Three hundred days of sunshine and the unique high desert topography of Bend, Oregon have made it a trail runner’s dream town. Even when there is snow in the mountains, miles of desert trails wind through sagebrush, manzanita and volcanic rock formations at lower elevations. With 51 miles of in-town trails maintained by Bend Metro Parks & Recreation, and hundreds of miles of mountain biking, cross country and hiking trails a short drive from town, it is no wonder that Bend was named “America’s Best Trail Running Town” by the editors of Outside Magazine, and was the natural choice for the USA Track & Field Trail Half Marathon and 50k National Championships.
Before hitting the trail, stop into FootZone, the downtown “barbershop” of the local running scene. There is a great selection of trail maps and the store’s friendly employees will be happy to point you in the right direction. FootZone also presents a number of popular trail-running races throughout the summer months. With names like the Dirty Half, and the Haulin’ Aspen, these races might be worth planning your vacation around. Check out Fleet Feet Sports of Bend for gear, races and fitness events.
For some of Bend’s most popular daily runs, you don’t even need to get in the car. There is eleven miles of dirt path that meanders along the Deschutes River at opposite ends of town.
Start out at First Street Rapids Park and you’ll probably catch a glimpse of kayakers playing in the white water, or golfers lobbing balls overhead as you wind through a golf course. Dip into Archie Briggs Canyon, alive with wild flowers in the summer, and shades of orange, yellow and red in the fall.
At the other end of town, the Deschutes River Trail starts at Farewell Bend Park and makes an easy three-mile loop past gurgling rapids and waterfalls. Some of the most picturesque reaches of the trail begin off Century Drive before the Wigi Creek Golf Course. Weave through lava flows and the Big Eddy Recreation Site, a popular rapid for Bend whitewater rafting companies.
For those looking for longer workouts, explore Shevlin Park, which includes 647 acres of diverse old growth forest with Tumalo Creek as the central feature. The Green Lakes Trail, off the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, offers heavenly views and gentle climbs. There are also a number of trails that are part of Smith Rock State Park in Terrebonne, promising ultra-runners extreme elevation gain and challenging terrain.
Deschutes River Trail at Sawyer Park
Start at Sawyer Park, located in downtown Bend, for a nice run among the mature pine and juniper trees. The trail follows along the Deschutes River and is a great place to watch for migratory and riparian birds. In fact, it is part of the Oregon Cascade Birding Tour route.
Deschutes River Trail at Farewell Bend Park
Network of trails along the river and under a canopy of pine trees. Located on the west side of downtown Bend. For a longer run, start from Les Schwab Amphitheater area to get a five mile run in. For a shorter run, you can do the 3-mile loop starting at Farewell Bend park.
Shevlin Park contains a network of trails along the Tumalo Creek and under a canopy of old growth Ponderosa Pine trees located on the west side of Bend. It's home to an abundance of wildlife including chipmunks, squirrels, deer, elk, bear and the occasional cougar. Located on the west side of downtown Bend. You'll find a few short, steep hills on the Loop Trail which follows the rim of the canyon for six-miles. The Tumalo Creek trail follows the creek upstream for 2.5 miles where it eventually joins the Deschutes National Forest Trail system.
This trail connects Pilot Butte State Park and Larkspur Park on the east side of Bend. You can add an additional mile to run by going up to the top of Pilot Butte--enjoy the view!
Smith Rock State Park
Off Hwy 97 in Terrebonne (20 miles NE of Bend)
Running Events in Bend
Grin & Bear It - March
Horse Butte 10-miler - April
Salmon Run 5k/10k & Half - May
Pole Pedal Paddle - May
Happy Girls Half - May
Heaven Can Wait 5K Run - June
Pacific Crest Triathlon - June
Dirty Half Marathon - June
Spark your Heart - July
Cascade Lakes Relay - July
Deschutes Dash - July
Haulin' Aspen - August
Sunriver Marathon - September
Bend Adventure Race - September
Flagline 50k - September
SD's Down & Dirty Half - October
For a more complete list of running events in the area click here.