Cool and Easy Day Hike Along Benham Falls

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Variety. It’s what the English poet, William Cowper, said was the very spice of life. And it’s what Bend excels in offering day hikers.

The area around this central Oregon city is made up of three distinct geographic landscapes: forest, high desert and volcanic. Many hikes feature just one. Yet, along the easy path to Benham Falls, we hit the jackpot with all three. At first glance, the contrast seemed jarring. But after a while, the trail’s diversity became a fascinating lesson in ecosystems.

This was a refreshing hike, even on a warm summer day. Most of the walk followed the curving Deschutes River through tunnels of Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir trees. These wooden sentries provided protection from the sun by casting their long shadows over the trail. We could also feel the Falls’ cool air as the path took us down next to and then up above them. This was no trickle of water, but rather a thundering whirlpool of green and white whose power was palpable as it pounded against the rocks.

If you enjoyed this story in our series, you may also enjoy three other stories about day hikes in the Bend area to Smith Rock State Park, an extinct volcano or a pair of alpine lakes. We also invite you to check out the books in our series.