Chasing Waterfalls in Bend, Oregon, with Lectric eBikes

Chasing Waterfalls in Bend, Oregon, with Lectric eBikes

Bend has quickly become one of my favorite adventure cities in America. Picture this: you're driving through beautiful Central Oregon and stumble upon a gorgeous city with a river running through it, surrounded by countless volcanoes, mountains, rivers, lakes, and more. Sounds too good to be true? Well, it isn't. For residents of Bend, it is just another day of living. For you, it's your next dream adventure. Trust me when I say Bend is the picturesque mountain town with everything you could ever want. 


Regarding biking, it stands up there with the top cities in the country to bike. The entire town and surrounding areas are accessible by bike and even encouraged. In this blog, we will chase waterfalls in Bend and the surrounding areas. We will highlight some of the best adventure spots so when you plan your epic getaway here, you will not only be prepared to visit, but you will know the best places to visit. The blog's focus will be waterfalls, but we will also highlight several options that don't have waterfalls but are extremely biker-friendly! I am not exaggerating when I say you could spend a whole summer here and not scratch the surface of everything there is to do. 


So grab your bike and planner, and let's understand why Bend is the mountain town you dream of! 


Tumalo Falls

My favorite waterfall close to Bend is Tumalo Falls. This 97-foot waterfall sits just outside the city's edge—the cascading waterfalls flow into a beautiful creek to the Deschutes River in downtown Bend. What's the best part of this waterfall, you ask? You can ride your eBike from Bend to the waterfall. It is only a 14-mile bike ride from downtown to the waterfall viewpoint. A perfect ride for chasing a waterfall. Just know a portion of the road is gravel, so you will need the proper tires for this route, as you don't want to get a flat. Also, expect to have cars pass you on the gravel road depending on the time of day you go, so it can get a little dusty. That said, the views are worth it to experience this magnificent waterfall. It's a beautiful representation of what Bend is all about. The sound of roaring water, beautiful trees as far as the eye can see, and connecting with nature. 


The other part all eBike lovers will love is how many trails are available in the area. The area has multiple waterfalls and hikes, with countless trails for eBiking and hiking. Everything you see below in green is a bicycle trail. As I mentioned before, this is a biking paradise. Gravel, mountain, or paved road biking—this area has it all. To experience that, along with chasing beautiful waterfalls, is a must!

(Photo/PDF Courtesy of USDA Forest Service)


This is just a small taste of the adventure in the Bend area. Now, if you are up for a little bit longer of a drive, you will be rewarded with some of the most insane views in all of Oregon. That takes us to our next spot, Willamette National Forest.


Willamette National Forest

The National Forest could be my favorite area in all of Oregon. The Willamette National Forest is home to 3 volcano mountains and the McKenzie River. The water from the volcanoes and mountains melts and flows down into the McKenzie River, leaving it with some of the best waterfalls in the country! It's about a 90-minute drive from downtown Bend, so biking directly from it is probably impossible. That doesn't mean you cannot eBike in the area, as there are bike signs in many locations, and I will share a beautiful old-school highway that is a eBiker's dream. Here are some of my favorite things to do in this National Forest.


  • Koosah and Sahalie Falls: This combo of waterfalls sits about .5 miles from one another, and you can hike to hit both of them simultaneously (totally worth it). The hike is only a couple of miles and will leave you with some of the best views of the PNW. When you think of the PNW, this is the environment you will think of. Moss-covered trees are in every direction, giant trees are riddled throughout the forest, and beautiful, perfect blue water cascades down waterfalls. It is wet! This is one of my favorite combo waterfalls, and it is not only an adventurer's dream but also a photographer's dream. You can't take your eBike on this trail as it would be too dangerous with how wet it is and how close you are to the river, but it is a must-stop. I suggest starting at Sahalie Falls and working your way down to Koosah. Sahalie is the waterfall upstream, and Koosah is downstream, so the water flows downward. You will be astonished at how powerful this river is and how much water flies through the McKenzie. At times, when I stood near them, I could barely hear myself think; it was so loud. There is no better way to unplug yourself and immerse yourself in nature than standing by these waterfalls. I got there at sunrise and had it entirely to myself. It is a memory I won't forget. Just be very cautious. It is incredibly wet and dangerous near the river. You don't want to fall into that cold water with no help. This isn't the only stop in Willamette National Forest. We have more to explore!

 

  • Tamolitch Falls: The next great spot to check out in the area is Tamolitch Falls (Blue Pool). This is a hidden gem in the area and is not as well known as Koosah and Sahalie Falls. This pool of water comes from both Koosah and Sahalie Falls. Farther downstream, the water pools into a pool called Tamolitch Falls. The water is crystal blue, and you can see the bottom. It is frigid! The temperature of the water usually hovers around 34-39 degrees! If you're up for a cold plunge, this is your spot. This is also a hike-only trail but is easily accessible on the same highway that Koosah and Sahalie are off of. There is a small waterfall here, but the main attraction is the pool. I suggest bringing a snack or lunch, enjoying the beautiful pool, and jumping in if you are brave enough.

 

  • Proxy Falls: The next waterfall is Proxy Falls. This is just a few miles down the McKenzie Highway, which is on the old McKenzie Highway called Highway 242. This is a combo adventure. If you are up for the intensity of it, you can bike on this road. The highway is 36 miles long and has a lot of elevation gain. It connects McKenzie Highway on Willamette National Forest and Sisters, Oregon. On this highway, you will bike through Oregon's most beautiful forests and mountain scenes. The main attraction will be all the stops along the way on the road. It is riddled with waterfalls and gorgeous hikes all along the highway. My favorite stop is Proxy Falls. This majestic waterfall is one of the most exquisite waterfalls in the state. You will feel like you are walking into a fantasy novel as the waterfall cascades down onto rocks and fallen trees, leaving a gorgeous backdrop. Just a heads up, this area is closed during the winter due to the snowfall. They don't open the road until late May/June. I was planning on parking my car at the closed portion and eBiking because I read the snow melts by mid-May, and you can bike on it, but the road ended up being open. So, I just found a great spot and biked some of the highway. It was a beautiful ride, and didn't have very many cars. I am sure that is different in summer, so just be mindful. It deserves a visit, for sure! Now that we have tackled some incredible waterfalls, I want to share some options for you in Bend that aren't waterfalls. To start, we are going to one of the best State Parks in Oregon.

    Smith Rock State Park

    If you have ever been to Garden of the Gods in Colorado, this is the best comparison I can give to Smith Rock State Park. Picture a beautiful river carving through massive Rock Canyons towering from the ground into the sky. This area is a climber's and biker's paradise, with many trails to take your eBike. Smith Rock has access to trail running, mountain biking, horseback riding, climbing, and even slack-lining. It's an outdoor adventure playground. The park is large enough to find some solitude but not so big that you can't experience much of it in a day. My favorite place to bike is along the river trail, where you follow the crooked river for several miles and see the wildflowers bloom next to the river. You can see the climbers everywhere along the route. There are several thousand routes to climb in the park. I want to share some of my favorite eBiking trails in the park so you can pick which one you would like, or you can choose to do multiple. Quick disclaimer: All of these trails are shared trails. This means they are both hiking and biking trails, so keep that in mind when riding, just know that not everyone knows the proper etiquette, so be gracious and patient! Alright, let's get into the trails!

     

    • Crooked River Trail (4.3 Miles Moderate): We will start with my favorite trail in the park for biking. This trail stays at the bottom of the canyon and follows the river's entire length in the park. This is the perfect spot for a chill ride, just taking in the views from the canyon floor. You will deal with more traffic here as most people don't go to higher elevations in the park, but this is also the easiest trail, so if you are just looking for a casual ride, this is your best option. 

     

    • Misery Ridge and Summit Trail Loop (6.2 miles Hard): This is a more challenging trail but very doable. You will want the proper bike for this trail, as a standard bike won't be able to make it. You want a good mountain bike or a Lectric eBike! There can be steep sections on this trail with bike drop-offs, so ensure you are comfortable with your bike. If you do not want to risk it, I suggest staying on the crooked river trail as it is a lot easier to manage, but if you have more experience and want to go for it, this trail is a good option. This takes you to the top of the rocks in the canyon and loops around the park on what is called Misery Ridge. Many people will argue that this is the best view of the park. You will sometimes be riding a very narrow ridge line, being able to stare down to the river. It is truly breathtaking and exhilarating. I have one more trail for you that will combine both trails and leave for a very long, epic ride.

     

    • Smith Rock and Gray Butte via Summit Trail (20 Miles Difficult): If you are up for a challenge, this is your route! It has over 4k feet of elevation throughout the 20 miles. You will start in Smith Rock State Park and ride the entire park. Head to Gray Butte off the Summit Trail and back into the park. This is very doable, but it isn't for the faint of heart. Prep yourself if you do this route. Lots of water, snacks, and sunscreen. This would be a great way to see the park and be challenged in other spots around the park. I have not done this entire trail, but I heard good things about it. Now that we have given you some great options to explore Smith Rock, we want to share some great spots to ride in Bend, Oregon. 

      Downtown Bend/Deschutes River

      Bend, Oregon, is a beautiful mountain town with access to skiing, rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, and much more. One of the highlights of Bend is how biker-friendly it is. This city was designed to be friendly to bikes and give them access to explore and play throughout the city. Most roads have bike lanes, and they have designed an entire bike trail along the river that runs through the city.

      Deschutes River Trail is over 12 miles of trail that follow along the river to multiple parks in the downtown area. The trail runs on both sides of the river, so you can go to both sides and see some of the best views of downtown. Just be mindful because it can be crowded in spots, so you will deal with people hanging out in the parks and playing. With that said, it was a great, chill ride that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a beautiful spring day, and I could see all the beautiful parks downtown along the river. 

      This is also a great area to take advantage of the beautiful opportunities around this river trail. You can tube down the river, kayak, paddle board, or surf on the river. I saw people slacklining at a park on the trail. They do festivals and concerts along the river as well. It is the perfect place to spend a beautiful afternoon or sunset picnic. You would be missing out if you didn't spend some time near the Deschutes River trail in Bend. The last spot we want to share with you is a great place to see some of the best views in the city and central Oregon.


      Pilot Butte

      Pilot Butte is my favorite place to see the sunset and sunrise in Bend. This old cinder cone sits smack dab in the middle of Bend. It offers sweeping views in every direction, and on a clear day, you can see Mt. Hood, which is over 100 miles away. Some of the highlights of the High Desert at the top of Pilot Butte are The Three Sisters, Mt. Bachelor, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood, Smith Rock State Park, Black Butte, and so much more. The other thing I love about this Butte is that it is an excellent ride for your eBike up to the top. It's not a difficult ride as the elevation isn't too severe. Take your time to the top scenic point, but you must see this place for sunset or sunrise. It is incredible. You can easily bike here from any portion of downtown Bend, as it is a mile or two from the downtown area. You can also drive a car or hike to the top. There will be people, but usually, they only stay for a few minutes unless it is sunset, where parking can be limited due to the crowds. It's an easy excursion/adventure in the area, but it turned out to be one of my favorite things I did when I was in Bend. Small effort but a huge reward!

       

      If this article has not convinced you to get in your car and take a road trip to Bend or book your next plane ticket to the area, I am not sure what will. If the outdoors and adventure are in your soul, this beautiful area will quench that thirst. Just remember, like I said at the beginning of this blog, this is just scratching the surface of what this area is capable of! Use this article as inspiration for your trip here, and get out on the trails and find new places to explore. Adventure is waiting for you. Remember, Tomorrow is too Late!


      Author: Lucas Smissen

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