The high desert is wonderland for hikers. Best of all, the area features hikes for all preferences and fitness levels. From river trails to overnight mountain climbs, there’s no shortage of local hikes to satisfy the wants and needs of every outdoor enthusiast. We at Bend Personal Trainers want to help you decide on which local hikes you should try out next. We’ve split the ten best local hikes into three categories: light, moderate, and challenging. Each category represents local hikes of varying difficulty levels. Keep this in mind as you browse our list to make sure you find the hike that best suits you and your companions. This list is not exhaustive. To find out about fantastic local hikes not listed here, visit the local hiking guide at visitbend.com.
Todd Lake Trail (light)
Todd Lake is a picturesque body of water nestled deep within the Cascade Mountain Range. Located slightly past Mount Bachelor along the Cascade Lakes Highway, Todd Lake features a pleasant trailhead that contours the lake. This trail is great for people just starting out on the trails, who have small children, and who are looking to take in the beauty of nature along the way.
Pilot Butte Trail (light)
Pilot Butte is located in the heart of Bend. It’s trail takes you up the steep slopes on the cinder cone. At the summit, you have a full view of the Central Oregon region. It’s also a great place to go stargazing. The hike itself is short, and it doubles up as a popular place for people to exercise. If you are looking to stay very close to home and to start off with a light local hike, try Pilot Butte.
Mt. Bachelor Trail (light)
When most people think of Mt. Bachelor in the summer, they think of taking the chairlifts to the summit for a picturesque 360 degree view of Central Oregon. What many people do not realize is that there is a trail that you can hike from the base to the summit chair. It’s a light hike that zigzags up the side of the mountain through the forested base to the tree-line. As a reward for your efforts, you can take the summit chair to also enjoy the short hike at the top so that you may enjoy the views from the top of the mountain.
Benham Falls (light)
Benham Falls is a local favorite due to the majesty of the waterfalls it follows. The trailhead begins about five miles north of Sunriver, and takes you through pristine wilderness down to the river. There you will find the sound of rushing water. There are many great places to take pictures, although it is not advised to perch on the rocks that overlook the river. The Benham Falls trail connects to the Deschutes River Trail, an extensive trail system that runs all the way along the Deschutes River from Bend to Sunriver.
Black Butte Trail (moderate)
Black Butte is a major landmark. Located slightly past sisters along highway 20, the Black Butte Trail is one of the most enjoyable hikes in our area. Longer than the previously mentioned local hikes, Black Butte Trail snakes around and leads to a Forest Service station at the top. During the summer, the forest service invites some hikers to tour their fire-viewing station and explain some of the history of the area while they’re at it.
Deschutes River Trail (moderate)
The Deschutes River Trail is a network of trails that follow the Deschutes River from Bend to Sunriver. The trails will even take you along Lava Lands. This is a popular route for mountain bikers, but it’s also a great place to hike. Simply pick where you would like to hike and you can set out on foot from one of the many established trailheads.
Smith Rock (moderate)
Smith Rock may be known for rock-climbing, but it also features a few trails that hikers can enjoy. The river trail takes hikers along the water and connects downstream to the Mesa Verde trail. The Mesa Verde trail snakes along the back of Smith Rock and connects to the Misery Ridge Trail. Misery Ridge trail will either take you back to the parking lot or connect you to the Wolf Ridge trail that continues along the Crooked River.
Fall Creek Trail (challenging)
The Fall Creek Trail is an all day hike that will take you into the heard of the Cascade Mountains. It ends at the base of Broken Top Mountain, and passes several pleasant bodies of water along the way. This hike is a challenge because of its length, and is the perfect getaway for experienced hikers looking to get lost in nature.
Pacific Crest Trail (challenging)
Another long trail, the Pacific Crest Trail is one of the better known hiking trails in Central Oregon. It takes hikers from the Cascade Lakes Highway through dense National Forests, up to the summit of two cinder cones with great views, and back to the Cascade Lakes Highway via Elk Lake. The trail continues on for the more hardcore hikers out there and spans all the way down to Charleton Lake, not far from Highway 58 on the way to Oakridge!
South Sister (challenging)
South Sister is one of the most famous hikes in Central Oregon. What makes it fun for many people is that it is often done as an overnight hike. The trail takes hikers through gorgeous, dense forests rife with wildlife. At the summit, hikers are greeted by a glacial lake, called Teardrop Lake, where some have been known to take a brief swim. Burr!