Last week we were getting really tired of the gloomy end of winter in Central Oregon and decided to head outside for some exercise even in the gloom. We didn’t know what to expect when we decided to do the Deschutes River Trail, Bend OR at the southern end. We thought that it would be along the river in the city and decided to do it just to see what it was like. Much to our surprise, we found that most of it was on a dirt path through the forest, with lots of ups and downs and beautiful views of the river. This was more like forest and river hiking, not city hiking!
We entered the trail at the Old Mill District and parked near the movie theater, then headed west to the river and south toward Farewell Bend Park. This part of the hike was on an asphalt path or brick path and followed the river past condos and beaches. On this cool end-of -the-winter day, there was still ice on the river.
Farewell Bend Park has a very nice picnic pavilion with plenty of space for a large party or several families to have individual picnics.
There are also nice beaches for summer swimming.
The river trail continued past Farewell Bend Park and at the footbridge, it turned into a dirt path through the forest. For the next one and 1/2 miles, the Deschutes River Trail wound through the forest, up and down hills and had lovely views of the river.
At the southern end of the trail, we crossed another bridge over to the west side of the river and continued our hike back toward the beginning.
The trail on this side of the river is on the private property of Mount Bachelor Village. The village has granted permission for hikers, but there are no bicycles allowed on this part of the trail. Dogs are permitted on leash on the whole trail.
The west side of the river has signs every few hundred feet giving information about the flora and fauna along the trail and about the history of the area.
Some of the trees along the trail are pretty big. This set of trees originated from two seedlings that grew together.
According to the sign next to this tree, this damage was caused by a beaver, but not the kind that builds dams. This beaver lives in dens along the river edge. They cut down the trees to get to the nutritious inner bark.
This blue heron was on this rock during our hike down the east side and was still there an hour later on our return hike on the west side of the river. He is a study in patience.
North of Riverbend Park there is a foot bridge that returns you to the Old Mill District. To the north of that you can see the Les Schwab Amphitheater in the distance.
The hike that we did was a total of 4.58 miles, but it can be lengthened or shortened depending on your preferences. This is a great outing if you are visiting Bend and need a day outside without having to drive a distance to get to a trail. The Deschutes River Trail, south end offers forest like hiking right in town.
How to get there
This is an overview map of the numerous opportunities along the Deschutes River Trail and Bend, Oregon.
Map courtesy of Bend Park and Recreation District