An abundance of year-round sunshine and the unique high desert topography of Bend, Oregon have made it a trail runner’s dream town. Even when there’s 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’s no wonder Bend was named “America’s Best Trail Running Town” by the editors of Outside magazine. Bend was also the chosen site for for the USA Track & Field Trail Half Marathon, 50K and Mountain Running National Championships. Lace up those running shoes — you’re in for a real treat with trail running in Bend!
Before hitting the trail stop at FootZone. Both shops are the favorite stomping grounds for local runners, and staff members are the gurus of Bend’s trail running scene. Browse their expansive selection of trail maps, or let the local specialists hook you up with the perfect pair of running shoes. Both shops sponsor races and clinics throughout the year, so they’ll be happy to give you an excuse to plan your Bend vacation around a special event.
For some of Bend’s most popular daily runs, you don’t even need to jump in the car. You’ll find 11 miles of dirt path meandering 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 whitewater. 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 Widgi Creek Golf Course. Weave through lava flows and the Big Eddy Recreation Site, a popular rapid for Bend whitewater rafting companies.
For those craving 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 at 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 in a 5-mile run. For a shorter run, you can do the 3-mile loop starting at Farewell Bend park.
Shevlin Park Shevlin Park contains a network of trails along 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 westside of downtown Bend, you’ll find a few short, steep hills on the Loop Trail which follows the rim of the canyon for 6 miles. The Tumalo Creek trail follows the creek upstream for 2.5 miles where it eventually joins the Deschutes National Forest Trail system.
Larkspur Trail 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 If you’re looking for a little more elevation change look no farther than Smith Rock which is 2O miles NE of Bend off Hwy 97 in Terrebonne.