ceiling and walls covers the floor in some areas. The piles of rock become more difficult to pass as you continue down the tube.

Two large fractures have developed in the tube and through them has washed volcanic sand. The sand has developed into conical piles which lie against the walls. Other sections of the cave floor have not been disturbed since the lava tube was formed. The solidified surface of what was once a river of molten rock has been preserved. Narrow trenches in the floor show where the last streams of molten lava flowed before the entire floor solidified.

About two-thirds of the way down the passageway the tube becomes so narrow that only a crawlway remains. A low rock arch such as this is called a “duckunder.”

Boyd Cave was one of nineteen lava tubes used by NASA to study the formation of lava tubes. Certain surface features of the moon resemble collapsed sections of lava tubes. The lava tubes in Central Oregon were chosen for this study because they are relatively young and unweathered volcanic features.

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Brendan Loscar/Arnold Ice Cave

ARNOLD ICE CAVE

Located just SE of Bend off China Hat Road

This lava tube has a massive flow of ice which cascades down into the cave. A long stairway extends down the steep ice flow but it can no longer be used. The ice level is rapidly rising and has almost covered the stairs. In some places only the top of the hand rail remains exposed. It is safe to enter the lava tube only if a mountain climbing rope is used for a safety line.

Several years ago a second room was present at the end of the cave, but the rising ice has blocked the passageway. When the lava tube was first discovered it was reported to extend for three hundred feet. Now, less than one hundred feet of the cave remains open. If the ice keeps rising it will soon fill the cave.

The ice in this lava tube was used as a source of drinking water by the Indians during the hot and dry summer season. Settlers have also used the resources of the cave. Pieces of ice were cut out and put in watering troughs for range cattle and horses. The town of Bend obtained its ice supply from the frozen lava tube. Ice was usually taken from the Deschutes River but some winters it failed to form. When this occurred, the only ice available was that harvested from ice caves.

The ice inside of the lava tube was cut into large blocks and hauled to the surface by block and tackle. It was then stored in sawdust and taken to Bend by horse and wagon. When electricity and refrigeration came to the area the ice industry faded away since cave ice was no longer needed.

SKELETON CAVE

(open May 1 through September 30 to bouldering outside of gate at cave entrance.)

In 1924, several people from Central Oregon found this lava tube and thought they were the first to discover it. To their surprise, a stick was found inside the cave which had the year 1894 carved on it. Someone had found the lava tube thirty years earlier and left a trace of their discovery.

The lava tube obtained its name because of the numerous bones that were found at the opening of the cave. An abrupt edge encircles the entrance and was a fatal drop for unwary animals. The bones of an extinct bear and horses were found and these have helped to show what type of animals lived in this area thousands of years ago. Intermingled with the relics were the bones of numerous modern animals such as deer, jack rabbit, coyotes, horses, and cows. Some of the bones were found inside the cave and were probably carried there by carnivorous animals. A few of the bones can be found at the lava tube today.

Like most lava tubes, the entrance to Skeleton Cave developed near the head of the tube where the ceiling is the thinnest. The ceiling becomes thicker as the cave progresses to the foot of the lava tube. For hundreds of years volcanic sand has washed into the cave and now covers the first half of the floor. Where the sand ends, a tributary tube joins the main passageway. The small tributary tube was formed by another lava channel which intersected Skeleton Cave. A short way past the tributary tube a section of the cave has a steep downward slope. The passageway at this point is almost circular because most of the lava drained out of this part of the tube.

Info Taken for Educational Purposes From the Guide to Central Oregon Spelunking by David Purcell.