Majestic waterfalls, pristine lakes and riverside trails await along some of our favorite family-friendly hikes in Central Oregon
1 – Proxy Falls, 28 miles west of Sisters on Highway 242 (McKenzie Pass)
A short hike (1.5 miles) with a spectacular payoff. About an 80-minute drive from Bend, this Central Oregon classic is on the west side of the McKenzie Pass. It’s one of the most scenic waterfalls in the state and a stop at the Dee Wright Observatory atop the pass on the way there makes this one of our go-to treks for when visitors are in town.
2 – Lucky Lake (above picture), trailhead 38.8 miles southwest of Bend on Cascade Lakes Highway
During hot summer days, Lucky Lake makes for a perfect hike/swim adventure. About 3 miles out and back from the trailhead, which is just a few miles south of the Elk Lake Resort, Lucky Lake has several spots with easy access for swimming. It’s beautiful but just far enough from Bend and off the Cascade Lakes Highway to avoid most of the summer rush.
3 – Riley Ranch Nature Preserve, 19975 Glen Vista Rd, Bend
One of Bend’s newest parks, Riley Ranch is a 184-acre of rugged terrain within the city limits. There’s approximately 3 miles of trails within the nature preserve, including 1 ¼ miles in the Deschutes River Canyon along the river. Note, bikes and dogs are not allowed at Riley Ranch.
4 – Fall River Trail, about 28 miles south of Bend on S Century Drive
Home to beavers, trout and old growth ponderosa pines, the Fall River Trail makes for relaxing river stroll that folks of all ages will enjoy. This 2-mile loop takes hikers on both sides of the river and to the Fall River’s headwaters.
5 –Dillon Falls, about 8.5 miles southwest of Bend
We love how we can morph this hike for just about any audience. For families with little ones, the Dillon Falls Day Use area is great for picnics and exploring the falls and the immediate area around them. More experience hikers can do a 6.8-mile out-and-back trip to Benham Falls that showcases some of the best of the Deschutes River. Smooth and flowy, it’s also a great trail running route.