Central Oregon Spring Hiking

Painted Hills Unit

In March, we hiked at the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, where the hills are streaked with colors of red, gold, green, and black. It’s gorgeous!

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.

Deschutes River Trail

We enjoy brisk walks/hikes near our house along the Deschutes River Trail. We began our loop of the river on the south side and returned on the north side. A nice 4-mile hike!

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.

Painted Hills 02

This is another photo from our hike at Painted Hills Unit, showing a larger area. When I took the photo, I didn’t notice a few tourists who had wandered off the trail and ended up in my photo. Not everyone follows the rules to stay on the trails!

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.

Painted Hills Unit

Among the trails at Painted Hills, this trail includes a walkway that is wheel-chair accessible.

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.

Fort Rock State Natural Area

This photo was taken as we were hiking at Fort Rock State Park. It shows some of the rocks in the park as well as views of the barren high desert plateau surrounding the park.

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.

Cowboy Dinner Tree

The Cowboy Dinner Tree Steakhouse is open year-round on weekends, with some weekdays added in the summer.

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.

Smith Rock State Park

Smith Rock State Park is a popular place for rock climbing and hiking. There are many trails along the Crooked River, which runs through the park.

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.

Misery Ridge Trail

One of our hikes took us up the Misery Ridge Trail. A portion of the trail is visible at the top left of the photo, and the Crooked River below us is visible on the right.

Now we’re ready to think about boating again!

4 thoughts on “Central Oregon Spring Hiking

  1. Greetings,
    Just a note to say we really enjoyed your photographs and comments about Bend. Hope to see you in Anacortes this summer.
    Helen & Wayne Maxey

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s