I have many favorite running trails in Bend, but the following are my usual go-to’s. First of all, they are easily accessible, and the views are stunning! Perfect for a relaxing walk with family and friends, or getting some miles in on your trail run. Three of the trails have river views, and one, Pilot Butte, has a stunning 360 view of the Cascade Mountains. The best part? That fresh mountain air, I love the smell of pine trees!
Deschutes River Loop
Close to the Mill, this trail winds around both sides of the river. Deschutes River Loop has many starting areas, but I always start at the Farewell Bend Park parking lot for a 3-mile run/walk. Start by walking past the play structure and follow the dirt path that winds its way along the bank. After crossing the boardwalk, the trail gains elevation to reach the hikes’ best views. Descending into a dry forest, you reach the half-way mark. You can turn around or cross the bridge to continue. Eventually, you’ll pass a big park on the left called Riverbend, which is a great place to put in your raft or paddleboard. Watch out; after Riverbend, there is a dog park where you will see lots of dogs jumping into the Deschutes River after their sticks. Go through the tunnel, veer right, and you will see a second tunnel. Here you can turn back to the parking lot or take a left and head to the Mill for coffee, shopping, or lunch.
Pilot Butte is like a beacon in our town. If you get lost, look for this cinder cone butte, and you will know instantly where you are. You can drive to the top when the road is open, a perfect spot to watch the sunset after dinner. From the parking lot, take the short but steep (490 feet in elevation) hike up to the top…it’s about a mile. The views are stunning, and scruffy looking junipers line the trail. At the top, you have 360-degree views of the Cascade Mountains, including the Sisters, Broken Top, and on a clear day, you can see Smith Rock. If you want to get a longer walk in, when you reach the bottom of the trail, continue along the sidewalk past the park.
Riley Ranch Nature Preserve
Riley Ranch Nature Preserve is currently my #1 favorite spot to go for walks with friends or to get my trail run on. Set in a nature preserve (so no bikes or dogs,) the upper half is wide open before descending rock steps to the lower part of the forest. I always veer right towards the old, dilapidated remains of hunting cabins. This trail will take you to Tumalo Falls State Park, not to get confused with Tumalo Falls. I just run to the bridge and then turn around. Once back in Riley Preserve territory, keep straight. This part of the trail follows the river with plenty of spots to take a dip. One of these days, I am going to wear my bathing suit and cool off in the river at the end of my run. Here you have the option to take a left and shorten your journey, but I always keep straight to loop back around to the rock stairs. At the top, take a right, and there will be a great lookout spot.
Robert Sawyer Park to Archie Briggs Canyon Trail
This is a run I love to do at the end of the day, just a few hours before the sun starts setting. The golden light sets behind the trees, giving a glow to the flowers and the hills beyond.
At Robert Sawyer Park, cross the bridge and on the left is an open grass field where people often play ultimate frisbee. Take a right, and you can hang out by the river. For running and hiking, head straight up the gravel road and take a right. As you ascend, you will see some dreamy houses on the right and the river below. When you come to the road, cross the street and keep going. You will eventually cross another road and see a green gate, go around it. This trail will connect you to Archie Briggs Canyon trail, where the canyon falls below on the right. Keep your eyes out. Sometimes you will see brave kayakers paddling the rapids. It’s a gorgeous view of the winding river far below in the canyon. Walk or run to the top of the hill (your thighs will love you!) The view opens up far and wide. Continue running between the rows of pine trees and Gray Rabbitbrush until you reach a green gate (which also leads you to Washington St. and a golf course.) This is where I turn around. If you are walking, you probably want to turn around once you go up the steep hill.
What are your favorite trails in Bend? Please leave a comment below, we would love to hear from you.