I’ve spent time in Portland and Eugene, Oregon, but never made it out to Bend. I had two days to get a quick taste of just how delightful this town is. Let me start by saying two days is not enough time! This not-so-small resort town is packed full of outdoor activities, coffee shops, bike shops, breweries, independent businesses and more.
Day one was a bike ride, of course. There is no better way to shake out airplane-crammed legs like a nice long ride. We headed to Cog Wild— a bike shop, shuttle service and tours— to grab a couple Santa Cruz and Juliana rental bikes. The staff was very helpful with suspension setup and fitting. We jumped on the shop’s shuttle service to the trailhead, unloaded, looked at our local friend/guide and headed out.
The Bend trails were soft and sandy due to lack of rain, which I was told is normal for this time of year. I found out quickly just how loose the sand was, by sliding out and having a mild crash into soft sand within the first 200-feet of riding. The locals informed me that as soon as the rain hits (it actually rained the next day) the divots in the trail would fill and the dirt will be wonderfully tacky.
The trails we rode had a few punchy, rocky climbs and descents, but it was mostly fun and fast flow trail. With the sand so loose, minding the gap between riders was a pretty big deal unless you wanted to eat dust for lunch. A 20-mile ride just gave a taste of what else the area has, and I can’t wait to go back and ride more on these trails.
At the end of the day, we headed to Deschutes Brewery for a scheduled tour of their facility, then headed to the Deschutes restaurant for dinner and drinks. One can’t go wrong with either of these options. The restaurant focuses on natural, sustainable fare that is locally sourced and house-made. Make sure you contact Deschutes Brewery for tour schedule information. It is an impressive facility.
Day two, we drove to Smith Rock: a climbing, hiking and overall spectacle of natural beauty. We hiked along the small river surrounding the mountain, around the back and up to the mountain peak. The hike to the top and then back down is just 3.7 miles on the path we took, which was labeled “most difficult” on the way up but took a different and slightly easier descent down on the parking lot-facing side. Our group was a mixture of different fitness levels. We had three super athletes who ran up the mountain did a 3-pitch climb to the top and then ran back down (RAN! With all their gear!). A few intermediate-advanced mountain bikers but only one “hard-core” hiker, as well as someone who is new to outdoor-adventuring (they mountain biked too and had a blast). It took all of us about 3-hours with lots of nature stops and photo taking to complete the hike.
Juniper trees are everywhere along the mountain trail, with Tim Burton style twisted trunks, brightly colored flowers sprinkled along the terrain along with a multitude of different types of rocks. It would be easy to sit at the top and stare at the beauty or watch the climbers ascend to the top. If you are educated in sport-climbing, it looks like an amazing place to do so.
Bend also has a lot of locally-owned restaurants that opt to get their ingredients resourced locally. We went to an amazing Thai food restaurant called Wild Rose Northern Thai Eats and a breakfast house called Jackson’s Corner. Both had amazing menus and delicious food. I got the feeling in Bend there are many restaurants with a plethora of delicious items that we did not get a chance to enjoy. There are also a lot of microbreweries in the area that are waiting to be explored.
You tell me, have you been to Bend? What did I miss?! Let me know in the comments below because I’m already daydreaming about my return trip.