Trail Running Bend and Central Oregon: Great Loop Trails for Every Season

Trail Running Bend and Central Oregon: Great Loop Trails for Every Season

by Lucas Alberg


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Trail Running Bend and Central Oregon is an extensive guide to the best trail running in one of the country's top outdoor destinations. Author and trail runner Lucas Alberg provides detailed descriptions of the area's best loop runs, including several new trails added within recent years. From classic high desert runs to the east in the Badlands, to mountain escapes and high alpine scenery to the west in the Cascades, the guide highlights the unique and diverse geography that Central Oregon has to offer.

Unlike other guidebooks, Trail Running Bend and Central Oregon is organized by season, so runners can know when to hit the right trails at the right times throughout the year. The 50 routes described in the book are all located within 65 miles of Bend, which means that trail runners will spend more time doing what they love to do, instead of spending time behind the windshield in anticipation.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780899978239
Publisher: Wilderness Press
Publication date: 05/17/2016
Pages: 242
Sales rank: 1,154,109
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Lucas Alberg is a native Kansan who ventured west after college in pursuit of outdoor adventure in the mountains. A distance runner since his youth, Lucas took to trail running when he moved to Portland, OR, in 2001. After exhausting the trails in the northwest part of the state, he moved to the sunnier side of the Cascade Mountains and Bend in 2011. Since then, he has been eagerly exploring Central Oregon's diverse geography and gobbling up miles on the area's vast network of trails. Outside of running, Lucas enjoys spending time mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, cross-country skiing, and camping with his lovely wife, Rae, and their son, Loren. A longtime musician, Lucas has written and recorded two albums with his band, The Beautiful Train Wrecks, and has found time to play hundreds of shows across the Pacific Northwest. Lucas currently serves as PR Manager for a Bend-based outdoors company.

Read an Excerpt

1 Old Mill Loop


  • DISTANCE 4.3-mile to 5.5-mile loop
  • GPS TRAILHEAD COORDINATES N44° 2.549' W121° 19.244'
  • SEASON Year-round; Bend city parks are open daily, 5 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • ELEVATION Negligible
  • USERS Hikers, runners, mountain bikers (limited access)
  • CONTACT Bend Park and Recreation, 541-389-7275,
  • DOGS Yes (leashed only)

Though this book focuses mainly on running in the wilderness, sometimes it’s nice to have a trail run right outside your front door. The Old Mill Loop on the Deschutes River Trail offers myriad distance options and is a great combination of quintessential Central Oregon trail running and the beauty of what makes Bend one of the premier places in the country to live.

There’s no trailhead per se for this loop—you can start in many places—but one place I like to begin is at Riverbend Park, off SW Columbia Street and Shevlin Hixon Drive. There’s plenty of parking, and this spot tends to be less crowded than some of the others. Plus, the Bend Park and Recreation District is housed in the building adjacent to the park, so I like to think of it as paying homage to all the hard work its employees do to make Bend’s parks and trails wonderful.

From the park, head south along the river on a paved pathway that takes you away from the Old Mill District. As you near the first footbridge over the Deschutes River, stay straight, exiting off the pavement onto a wide dirt path—the famed Deschutes River Trail (DRT). In a short distance, you’ll run under the Bill Healy Memorial Bridge and through a fenced gate before descending back down to the river’s edge.

At this point, the Deschutes River picks up speed, and you’ll see the end of the stand-up paddleboarders and the beginning of the river rapids. It’s also here that you’ll begin to run up and down a few rolling hills to match the increased pitch of the river. Stay left at the next junction to avoid going uphill toward Century Drive, and at 1.6 miles along the DRT you’ll reach the second footbridge and southernmost point on the trail.

After admiring the rapids under the footbridge, head back north along the river and pass through another fenced gate. This side of the river is more closed in by the forest, but still allows for spectacular views of the river. A short climb brings you to a viewpoint, where you then descend back down to a spillway and boardwalk before crossing over a marshy area.

Once you pass under the Bill Healy Bridge a second time, the dirt path converts back to sidewalk and you’re now in Farewell Bend Park. Continue along the paved pathway where you’ll pass by an impressive bronze horse sculpture—a nod to the area’s logging and mill working days. Keep right to remain along the east side of the river, and soon you’ll enter the Old Mill District, where you’ll see firsthand one of the reasons the area is one of the most popular shopping destinations in Bend. Note: Be careful of pedestrians and children as you run past the shops and restaurants.

The Flag Bridge offers the first opportunity for a good turnaround spot if you’re looking for a shorter run at approximately 4.3 miles. If not, continue along the east side of the river and past Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe (a great spot to rent inner tubes or boats for a float on the river) where the dirt path leads you through a newly constructed pedestrian tunnel under the Colorado Avenue bridge.

After exiting the tunnel, turn left to cross the river on the footbridge overlooking Bend Whitewater Park, a state-of-the-art river recreation area built in 2015. If you’re not in a hurry, take a moment to watch the surfers, kayakers, and floaters as each navigates through the three channels of the park. Once done, continue on and hang another left at McKay Park onto Shevlin Hixon Drive to round the final corner of the 5.5-mile loop.

It’s here where you’ll often smell the brewing of Deschutes Brewery before you see it. Follow the sidewalk until the Les Schwab Amphitheater, a summer concert and events space that’s hosted everyone from Bob Dylan to Jack Johnson. A left turn puts you back on the paved pathway, and a few curves later you’ll be back at your starting point.


From downtown Bend, drive south on NW Wall Street and turn right onto NW Colorado Avenue, following it about 0.5 mile across the Deschutes River. At the roundabout, take the third right onto SW Simpson Avenue and then take another right a block later onto Shevlin Hixon Drive. Follow Shevlin Hixon south about 0.4 mile past SW Columbia Street until you reach the Bend Park and Recreation office, on your left.

Table of Contents

Overview Map

Acknowledgments viii

A Note from the Author ix

Foreword Max King x

Introduction 1

Why This Book? 2

Trail Running in Central Oregon 3

Trail Etiquette 3

Safety Concerns 5

Weather 6

Animal Precautions and Wildlife Safety 7

Waste Management 9

A Word About Technology 9

Running Shoes and Clothing 10

Fees and Regulations 12

How to Use This Book 13

Chapter 1 Year-Round Runs 19

1 Old Mill Loop 20

2 Pilot Butte State Park 24

3 Entrada River Loop 27

4 Archie Briggs Canyon 30

5 Shevlin Park Loop Trail 34

6 Ben's Trail 37

7 Phil's Trail 40

8 Lower Peterson Ridge Trail 43

Chapter 2 Winter Runs 49

9 Horse Butte 50

10 Horse Ridge 54

11 Badlands Rock 57

12 Larry Chitwood Trail 60

13 Tumulus Trail 63

14 Maston 66

15 Tumalo Canal Historic Area 71

16 Radlands 75

Chapter 3 Spring Runs 79

17 Suttle Lake 80

18 McKenzie River 83

19 Whychus Canyon Preserve 88

20 Cove Palisades State Park 92

21 Smith Rock State Park 96

22 Gray Butte 100

Chapter 4 Summer Runs 105

33 Tumalo Falls 106

24 Swampy Lakes 110

25 Three Shelters Loop 113

26 Paulina Lake 116

27 Patjens Lakes 120

28 Canyon Creek Meadows 123

29 Duffy Lake 127

30 Eight Lakes Basin 130

31 Clear Lake 135

32 Iron Mountain 139

33 Scott Lake 143

34 Matthieu Lakes 147

35 Obsidian Trail 151

36 Broken Top 156

37 Green Lakes 160

30 Moraine Lake 164

39 Sisters Mirror Lake 168

40 Horse Lake 172

41 Lemish Lake 176

42 Lookout Mountain 179

Chapter 5 Fall Runs 185

43 Metolius River 186

44 Metolius Preserve 190

45 Black Butte 194

46 Upper Peterson Ridge Trail 198

47 LaPine State Park: North Loop 202

40 LaPine State Park: South Loop 205

49 Paulina Creek 208

50 Otter Bench Trail 212

Appendix A Managing Agencies 216

Appendix B Running Clubs and Groups 219

Appendix C Running Stores 220

Appendix D Central Oregon Race Calendar 221

Index 223

About the Author 228

Map Legend

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