photo ©Tyson Gillard
The Bend area in central Oregon is a trail-runner’s dream destination, with numerous superb options in town or within a short driving distance. If you’re in Bend for just a day, with a couple of hours to kill, your best option is the Deschutes River Trail.
An option for families or for a short run is to begin at Farewell Bend Park, southwest of the city center. A flat, three-mile loop starts here, following the river south and crossing it twice on small footbridges.
For longer runs, drive southwest of Bend on the Cascade Lakes Highway for approximately six miles, turning left on a dirt road (FS 100). Follow this road about one mile down towards the river to its end and park. (You are here.)
The trail starts at the southwest corner of the parking area and proceeds uphill, leveling out after about 100 yards. It rolls along, rising and falling near the river for most of its course, ending 8.5 miles later at Sunriver.
The scenery is pine forest, lava flows, and the river. You’ll pass several waterfalls along the way.
In low-snow years the Deschutes River Trail can be run year-round. Hikers and bikers share some sections of trail, so be aware. Dogs must be leashed during summer.