Hiking & Cycling
Nestled on the east flank of the Cascade Mountains, Bend is literally surrounded on all sides by National Forests and protected recreational lands. The Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests alone have over 1,000 miles of non-motorized trails suitable for all abilities. Iconic hikes like South Sister and the Green Lakes Trail are just a few of the more notable gems of the region. But trails are not confined to the backcountry: for those looking for easy afterwork-jaunts there’s over 50 miles of urban trails inside city limits. Enjoy a mountain bike ride along the scenic canyons and whitewater rapids of the Deschutes, or through Bend’s award-winning park system.
Bend is on the map as a mountain biking destination due to the great press from magazines like Outside, Mountain Bike and Bike. Phil’s Trail, just west of town, includes ten major trails extending into the foothills of the Cascades. Road riders may take off in any direction and are rewarded with spectacular mountain vistas on quiet country roads. National races are a mainstay of Bend’s athletically-oriented culture, and watching a criterium is considered a great night out on the town.
World-famous Smith Rock State Park, north of Redmond, is 651 acres and has over a thousand bolted climbing routes. Enoy a picnic or pitch a tent beneath the 550 foot volcanic ash rock faces, or climb to the top and enjoy views of Crooked River Canyon and the farms in the distance. Other climbing areas include Belknap Crater, peaks in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, Tumalo Falls and the Crooked River Gorges. The popularity of climbing in Central Oregon has encouraged the growth of outfitters, schools, guides and even climbing manufacturers.
Camping & Siteseeing
Whether your pitching a tent or hooking up the Airstream, there are over 100 developed campsites in Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests alone. A dozen Central Oregon State Parks have camping, and wilderness backpacking is permitted throughout much of the National Forest. There are 170 developed day-use sites in Central Oregon with picnic areas, trailheads, and roadside viewpoints. Fourteen resorts operate within the National Forest lands, and some offer rustic accommodations, stores and food service.
Rafting & Floating
Bend is a mecca for whitewater, with opportunities for beginning and expert rapids just a short drive away. With the completion of the new Bend Whitewater Park, opportunities for river surfing and kayaking are at a whole new level. Many commercial trips leave out of Maupin, about 90 miles north, and beginniners should definitely utilize the services of a commercial operator. Several of these outfitters combine rafting with camping, fishing and even lodge accommodations.
The Deschutes has many Class IV and V rapids for experts on the section that flows down through the Cascades, but in town, the river flattens, and casual floaters can rent a tube in the Old Mill District and enjoy a lazy float down to Drake Park.
Boating & Fishing
Both the Deschutes and the Metolius offer world-class fly fishing, and the alpine lakes have great opportunities for fishing enthusiasts. Native and introduced fish include bull trout, Chinook and Atlantic salmon, mountain whitefish, rainbow trout, redband trout, sockeye/kokanee, brook trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout and lake trout. Check with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for regulations.
Central Oregon is a boaters paradise with dozens of lakes that were formed as a result of volcanic topography, as well as reservoirs created for hydroelectric power. While some lakes are off limits to motorized watercraft, the larger bodies of water are popular for power boating and water skiing and include:
Haystack Reservoir, in Jefferson County.
Lake Billy Chinook, in Jefferson County.
Lake Simtustus, in Jefferson County.
Ochoco Reservoir, in Crook County.
Prineville Reservoir, in Crook County.
Suttle Lake, in Jefferson County.
Wickiup Reservoir, in Deschutes County.
Speed limits apply to designated areas within these lakes, and in some cases at specified times.
Golf has become one of Bend’s primary real estate attractions, with world-class courses both private and public. Many private courses are associated with gated communities and upscale resorts, plus a wide selection of municipal, commercial and resort courses are open to the public. Courses range from nine-hole par three courses to championship locales that have hosted the Jeld-Wen Tradition, Ghost Tree Invitational and the Pacific Amateur Golf Classic. One of Bend’s most exciting new additions is Tetherow’s 18-hole championship semi-private course that boats the distinctive layout of David McLay Kidd—the award-winning architect of Bandon Dunes and Castle Course in Scotland.
Many move to Bend for the skiing at Bachelor, and then find themselves falling in love with a variety of other outdoor winter pursuits like Nordic and backcountry skiing. Mt. Bachelor is one of the west coast’s crown jewels of alpine skiing, with an average of 450 inches of snowfall, and 3,683 acres of terrain, 3365 feet of vertical drop and 71 runs ranging from double black diamonds to easy greens for beginners. Snowboarders will dig the tables, step ups and step downs, rails, ride-on boxes and mini-table tops. According to TransWorld Snowboarding magazine readers, Mt. Bachelor is #4 in North America for snowboarding and was mentioned as “a place that suits all ages, levels, and styles of riders and riding.” For those who prefer to explore on skinny skies, you can enjoy dozens of miles of Nordic trails both at the resort and at the many snowparks off the Cascade Lakes Highway and beyond. Or start off gentle, with an interpretive snowshoe adventure with Wanderlust Tours, or a dog-sled ride under snow-laden trees on winding forest paths.
One thing is for certain, while you may move to Bend for the skiing or cycling, you’ll soon find yourself exploring many of the other recreational opportunites that abound. Every season offers a new opportunity to get out and explore the heavenly setting that is literally right out your back door.