“I have a really busy week at work,” I told my better half the other morning. “What’s a Visit Bend blog topic that’s easy to write?”
He thought about it a minute. “How about reasons to go hiking in Bend?”
Listing reasons to enjoy one of the most awesome experiences you can have for free? Yeah—pretty much the definition of easy.
Still, it’s worth spelling out for those unfamiliar with Bend’s 51 miles of in-town trails and thousands of acres of hikable terrain just outside the city limits. It’s also worth reminding the old pros who just need a nudge to lace up your boots and get out there.
Here are five reasons you need to drop what you’re doing right now and go hiking in Bend.
It’s great exercise
Going for a stroll is such a simple activity, but you may be surprised at how many calories a hike can burn. It varies widely depending on terrain, speed, and the weight of the hiker, but generally speaking, a 160-pound person burns around 430-440 calories for an hour of hiking. Not too shabby. That goes up if you weigh more or if you’re tackling some trickier terrain. Hit an uphill hike like Pilot Butte State Park to feel some extra burn in your calves and glutes, or pick up the pace and try a bit of trail running to really feel the impact.
It’s free therapy
In my non-Visit Bend life, I’m a published romantic comedy author with four novels and two novellas slated for release in a twelve month period. Suffice it to say, I’m under a bit of deadline pressure at the moment. Few things leave me feeling more centered or clear-headed than a hike with my pooch. If I’m stuck in a plot hole, I throw some snacks and water in a day pack, load my dog in the car, and drive out to the Oregon Badlands Wilderness for a few hours of fresh air and wide open space. Nine times out of ten, I’ll come home with my plot problem solved and my psyche soothed.
My gentleman friend also turns to solo hiking in times of stress, and he’s been known to seek out remote spots so he can talk out loud to himself as a way of sorting through what’s troubling him. (Sidenote: if you see a tall, handsome guy muttering to himself on the trail, he’s harmless. Really).
Whether you spend your time calling for Fido or conversing with no one, hiking is a great way to check in with yourself and do a bit of soul-searching.
It’s a pretty awesome date
While the aforementioned solo hike can be an excellent form of therapy, a hike with your significant other can be great for the opposite reason. Bend’s scenic beauty lends itself well to feelings of elation and romance, so why not make the most of it?
Check out this blog post for tips on great places to kiss in and around Bend, or seek out your own scenic spots. I’m a big fan of Devil’s Lake—a gorgeous, turquoise lake that’s one of the first you come to on the Cascade Lakes Highway. In warmer months, a simple picnic hike along the Deschutes River Trail is an easy way to go. In chillier months, head an hour southwest of Bend along the Mckenzie River and find the trailhead to Tamolich Pool just off Highway 126. The two mile hike to the spot dubbed “Blue Pool” is one of the most romantic, scenic places you’ll ever see.
You need a quest
Some people require a bit more stimulation than the act of putting one foot in front of the other. For those folks, geocaching can be the perfect way to turn a regular hike into a quest for buried treasure. If you’re unfamiliar with geocaching, it’s an outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS. Participants navigate to a set of GPS coordinates and try to find the geochache (usually a container of random goodies left by other players). There are more than six million geocachers worldwide. You can learn more about the sport and locate Bend-area geocaches here.
For a similar experience with the benefit of trained guides and organized searches, gather a team of eight or more and book a GPS Eco-Challenge with Wanderlust Tours for your next team-building or family gathering.
Why buy postcards when you can make your own?
Our BendVisitorCenter has a lovely array of postcards for you to send to pals back home, and I should probably encourage you to buy those. But to be honest, the beauty of Bend hiking is that it’s totally possible for you to capture breathtaking photos all on your own. If you’re on Facebook, check out Visit Bend’s page where we routinely post images shared by visitors. Many are snapped on cell phones with no filters or Photoshop, and most of them are gorgeous. While professional photographers obviously take killer shots (and I encourage you to support them in galleries around town) you can make your own souvenirs pretty easily if you pack your camera on a hike. Want to hone your photo skills? Check with Cascade Center of Photography for upcoming classes and workshops.
Happy hiking, everyone!