Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Deschutes River Trail

We can't speak too highly of the Deschutes River Trail in Bend. Two sections easily accessible sections show some of the many moods of the river.

If you find yourself downtown with a bit of time, try the view from Drake Park. Here, the Deschutes is at its most placid-- artificially widened into Mirror Pond. Geese congregate on rolling green lawns, with juniper and ponderosa providing plenty of shade for those hot, sunny days. Many urban and suburban birds perch out here, including house sparrows, crows, mourning doves, Brewer's blackbirds, red-winged blackbirds and robins. This is mallard heaven as well. But look for a few surprises, like mute swan, bufflehead and a Eurasian widgeon among the American variety.
A nice paver pathway invites a stroll on the river bank and plenty of benches give you a place to sit and ponder. Public parking is available off NW Riverside Blvd.

For a bit more wild experience, try the section of trail south from Farewell Bend Park. While you can take a nice stroll through this park as well, we recommend heading for the dirt trail from the south part of the park that takes you upstream to a footbridge, where you can cross and return on the other side for a nice three mile loop. The trail slips through mainly ponderosa forest, but interpretive signs help with some of the other vegetation. Some of our wildlife sightings included common mergansers, Townsend's solitares, robins, bushtits (including a nest), ravens, a black phoebe and American dippers. We can also provide two eyewitness accounts to verify that there are fish in the river. First, we watched an osprey dive from its tree perch with a splash into the water, arising with a small fish in its talon. Then, as we were standing on the footbridge, we watched a river otter haul its catch out onto a rock and munch away.

Access Farewell Bend Park from Reed Market Rd at the south end of Bend. Click here to download a map of the urban trail.

Outside of the city, another 8.7 mile stretch passes three falls and several rapids on USFS land. To get there, drive west on Century Drive (Cascade Lakes Hwy) out of Bend to a brown sign pointing left to the Meadows Picnic Area, just before Widgi Creek golf course. Turn left on the gravel road 1.3 miles. If you are not up for the full mileage, take Road 41 just past the Inn at Seventh Mountain for several other access points to the trail.

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