1. Blue Pool
The trails less traveled are the ones we cherish most and Central Oregon has a bounty of places to choose from. Head up the McKenzie River Valley into the mountains where a trail leads to one of Oregon’s most remarkable sites called Tamolitch or the “Blue Pool.”
Start with an easy and beautiful hike through old growth Douglas fir forest, adjacent to the the McKenzie river falls. Eventually you come upon Blue Pool. Here you can climb down the steep embankment and go for a VERY cold swim or just stay above to take in its beauty and have a picnic lunch.
2. Smith Rock
If you enjoy scenic views of deep river canyons, hiking, biking, or rock climbing, Smith Rock State Park is the place for you. There are several thousand climbs in the park, more than a thousand of which are bolted routes. Smith Rock also offer miles of incredible hiking and mountain biking trails. Gather up the gear and head drive about 40 minutes to this majestic site.
3. Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls
Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls, located along the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass, mark the ends of two thick flows of basaltic andesite lava that dammed Clear Lake and moved into the McKenzie River 3,000 years ago. The results are two spectacular waterfalls. The Waterfalls Loop Trail, part of the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail, connects the 2 waterfalls and offers up close views of the wild McKenzie River.
4. Sparks Lake
This Central Oregon destination is the perfect place for an adventure. With South Sister, Broken Top, and Mount Bachelor rising in dramatic magnificence above crystal water 25 miles east of Bend, you will not want to pass up the opportunity to visit this lake. Hop into a kayak or onto a paddleboard and explore the lake’s hidden coves. Settle down on one of Spark’s many beaches and soak up the sun before heading home.
5. Steelhead Falls
This secluded area along the Deschutes River perfect for swimming and cliff jumping with amazing views of the river valley. It is pretty much reserved for a local crowd and located just 30 minutes from Bend. If you like to mix in a little adrenaline with your swimming and don’t mind some cold water, Steelhead is the perfect place for you. The spot features a powerful 15-foot waterfall and is surrounded by 25- to 30-foot cliffs ideal for jumping. Farther downstream is an area for wading and swimming. A half-mile trail leads directly from the parking area to the waterfall.