Where to hike around Bend, Oregon
When it comes to hiking, Bend has it all, from sweeping desert vistas, to breath-taking canyons and rushing streams to clear, high mountain lakes. Or, if a quick trip seems more appropriate, check out one of the many urban routes.
To make the most of your Bend hiking experience, decide what you want to see and what kind of experience you’re interested in.
World class hiking starts in the middle of town. The clear, scenic Deschutes River cuts through the center of Bend, and various rock formations, cliffs, rapids and pools make the river a must-see.
Luckily, there is a well-maintained hiking and trail along the banks for most of the way. The Bend Park & Recreation District is currently working on a 19-mile, fully-connected river trail between Tumalo State Park and Meadow Camp. The present 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. You decide how strenuous this will be, and how hard you want to work!
High Desert Trails
Experience some the Oregon High Desert’s most stunning landscapes in the Badlands, just 16 miles east of town on Highway 20. At 29,000 acres, the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, according to the website “… represents an outstanding example of ancient western juniper woodlands atop Columbia River Basalts.”
Almost 50 miles of trails offers hikers or horseback riders loops of various lengths, and access from parking lots is easy. The elevation changes are about 50 feet, so the hiking is not difficult. However, the loose, sandy soil can be challenging. The best times to visit desert areas are in the spring and fall. Don’t go during the summer unless you want to experience heat extremes! There is no water in the Badlands, so take plenty along.
Majestic rock formations at Smith Rock
Smith Rock State Park, about 20 miles from Bend, is a nationally-known rock climbing destination.
But in addition to spectacular basalt cliffs and souring canyon vistas, the 651-acre park has trails suitable for the whole family, including includes a 30-minute hike along the Crooked River. The trails wind up 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 mood strikes.
Cascade Lakes Trails
In the summer, experience the spectacular beauty of pristine alpine lakes. Bend is within easy striking distance of a number of beautiful lakes, 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 is gone, the trail is heavily used.
Bend is also near the fabled Pacific Crest Trial, which goes from the Mexican to Canadian borders.
No matter where you go, take along the right items to make sure you return safely. Take along a map and compass, and know how to use them. Pack plenty of water and snacks for quick energy. In the mountains, take raingear and extra clothing to layer up with when the temperatures drop.
Most importantly, tell someone where you’re going, and when you expect to be back. If you don’t arrive back in time, instruct that person to contact Deschutes County Search and Rescue.
Get the best deal at our Bend hotel! Look through our hot deal dates and save up 20-30% off summer rates on special days. Details and restrictions here.
Enjoy your stay here in Bend, and hit the trail for high adventure!