Bend, Oregon is an outdoor athlete’s paradise. People come from all over the world for the skiing and snowboarding, the rock climbing, the mountain biking, the hiking, the rafting, and the running. Situated at 3,600 feet elevation and surrounded by the Cascade mountain range, Bend sees almost 200 days of full sun each year, compared to Portland’s 10 (this is an estimate, but I think it is pretty close to accurate).
For Adam and I, moving to Bend was a no-brainer. We love to backpack, hike, climb, and, above all else, run.
I have been a runner for over 10 years, but trail running is a newer concept to me. My first journey in to trail running was a 15k I ran with a friend in 2010. I was already a marathon runner at that point and I thought, “9 miles on a trail!? No big deal!” Well, the race ended with a lot of tears and a promise that I would never run on a trail ever again. As it turns out, trail running is a whole different beast than road running.
Trail running feels like the opposite of this!
Well, all these years later, trail running still isn’t easy. There are still tears involved sometimes, but I have learned a lot about trail running over time and it has made the experience way more fun! I will definitely write more about my running journey and tips and tricks later, but today I want to share a few of our favorite trail runs in the Bend area! I have broken this up in to some longer and shorter runs, so hopefully you can find something run regardless of your experience level!
Broken Top is a beautiful, punishing 26 mile loop that circumnavigates Broken Top mountain. With an elevation change of over 4,000 ft, this one is a killer.
We actually did Broken Top for the first time as a backpacking trip in two days (but really a 5 mile day followed by a 21 mile day) and thought, “If we can do this with 30 pounds on our back in two days, why can’t we do it in one day packing light?” And so the next weekend, we did!
Broken Top is best accessed during the summer, but even then you will likely find some snow before your decline. The trail passes several beautiful lakes and treats you to beautiful views of Broken Top and its surrounding mountains.
This one is worth the booty kicking!
Newberry Crater loop is a beautiful 21 mile loop with insane views of Paulina Lake. Of all the area long runs we completed, Newberry was probably the most beautiful.
This beast is actually very runable, which makes it pretty challenging. The first 5 miles or so are at a steep incline, so you will walk the first few miles, which we both found to be a little discouraging. But after moving past the start, the trail becomes all flat and downhill.
Newberry was a phenomenal run and probably our favorite. This one isn’t to be missed!
Three Fingered Jack was our third long run in 3 weeks and the culmination of a 55 mile week for me, so we were, understandably, a little less stoked heading in to this one than the others.
This 23 miler is peppered with killer long, slow inclines and a punishing final push to the top of the mountain. Be it good or bad, the last 10 miles are all downhill, which is much nicer in theory than in practice. Challenge aside, this is a great one! The loop is a bit more rugged than some of the others and there are parts that really challenge your technical abilities.
Our first big trail run in Bend was a 15 mile race at Smith Rocks. And because Adam is the best boyfriend ever, he registered us for this race as my birthday present last year. I mean, c’mon, could he get any sweeter?
Smith is a huge running, hiking, and climbing area, and there are a huge number of trails to choose from in the area. If you want to get your butt kicked, take a run up Misery Ridge or Burma Road. The view from the top is unbelievable and worth every foot of elevation gain.
Smith is a stunner!
We were so lucky to live right at the base of Pilot Butte and we ran and walked it as much as possible during our time in Bend. Though she is short, she is mighty! This 2 mile loop treats you to the best views of Bend and the mountains that you could ever hope to find! The 450 foot elevation gain over a mile is nothing to scoff at and is a popular hiking spot for Bend locals.
Check out Pilot Butte at sunset for one of the most beautiful panoramic sunset views you will ever see!
The Deschutes River Loop is so awesome because it’s basically a choose your own adventure of distance! You can run anything from a 1 miler to a 20 miler on this trail, which is flat and super friendly for all levels of experience.
The Deschutes River is so wild and looks beautiful from any angle. Hop on the trail for a quick little lunchtime walk or make it a day and take the trail all the way to neighboring Sunriver!
Bend is an unlimited paradise of running trails. While this is just a small glimpse of the variety of trails available to you, there are some phenomenal hidden gems located around every corner both inside and outside of town.