The mid-size town of Bend in the Central high desert of Oregon is a gem. Most folks in Oregon will agree, that getting to spend time in Bend, let alone live there, is to be treasured. Despite population growth pushing the town to the brink, it is still a special place and always will be. Why can I be so sure? It is in middle of a swath of National Forest: Deshchutes, Ochoco & Umpqua. These trees, and their ecosystem, are what brought me to this “island” in the middle of the desert years ago and they are what keep our family coming back. I could go on and on about Bend and the playground that is has grown to be; both natural and cosmetic. But, in this post I will focus on a simple and sweet pleasure that nearly everyone can enjoy when they visit; the Deschutes River Trail Loop starting from Farewell Bend Park. The Bend Parks and Recreation refer to it at the South Canyon Reach. The entire trail system is pretty comprehensive for what is considered a city trail. To read about the whole system check out the link here.
Start out at Farewell Bend Park (which has a cool play structure, that I imagine June will be into down the road). There is usually free parking along the Reed Market Road parallel lots. Use the restroom near the picnic shelter and fill up on water. Continue on up the East side of the Deschutes river and under the bridge. The trail is clearly marked with posts and signs. Right away you get soothing views of the river on the right as you meander along past a few houses on the left.
Make no mistake about it, this is Bend’s version of a “city trail”. The path is not exactly crowded, but you will pass and be passed by many different trail users.
Tourists strolling about looking at the scenery, mixed with locals walking their pups and exercising. This trail gets used! And why not, it truly delivers some beautiful sights and sounds with minimal effort.
Bend Parks and Recreation have posted signs throughout the trail, mainly on the West side, creating a nice introduction to the high desert landscape and the Deschutes River ecology.
A perfect place to stop and nurse June. I love exposing all her senses to nature! And even at the tender age of 5 months, it is clear that she appreciates all that nature has to offer.
Gazing out her sun roof at the Ponderosa Pine trees.
Horsetail growing along the river. Interesting fact about this ancient plant. Pioneer settlers used it to scrub cast iron pots and pans, leaving a residue of silica on the plant. The inspiration for non-stick technology.
Bend, Oregon is the home to Olympic Athlete, Ashton Eaton. It’s a landing pad for many elite athletes, who enjoy the area for its great year round training atmosphere and epic beauty. While walking along the trail you can be passed by your neighbor trying to lose a few winter pounds or by some World class specimen preparing for their next event. Kinda fun!
While walking along the trail you can be passed by your neighbor trying to lose a few winter pounds or by some World class specimen preparing for their next event.
The footbridge will bring you across to the West side of the trail. This side has a much wider, stroller friendly path. The East side was fine with the stroller, but I did have the couple walking their dogs pick up the stroller to get over one out cropping of rocks. There is also an uphill section (which I like for the burn) that required some delicate maneuvering around bigger rocks, If you are not in to that sort of nature walk and/or don’t have a GT stroller, just stick to the West side, which can be easily accessed by walking across the first bridge instead of under it at Farewell Bend Park. Stay on the South sidewalk and take a left at the end of the Reed Market Road bridge, This will lead you through a metal fence and onto the West side trail. Simply take this to the foot bridge and back for a nice jaunt full of aquatic beauty. Of course, you can wear the child and go wherever you please!
I thought this was a cool, new project for creating fish habitat. They have been adding logs to several rivers in the area. The more trout the better!
A friendly town, is bound to have a friendly trail. If you are ever longing for the days when you greeted your neighbor or whomever was passing, I recommend a walk on this trail. This is a great place to teach kids how to be a friendly community member without having to be in everybody’s business. Just a passing “good morning” with a sweet smile. I love that part of life!
I always wondered about that.
This is so Bend! More dogs that people!
As you approach the end of the trail system, you will be confronted with the river less wild. Many different users share the stretch of river from the Reed Market Road bridge to what is called The Old Mill District, named for the timber mill that used to operate near the river and whose building now houses the local REI. The Old Mill is a retail & recreation playground. A few years back, after locals kept pouring into the river on every conceivable flotation device, the city created a formal park grounds as a launch pad for water play. In the summer time, on a hot day. the river is like a parade of plastic, as people float through the Old Mill, past the river side homes and exit downtown in Mirror Pond. It creates this odd kind of “beach” culture without an ocean. People in the middle of town wearing bikinis and board shorts looking all SoCal.