A Visitor’s Guide to the Deschutes River Trail

Deschutes River Trail
Deschutes River Trail | © Anna Bruce / Culture Trip
You can explore the natural wonder of Oregon through through 12 miles of trails along the Deschutes River.

Bend is a pretty magical place. The Central Oregon hub is the gateway to the high desert; it houses more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the state; it is home to the great Mt. Bachelor and Deschutes River. It’s essentially an adventurer’s haven.

Deschutes River Trail © Anna Bruce / Culture Trip

For those who are staying in Bend and want to explore within the city’s boundaries, the Deschutes River Trail (DRT) is a peaceful bit of nature that’s just over two miles from downtown.

The DRT stretches for 12 miles worth of trails, all within Bend’s city limits. For those unsure which path will best suit their curiosity needs, we’re breaking down each of the trail’s five sections with all the pertinent info.

Deschutes River Trail © Anna Bruce / Culture Trip

Awbrey Reach

Awbrey Reach is located just north of Bend’s Sawyer Park and was constructed on top of the buried Tumalo irrigation canal. The unpaved section of the DRT stretches 3.9 miles and ends in the Awbrey Glen neighborhood. Along the middle stretch, the river drops into a deep canyon while the trail stays high on the canyon wall, creating breathtaking views of the Deschutes, Riley Ranch Nature Reserve, and Cascade Mountain Range.

Hours: 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Access: Sawyer Park

Length: 3.9 miles

Surface: Unpaved

Deschutes River Trail © Anna Bruce / Culture Trip

River Run Reach

River Run Reach is a relatively flat section of the DRT located mostly on the river’s west bank and over the Tumalo irrigation canal pipe. The 1.5 mile trail runs between the river and a high canyon wall and passes through the River’s Edge golf course and its adjacent neighborhoods. Several wetlands inhabited by ospreys, songbirds, trumpeter swans, otters, and beavers can be seen on this reach.

Hours: 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Access: First Street Rapids Park, Pioneer Park, and Sawyer Park

Length: 1.5 miles

Surface: Paved, unpaved

Deschutes River Trail © Anna Bruce / Culture Trip

Pioneer Reach

Pioneer Reach is a paved portion of the DRT that passes through the oldest sections of Bend. The 2.5 mile trail veers away from the river at times, following sidewalks through neighborhoods and downtown, and passing through Drake Park and next to Mirror Pond.

Hours: 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Access: Columbia Park, Drake Park, Harmon Park, Pacific Park, Pageant Park, Pioneer Park, Miller’s Landing and McKay Park

Length: 2.5 miles

Surface: Paved

Deschutes River Trail © Anna Bruce / Culture Trip

Old Mill Reach

Old Mill Reach is located from Farewell Bend Park to McKay Park and the Bend Whitewater Park. Though the Old Mill loop is 2.4 miles, there is an extensive private trail system throughout the Old Mill District—an outdoor venue that boasts dozens of eateries and shops.

Hours: 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Access: Farewell Bend Park, McKay Park, and Riverbend Park

Length: 2.4 miles

Surface: Paved, unpaved

Deschutes River Trail © Anna Bruce / Culture Trip

South Canyon Reach

South Canyon Reach is the longest section of the DRT, and also the most secluded. The 4.5 mile stretch winds alongside the Deschutes River as it rushes through a beautiful canyon.

Hours: 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Length: 4.5 miles

Surface: Unpaved, soft

Deschutes River Trail © Anna Bruce / Culture Trip