Since we got back from Anacortes in March, we’ve been busy with house projects and haven’t been able to fit in time for trips to the boat. So we’ve had a chance to enjoy some of Central Oregon’s wonderful hiking.
The Deschutes River runs through Bend and features several trails for walking and hiking along the river. We frequently use a portion of the Deschutes River Trail near our house that is about a 4-mile circular route along both sides of the river. It’s a great place for morning exercise walks.
In late March, we drove north near the town of Mitchell, Oregon, to the Painted Hills Unit, a part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The Painted Hills Unit has hiking trails and spectacular views of hills streaked with brilliant reds, soft golds, and splashes of black that create artistic patterns.
It was mostly cloudy, very windy, and quite cold the day we were at Painted Hills…but it was still beautiful. We’d like to go back sometime later in the year when the colors get more intense and perhaps the weather would be a little warmer.
In April, we drove south to Fort Rock State Natural Area, located on the high desert south and east of LaPine, Oregon. Again we had a cold, windy day and it was overcast (are the weather gods trying to tell us something?). We hiked through the park (although the trails were poorly marked) and enjoyed the natural scenery and historical background, but didn’t linger due to the wind and cold.
Later that same day, after our hike at Fort Rock Park, we drove a little further south to Silver Lake, Oregon, where we met our friends Len and Linda at the Cowboy Dinner Tree Steakhouse. This family-style restaurant in a remote location takes you back to a simpler time of huge family style portions and a casual relaxed atmosphere. They serve so much food that they provide “doggie” bags because everybody takes home leftovers. You order your meal ahead, and can choose between chicken (a whole roasted chicken) and steak (a 23-30 oz. top sirloin steak). All meals include homemade soup, yeast rolls, salad, baked potato, and dessert. It’s definitely a fun place and certainly a unique experience. You can watch a fun YouTube video about the Cowboy Dinner Tree here.
Last month we hiked a couple of times at Smith Rock State Park, a little north of us, near Redmond, Oregon. Smith Rock is a renowned area for rock climbing and also offers miles of trails through the Oregon high desert plateau and along the Crooked River. We did two hikes last month—one was about 4 miles, and the other about 7 miles. It was sunny and HOT both times…guess the weather gods gave us the extra heat to compensate for the colder hikes we did earlier.
Now we’re ready to think about boating again!