Hiking in Bend, Oregon

When it comes to hiking, Bend has it all: sweeping desert vistas; breath-taking canyons; rushing streams; clear, high-mountain lakes; and snow-capped alpine peaks.

To make the most of your hiking in Bend and the nearby area decide what kind of experience, what there is to see and how much time to spend. Once that’s decided, Bend, Oregon backpacking routes and the Bend hiking trails lead to adventure.

Riverhouse on the Deschutes in Bend is the ideal base camp for your expeditions. Find the best deals at Riverhouse on the Deschutes’s hot-deal dates and save 20 to 30 percent on summer rates on special days (Details and restrictions apply).

Downtown Bend Hiking Trails

Great hiking starts in the middle of town. The clear, scenic Deschutes River cuts through the center of Bend, rushing past various rock formations, cliffs and volcanic geology, and its rapids and pools make the river a must-see.

There is a well-maintained system of hiking trails along its banks for most of the way. The Bend Park & Recreation District currently is working on a 19-mile, fully connected river trail between Tumalo State Park and Meadow Camp. The current trail system is divided into five sections, which are defined by landscape characteristics.

The trail is flat, and well-suited for the casual walker out for a quick stroll, or it can challenge the most-ambitious hiker. Decide how strenuous this hike will be.

Hiking Bend, Oregon’s High Desert Trails

Experience some the High Desert’s most-stunning landscapes in the Badlands, just 16 miles east of town on U.S. Highway 20.

At 29,000 acres, the Oregon Badlands Wilderness “… represents an outstanding example of ancient Western juniper woodlands atop Columbia River Basalts,” according to its website.

Almost 50 miles of trails offer hikers or horseback riders loops of various lengths, and access from parking lots is easy. The elevation change is about 50 feet, so the hiking is not difficult. However, the sandy soil can be challenging. The best times to visit desert areas are in the spring and fall; summer features heat extremes. There is no water in the Badlands, so carry an ample supply.

Soaring, Majestic Rock Formations

Smith Rock State Park, about 20 miles from Bend, is a nationally known rock-climbing destination.

In addition to spectacular basalt cliffs and soaring canyon vistas, the 651-acre park has trails suitable for the whole family, including a 30-minute hike along the Crooked River. The trails wind over the top of the river canyon or along the river.

Most of the trails intersect with other routes, so the ambitious hiker can add miles as the inclination strikes.

Along the Cascade Lakes Trails

In the summer, experience the spectacular beauty of pristine alpine lakes. Bend is within easy distance of a number of beautiful lakes, as well as many rivers and streams.

The Green Lakes Loop is one of the most popular hikes in the Three Sisters Wilderness, so don’t expect solitude. On summer weekends after the snow has melted, the trail is heavily used.

Backpacking is another favorite activity and Bend is near the famous Pacific Crest Trial, which runs from the Mexico border to the Canada border.

When hiking, be safe

No matter where you go, take along the proper gear, items to ensure you return safely. Carry a map and compass and know how to use them. Pack plenty of water and snacks for quick energy. In the mountains, take rain wear and extra clothing to layer with should temperatures drop.

Most importantly, tell someone where you’re going, and when you expect to return. If you don’t return in time, instruct that person to contact Deschutes County Search and Rescue.
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