| | |

7 of the best summer hikes near Bend, Oregon

Amiana sitting on top of Paulina Peak in Bend, Oregon. This is a can't miss summer hikes near Bend in Central Oregon!

We love visiting Bend, Oregon in EVERY season, but summer might just be my favorite time of year there! One of the things I love most about visiting in summer is how many amazing hikes there are nearby. Below are 7 can’t miss summer hikes near Bend, Oregon.

The hikes below are suitable for a range of skill levels, and they also cover a diverse range of landscapes, from beautiful waterfalls to ancient volcanic lava flows, hot springs, and underground lava caves. While some of these trails are open year-round, these hikes are usually best done in summer and fall. 

7 summer hikes near Bend, Oregon to add to your summer bucket list

Paulina Peak Trail

Length: 6.2 miles (roundtrip)  |  Elevation gain: 1,610 feet  |  Trail type: out & back
Fees: $5 day pass, or free with America the Beautiful or Annual Northwest Forest Pass

A female hiker overlooking the lava flows along the trail to Paulina Peak.

If you’re looking for epic summer hikes near Bend then Paulina Peak needs to be on your radar! Located in Newberry Volcanic National Monument, Paulina Peak Trail takes you up to the high point on the rim of the Newberry Caldera. The 360 views at the top of Paulina Peak are incredible! As you approach the top of the mountain you’ll wander through a white pine forest, where you’ll likely get glimpses of the charismatic Clark’s nutcracker (a bird species whose range encompasses parts of the western US and Canada). On a clear day you’ll be able to see Paulina Lake down below as well as many Cascade mountains in the distance like the Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mount Bachelor. This hike is considered challenging.

Hiking gear tips: This hike is partially exposed and can get sunny and hot. We recommend wearing a sun shirt (I like this option for women and men), and packing lots of water (we’re big fans of these water bladders).

Paulina Hot Springs

Length: 2.8 miles (roundtrip)  |  Elevation gain: 131 feet  |  Trail type: out & back
Fees:  $5 day pass, or free with America the Beautiful or Annual Northwest Forest Pass

Located in Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Paulina Hot Springs is one of the best hot springs we’ve visited in the Pacific Northwest. The pools are hand-dug into the sand surrounding Paulina Lake and hot water bubbles into each pool. If you get too warm and need to cool off then Paulina Lake is just two steps away, offering a great option for a cold plunge! To get to Paulina Hot Springs, park at the public lot near Little Crater Campground. From there, you’ll walk counterclockwise around the lake. You’ll pass through the campground before joining the Paulina Lakeshore Trail. The trail to the hot springs runs along the edge of Paulina Lake, and you’ll walk approximately one mile before seeing the hot springs at the edge of the lake. The pools are relatively small. 

Even if you are not interested in taking a dip into the hot springs the hike along Paulina Lake shore is still beautiful. You’ll get glimpses of Paulina Peak in the distance, and you’ll likely see massive trout in the clear water below. This is a great trail to do close to sunset.

Hot spring gear tips: While beautiful, this area can be prone to mosquitoes. We recommend a deet-free bug spray. We also recommend packing a shovel (in case you need to deepen your hot spring pool), a light-weight towel, waterproof sandals (we like these for women and men), and a headlamp if you’ll be hiking near sunset.

Misery Ridge and Summit Loop Trail

Length: 6.2 miles (round trip)  |  Elevation gain: 1,761 feet  |  Trail type: loop
Fees: $5 state park day pass (this supports Oregon’s amazing state parks!)

Misery Ridge Trail in Smith Rock state park outside of Bend, Oregon.

Smith Rock State Park is the remnant of an old volcano that left behind massive spires and dramatic cliffs in the middle of the Central Oregon desert. The Misery Ridge and Summit Loop Trail is one of the most rewarding hikes in Smith Rock State Park. If you can only do one hike at Smith Rock this should be it! 

This hike starts off on the west side of the state park. Once you hit the trail you’ll immediately cross the Crooked River before ascending the trail high above the cliffs where you walk along a ridge amongst the rock spires. There are lots of great photo op spots to take pictures of Smith Rock’s spires and the Crooked River down below! Along the hike you’ll pass by the famous Monkey Face (one of the tallest spires), where you might observe rock climbers. You’ll then start a gradual descent until you reach the valley, where the rest of the trail winds along the Crooked River. The trail is generally in great condition but, because of the steep incline, this hike can be tough! You’ll get a good butt workout – it’s called Misery Ridge for a reason!

Hiking gear tip: This hike is entirely exposed, which means you’ll need to pack plenty of water! We recommend at least 2 liters of water per person (these water bladders are great!), and waiting until evening or early morning to do this trail in the summer. 

Tumalo Falls Loop

Length: 6.9 miles (roundtrip)  |  Elevation gain: 1,223 ft  |  Trail type: loop
Fees: $5 day pass, or free with America the Beautiful or Annual Northwest Forest Pass

Tumalo falls in the early morning light of summer

Tumalo Falls is one of the most iconic waterfalls near Bend, Oregon, this is one of my favorite summer hikes near Bend. Cascading nearly 100 feet over a massive cliff, this waterfall is picture perfect! You’ll find lots of great viewing locations and photo opportunities just a short walk from the trailhead, which is only .2 miles away from the main waterfall viewing area.

Although this area is popular, most folks only go to Tumalo Falls before turning around so the rest of the hike is relatively secluded. This trail is a loop, and we recommend hiking counter clockwise. This trail winds through a forest paralleling Tumalo Creek, and there are many spots along the trail to turn out and see several more waterfalls along the way. These waterfalls are smaller than Tumalo, but still beautiful.

Because this trail is popular and the parking lot is small, we recommend getting to the trailhead early! We arrived at 7 AM and the lot was already starting to fill up. Also note that this hike requires hikers to either ford the creek or cross a rudimentary log bridge. Because of that, it is important to understand your physical comfort and skill level when embarking on this trail.

Hiking gear tips: This hike can be prone to mosquitoes in the summer and fall. We recommend bringing deet-free bug spray and wearing layers.

Big Obsidian Flow Trail

Length: 0.7 mile (round trip) |  Elevation gain: 203 feet  |  Trail type: loop
Fees: $5 day pass, or free with America the Beautiful or Annual Northwest Forest Pass

Located in Newberry National Volcanic Monument, the Big Obsidian Flow Trail is one of the most unique trails in the Pacific Northwest! This short hike winds through an ancient obsidian flow. The obsidian is essentially naturally occuring, pitch-black volcanic glass that sparkles in the sun! You are allowed to pick up the obsidian (carefully! It’s sharp like glass), but you are not allowed to take any home with you. This trail is not paved and has some uneven ground, so be careful when navigating it.

Hiking gear tips: This hike has no shade and is entirely exposed to the sun. We recommend wearing a sun shirt (I like this option for women and men)!

Deschutes River South Canyon Trail

Length: 3.1 mile (round trip)  |  Elevation gain: 137 feet  |  Trail type: loop
Fee: Free!

The river meandering along the Deschutes River South Canyon Trail.

Located in downtown Bend, Oregon, this is a fantastic trail for a mid-afternoon stroll. This is one of my favorite urban hikes, mostly because it doesn’t feel like you’re in a city at all! The trail winds through a Ponderosa pine forest along the Deschutes River, where you’ll get glimpses of river rapids, aquatic birds, and other wildlife. It’s a popular trail for trail runners and locals, but you’ll still enjoy some solitude along the way. This is our favorite “low-key” hike whenever we stay in Bend. We recommend parking at Riverbend Park and walking counter clockwise along the trail.

Pilot Butte

Length: 1.8 miles (roundtrip)  |  Elevation gain: 456 feet  |  Trail type: out & back
Fee: Free

The sunset over Bend seen from Pilot Butte. This is a can't miss summer hike near Bend.

This is hands down one of the best summer hikes near Bend! Located in downtown Bend, Pilot Butte is an ancient cinder cone volcano that rises 500 feet above the city. In the summer you can drive to the top (in winter the road is closed, so your only option is to walk up), but we honestly recommend parking at the base of the cider cone and walking 1 mile to the top. The trail winds around the cinder cone and offers great views of downtown Bend and the mountains in the distance. 

Pro tip: Pilot Butte is a great spot to watch the sunset! We’ve been up a few times for sunset and it’s always beautiful. 

Looking for more? You can find more epic pacific northwest travel locations on our blog!

Similar Posts