Deschutes River Trail
The best thing about Bend’s boom years was the development of the Deschutes River Trail (download a map at www.bendparksandrec.org). The trail, which will ultimately run 19 miles from Tumalo State Park north of town to the Meadow Picnic Area near Widgi Creek Golf Course, offers excellent river access to walkers, runners, and cyclists.
Pick up the trail downtown in Drake Park or in the Old Mill District, from Farewell Bend Park on the east side of the river (on Reed Market Rd.), or from the Les Schwab Amphitheater on the west side. The trail is a bit of a patchwork of paved and unpaved surfaces, so for a ride of any length it’s good to have a mountain bike.
If you want to keep going when you reach the trail’s southern terminus, hop up onto Century Drive and head past the golf course and the Seventh Mountain Resort to the turnoff for Dillon Falls. This road will quickly reconnect you with riverside hiking and mountain biking trails that go all the way to Benham Falls.
The less-urban outlying section of the trail runs 9.1 miles through riverside pine forests and lava flows. It is actually a set of three parallel trails—one each dedicated to hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders—beginning about 7 miles southwest of Bend.
To get here, follow Century Drive southwest, then turn south onto Forest Road 41 (Conklin Rd.), which has several access points to the trails at Lava Island, Big Eddy, Aspen, Dillon, Slough, Benham West, and Benham Falls day-use areas. Traffic on the section closest to Bend can be heavy on weekends.
The season is spring–fall, although most of the trails may remain open in winter during years with low snowfall. A Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking, and dogs must be leashed. Four trail sections—at Big Eddy Rapids, Dillon Falls, Benham Falls West, and Benham Falls Picnic Area—are wheelchair accessible. They’re surfaced with crushed gravel and are of intermediate difficulty.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel