• Jake Buehner

Spring Hiking in Bend

There is certainly no shortage of outdoor recreation in Bend! With Spring quickly approaching, I am looking forward to getting back on the trail. Of course you have Pilot Butte, Smith Rock, and the Deschutes River Trail… As a born and raised local, I’m going to give you the inside scoop on some of my favorite Spring hikes in Central Oregon.

My first (and favorite) local hike is Tumalo Mountain.

I should have started with a softball - but this hike is worth the workout to the top! It is less than 2 miles each way, however, it can be a steep incline especially toward the top. The trail is heavily trafficked so it is accessible almost any season. In the Winter, heavy snowfall will require you to bring snow-shoes. In the Spring, the snow-covered trail is packed down by hikers and some hiking/snow boots will get you to the summit just fine.

The view from the top is spectacular! 180 degree views of the Cascade Mountain Range and eastern views of the High Desert. I like to plan this hike so that we summit before sunrise or sunset. It takes nearly an hour on the way up and about half that on the way down. I try to do this hike once per season! (And it makes for a great photo backdrop). Last Summer, I recommended this spot to a client who was looking for a beautiful hike to propose to his wife. It was a lot of pressure to help him make such a significant decision - but the location did not disappoint! (She said yes).

Here are the stats:

Difficulty: 8/10

Distance: 3.8 miles

From Bend: 30 min drive

A bit further from town is the family-friendly Sahalie & Koosah Falls Trail.

This is a beautiful hike along the McKenzie River in the Cascade Mountains. The relatively flat trail is perfect for hikers of all ages who are looking to soak up some idyllic Oregon scenery. Because of its location on the mountain pass towards Eugene, the vegetation is drastically different from Bend. Enjoy views of moss-covered trees, aqua blue water, and thunderous waterfalls along this short and easy hiking trail. You’re going to spend some extra time in the car to get there - but the fresh mountain air and McKenzie River views are well worth the drive.

In the Spring, access to this hike varies depending on the year. However, Sahalie Falls is always accessible even if the parking lot is still full of snow. I have parked along the highway to check out Sahalie Falls - which is just adjacent to the main parking area.

Difficulty: 2/10

Distance: 2.6 miles

From Bend: 1.5 hour drive

Chush Falls

Come prepared for this hike along Wychess Creek outside of Sisters. I highly recommend this hike, however, due to its high elevation and proximity to the Cascades, it is a good idea to wait for late Spring. May is the sweet spot for this hike. This is when the wildflowers begin to pop up along the trail. By then, the snow has melted and gives you easy access to the moderate, 5.8 mile out and back trail. On your drive up to the trailhead, you will experience a magnified view of the Three Sisters. The forest service roads in this area are great for exploring with a high clearance vehicle. The length of the hike is longer than most, but the difficulty is moderate. Besides the two hills that you will conquer, the rest of the hike is relatively flat.

Difficulty: 4/10

Distance: 5.8 miles

From Bend: 1 hour drive

Steelhead Falls

Another year-round favorite is Steelhead Falls just north of Bend. Steelhead Falls is near Terrebonne so this hike can be easily paired with a Smith Rock day-trip. The two-mile out and back trail offers canyon and river views for the entirety of the hike. You will hear the falls from a distance while you hike the trail. This is a spot we grew up frequenting in the Summer for cliff jumping and swimming. I just went for the first time during the Winter last month and it was very accessible, even in the snow. This area gets less snow and is a bit warmer than Bend. Because of this, the hiking trails are often the first to clear of snow in early Spring. The hike is steep but I would say it is accessible for most!

Difficulty: 4/10

Distance: 2 miles

From Bend: 1 hour drive

I hope you enjoyed these recommendations! It's always a good time to get outside.

See you out there!

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