Distance: approx. 4 miles
Time: 2 hours (at a leisurely pace)
Dog Friendly: Yes, Off-leash in the wintertime
Permits: Yes, Northwest Forest Pass
Pros: Beautiful, easy trail minutes from town, option to make hike as easy or short as you like
Cons: Can be busy on weekends.
I love heading out to the Deschutes when I only have a couple of hours to kill. It’s so peaceful and the dogs can run and swim and act like maniacs. The trail is popular with dog-walkers because it’s off-leash part of the year and in some sections I think it’s off-leash all year. The trail doesn’t really gain any elevation in this section, just tiny amounts here and there. It follows right along the river and Lava Island is a bird sanctuary, so there are always birds to be seen….. and other “critters.”
Also, you can’t actually see Lava Island Falls from the trail…if you want to see waterfalls head to Dillon Falls or Benham Falls, both along the Deschutes River trail.
Even in winter the trail is accessible and used by bikers and hikers. And it’s easy enough that you’re friend who NEVER hikes would probably enjoy it. I never need much of a reason to get out here…it’s just so beautiful. In fact, I will probably head out here today….I need to break in my new Brooks Cascadia 9 Trail Runners anyway.
Seriously we have seen lots of birds out here: hawks, owls, a bald eagle…. and tons of the usual suspects too.
To get to the Deschutes River Trail from Bend you just head west on Hwy. 46 for about 7 miles and then turn left (South) onto Forest Road 41, and then east on 4120. Super easy and less than 15 minutes from town!!!
Best Hikes with Dogs Oregonby Ellen Morris Bishop is indispensable. It’s one of our go to guides for Oregon.