Hiking and Biking
The area in and around Bend boasts a rich network of hiking and mountain biking trails, ranging from short barrier-free interpretive walks in town to strenuous wilderness treks. The best hiking is on trails accessed by the Cascade Lakes Highway. Snow can lock up many of these high-elevation trails until as late as June or July, so you’ll want to inquire locally before heading out fall–spring.
The offices of the Deschutes National Forest (1230 NE 3rd St., 541/383-4000, www.fs.fed.us/r6/centraloregon) can be worth a visit. Note that parking at most trailheads in the national forests requires a Northwest Forest Pass, available at most outdoor stores and resorts.
For mountain bikers, the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (www.cotamtb.org) is a good resource. This volunteer group works with the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and other land managers to enhance mountain biking in and around Bend. Their website describes area trails and shows current conditions.
About five miles west of town, Shevlin Park lures both hikers and mountain bikers with an easy five-mile loop through the pines along the Tumalo Creek gorge and along a ridge burned in the Awbrey Hall fire of August 1990. It’s open year-round with no fees for parking or access. Several picnic areas offer quiet spots for lunch. To get there, follow Greenwood Avenue west from U.S. 97 in Bend; Greenwood becomes Newport Avenue after a few blocks, then changes again to Shevlin Road as it angles northwest.
Another trail close to town that’s very popular with mountain bikers is Phil’s Trail, an eight-mile segment of a larger network of eponymous bike trails (Kent’s, Paul’s, Jimmy’s, etc.—named for the riders who established or popularized them) among the canyon and butte country just west of Bend. Difficulty is generally easy to moderate, with some steep climbs to challenge your lower gears the farther west you ride. To get to the trailhead, head 2.5 miles west on Skyliners Road, then turn left on the first paved road to the south and travel 0.5 miles. A little farther west, Roads 4610 and 300 also intersect the network. A Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking.
Mount Bachelor Summit Trail
Farther afield, Mount Bachelor beckons hikers in the summer and fall to walk the four-mile Mount Bachelor Summit Trail to the mountain’s top. This is one of the easiest and safest routes to the top of any Cascade peak, requiring no climbing skills or equipment. An even easier way to reach the top is via the chairlift at the ski area, which runs during the off-season.
To get to the trailhead, follow signs for the upper (east) parking lot at the ski area. The trail begins at the western end of the lot and climbs to a forested ridge on the mountain’s northeastern side to the upper station of the first section of the ski lift. From there, the trail climbs steeply through the timberline area and continues up to a talus ridge leading to the mountain station of the second lift segment. It’s a short hike from this lift station to the summit.
Plaques stationed at viewpoints along the way identify lakes and mountains visible from this 9,000-foot vantage point, including Diamond Peak to the south and the Three Sisters, Broken Top, Mount Jefferson, and sometimes even Mount Hood, 100 miles away, to the north. The hike involves an elevation gain of 2,600 feet; average hikers should allow 2–3 hours one-way. Mountain bikes are not recommended on the trail.
Rent a mountain bike at Pine Mountain Sports (255 SW Century Dr., 541/385-8080, $20 for 4 hours, $25 for 24 hours). Upstairs from Pine Mountain are the offices for Cog Wild (255 SW Century Dr., 866/610-4822, www.cogwild.com), which leads mountain bike tours that include short family cruises ($40), vigorous daylong tours (about $90), and multiday trips ($575 and up).
If your bicycling style is a little more easygoing, rent a cruiser (or a tandem, kid’s bike, trailer, or tag-along) from Wheel Fun Rentals (603 SW Mill A Dr., 541/408-4568, 10 a.m.–sunset daily, $5–20 per hour) near the Deschutes River Trail in the Old Mill District; they also have a downtown location at the Phoenix Inn Suites (300 NW Franklin Ave., 541/317-9292).
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel