Hikes in Bend

Region in Oregon, United States

Known as the ‘adventure playground of the West’, Bend, Oregon is one of the best destinations in the United States when it comes to outdoor adventures. Hiking in Bend is pure bliss, with picture-perfect trails that snake through fragrant forests, gurgling creeks and whitewater rapids, volcanic rocks and towering craters, as well as mountain views to die for. Put this epic hiking destination on your bucket list today!

The city of Bend takes its name from the bend in the Deschutes River, and it might be suggested that water is the defining feature of this lush landscape. The rushing rivers and creeks create some dramatic rapids and waterfalls, and many of our favorite hikes trace their passage through the hills and forests. However, Bend may be characterized by water, but its history has been shaped by fire. The relatively young hills around Bend were created by volcanic activity, a massive eruption that created a distinctive brown stone, still used to build houses in Bend today. Hiking these volcanic areas is a pure delight!

The mountains and forests around Bend sustain a wide variety of wildlife, and hiking in Bend is a great opportunity to do some bird watching and wildlife spotting. Keep your eyes open and you may catch a glimpse of black bears, red foxes, cougars, bobcats, several varieties of deer, bighorn sheep and majestic elk. You may also see tiny hummingbirds and beautiful butterflies, and even a pair of golden eagles, as you’re out on the trail.

Bend is the perfect destination for a family vacation, and the town itself offers some excellent restaurants, pubs and bars for a little relaxation after a hard day on the trail. This is also a great place for fans of real ale, with plenty of trendy local breweries and fun watering holes. What are you waiting for? Start planning your next hiking adventure in Bend!

Top Hikes in Bend, Colorado

Bend is a fantastic place for all adventurers, whatever your age or hiking ability. You’ll find challenging day hikes that will test your strength and stamina, fun riverside walks that will keep you busy for hours, and easy trails in fabulous scenery. Kids will love the many waterfalls to be found on the Deschutes River, not to mention the thrilling rapids that characterize the watercourses in this part of Oregon. The atmospheric forests are perfect for a little low-key exploration, and young hikers are sure to enjoy the manifold possibilities for wildlife watching. If you’re looking for something a little more strenuous, don’t worry. The peaks, ridges and craters that make up the dramatic scenery around Bend offer plenty of challenges for fit hikers, and you’ll find several hikes to test your stamina and abilities. This is a region for avid fans of the Great Outdoors.

Easy Hikes In Bend

West Metolius River Hike: Although this route is a fairly long drive from Bend, we think it’s definitely worth making the journey! The stunning Metolius River boasts clear, white-flecked water, and is surrounded by lush, green vegetation – a picture-perfect hike in some of Oregon’s loveliest scenery. There’s also plenty to see along the way, from the beautiful cascade at Gushing Springs to the Wizard Fall Fish Hatchery, making this one of the most popular easy hikes in Bend.

Family Hikes In Bend

Benham Falls Hike: This wonderful family-friendly hike is one of our favorites, and is a lovely outing for the whole family. The trail passes along the Deschutes River near Bend, with thrilling views of the rushing whitewater. Kids are sure to love watching the rapids, not to mention the gorgeous sight of the falls as they tumble down the rocky gorge into the river. The Benham Falls hike is without doubt one of the best family hikes in Bend.

Day Hikes In Bend

Smith Rock’s Summit Trail Loop Hike: Smith Rock State Park is one of Oregon’s finest gems, and a stroll around this gorgeous landscape is a must for any keen hiker! We think this loop trail is one of the best day hikes in Bend, as it’s a moderate route where you can take your time and enjoy the scenery. The hike to the summit is a challenge on hot days as the trail is quite exposed, but you’ll have a stunning view from the top over Mount Jefferson and Three Sisters.

Challenging Hikes In Bend

Green Lakes Hike: If you’re looking for one of the most popular challenging hikes in Bend, look no further than this beautiful hike to Green Lakes. The trail passes alongside Fall Creek, and a series of picturesque waterfalls, all the way to Green Lakes. The three stunning lakes provide a mirror for the peaks of South Sister and Broken Top, with magnificent views over the mountains. This is definitely one of our favorite challenging hikes in Bend, and can easily be transformed into a low-key backpacking trip.

Other Great Hikes In Bend

Whychus Creek Trail Hike: Looking for a moderate, family-friendly hike away from the beaten track? The Whychus Creek Trail is one of the lesser-known hiking routes in Bend, but it’s the perfect place for a hike in Oregon’s lush scenery. The trail skirts the edge of the creek, weaving in and out of fragrant pine forests. If it gets too hot, you can always take a dip and cool off in the refreshing waters of the creek!

Smith Rock’s Misery Ridge Loop Hike: Don’t let the name fool you – this hike up Misery Ridge in Smith Rock State Park is one of the best hikes in Bend! It’s a stiff climb to the top, but the imposing ridgeline and gorgeous views make it all worthwhile. This loop trail continues past some of the most popular climbing spots in the park before descending down to the lush riverside path.

Tumalo Falls Hike: Bend is known for its rushing creeks and tumbling waterfalls, and the dramatic cascade at Tumalo Falls is one of the finest in the region. The raging Tumalo Creek is simply stunning, and this trail will take you to viewpoints for several waterfalls along its course. The main attraction is the 30-meter cascade near the beginning of the hike, but the subsequent path through the forest is equally rewarding.

Paulina Peak Hike: This gorgeous hike will take you high up a series of switchbacks to the summit of Paulina Peak, the highest point of the Newberry Volcano. The climb is somewhat steep, so you’ll need plenty of energy, but it’s a manageable hike for most people. You’ll enjoy remarkable views over Jefferson Peak, Broken Top, Three Sisters and Mount Hood, but beware if you’re hiking early in the season as snow tends to linger on the summit until early July.

Black Butte Hike: The hike to the summit of Black Butte is a classic Bend trail, and one of our favorites in the region. The trail ascends through the forest before emerging to spectacular views of Three Sisters and Broken Top. As you climb the gentle switchbacks the views just keep getting better and better. You’ll pass by the old fire lookout, occupied by Forest Service employees, and you’ll find plenty of interesting information about the history of the lookouts and the mountains.

Belknap Crater Hike: This wonderful hike passes along a section of the Pacific Coast Trail, offering some of the most spectacular views of the Three Sisters and Mount Washington that you’ll find in Bend. The route ascends through a lovely pine forest and black lava fields, before hitting the scree slope that makes up the side of the Belknap Crater. Often filled with snow, the crater itself is a remarkable sight, topped only by the amazing views of Mount Washington in the background. This is one of the best hikes in Bend – if you only have time for one hike here, make it this one!

When Is The Best Time To Hike In Bend?

Hiking in Bend is a year-round activity, and you’ll find a trail here to suit every season! That said, many of the higher-elevation trails are inaccessible in winter due to heavy snowfall on higher ground, so you’ll need to plan your trip carefully before you go. The summer months offer the best weather but the hiking trails can be extremely crowded and accommodation prices soar. Although spring is cooler, quieter and cheaper, snow tends to linger on higher-elevation trails, so we think that the best time to hike in Bend is autumn. In September and October you can expect perfect weather conditions for hiking (mild temperatures and sunny weather), quiet trails and low prices. What’s more, you’ll be able to enjoy a plethora of local festivals, including art and musical events, and harvest festivals that showcase the delicious local produce.

Other Outdoor Activities In Bend

We love hiking in central Oregon, but there are plenty of other outdoor activities in Bend! You’ll find lots of opportunities for backpacking and camping, and this region is a wonderful spot to introduce kids to the joys of camping out in the wild. Bend is best known as a fantastic destination for mountain biking, and you’ll find over 400km of well-maintained mountain biking trails across the region. In addition, this region offers wonderful opportunities for rock climbing, trail running, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, tubing, and whitewater rafting. In winter, you can also try your hand at snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding.

How To Plan A Trip To Bend

Bend is one of the finest regions for outdoor adventures, and we think it should be on every hiker’s bucket list! If you’ve got your sights set on a hiking escape to Central Oregon, don’t miss our guide to planning a trip to Bend, where you’ll find plenty of information to help you get your holiday off to a flying start. We’ve put together insider tips on where to stay, where to eat, and of course, where to hike! It’s time to grab those hiking boots and hit the trail.

Frequently-Asked-Questions About Bend

How long does it take to get to Bend from Portland?
Bend is approximately 175 miles from Portland, and it’s possible to drive there in around 3 hours and 15 minutes. If you’d prefer to take public transport, there is a direct bus that takes around 4 hours and 40 minutes and costs between $45 and $75.

How did Bend get its name?
The name ‘Bend’ is taken from the bend in the Deschutes River, and was given to the settlement established by early pioneers who came to the region in the 1820s.

Do I need a permit to go hiking in Bend?
If you want to visit one of the Oregon state parks (such as Smith Rock State Park or Tumalo State Park), you will need to purchase an Oregon State Parks Pass. Some other hiking routes and regions require a Northwest Forest Pass (further details available here).

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Best Hikes in Bend

Open details for Belknap Crater

Belknap Crater

Moderate
10.8 km
539 m
3.5-5h

This stunning hike near Bend starts from the scenic McKenzie Pass Highway, the trek along the Pacific Crest Trail to Belknap Crater features breathtaking views of the Three Sisters and Mt. Washington.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.7
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for West Metolius River

West Metolius River

Easy
8.7 km
78 m
2-2.5h

It’s a postcard-perfect river walk: simple as that. The Metolius River is unbelievably beautiful and the easy hike along its flank is worth the relatively long drive from Bend. The water is clear and flecked with stunning whitewater rapids. This truly is a trek worth taking.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.6
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Smith Rock’s Summit Trail Loop

Smith Rock’s Summit Trail Loop

Moderate
12.6 km
375 m
3.5-4.5h

Hiking around the stunning Smith Rock State Park is popular for a reason! This wonderful trek near Bend circumnavigates the entire park and provides awesome views of towering cliffs and the beautiful Crooked River while avoiding crowds. 

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.5
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Green Lakes

Green Lakes

Hard
16.1 km
416 m
4-5.5h

Arguably the most popular hike near Bend, the Green Lakes Trail walks you up Fall Creek to the namesake lakes and offers stunning views of both South Sister and Broken Top.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Black Butte

Black Butte

Moderate
6.4 km
454 m
2.5-3.5h

The trek up to Black Butte is a classic hike near Bend. The views from the top are nothing short of spectacular, well worth the walk.  On a clear day you can see all the way to Mt. Hood.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.5
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Paulina Peak

Paulina Peak

Moderate
10.3 km
635 m
3.5-5h

The gradual hike to the gorgeous Paulina Peak is a top trek near Bend. The views from the top of this hike are stunning, and, as you walk to those views, you’re surrounded by beautiful Rocky Mountain flora.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.8
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Benham Falls

Benham Falls

Very Easy
3.4 km
27 m
0.5-1h

The famous Benham Falls are a gorgeous sight. This family friendly walk along the Deschutes River near Bend is a gem of a hike.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.8
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Tumalo Falls Hike

Tumalo Falls Hike

Easy
6.4 km
165 m
1.5-2h

The Tumalo Falls in Oregon is an amazing 97-foot waterfall near Bend, which is a great sight for nature lovers and families with kids. The Tumalo Falls hike walks you past the huge waterfall and follows the stunning Tumalo Creek. This raging river is gorgeous, and this trek will leave you with a new appreciation of its power.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.7
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Smith Rock’s Misery Ridge Loop

Smith Rock’s Misery Ridge Loop

Easy
8.9 km
304 m
2.5-3.5h

The most popular hike in Smith Rock State Park, the Misery Ridge Trail takes hikers and sightseers to one of the highest points in the park with incredible views. It’s easy to see why this walk is so popular.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Whychus Creek Trail

Whychus Creek Trail

Moderate
9.8 km
204 m
2.5-3h

This hike is perfect for escaping the crowds at many of the popular walks closer to Bend.  A moderate trail perfect for the whole family.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.7
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.

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Open details for Planning your trip to Bend, Oregon

Planning your trip to Bend, Oregon

By Richard Campbell
October 14th, 2017
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