Best Moderate Hikes in Bend, Oregon

We are finally back after an extended break. It feels so good to be exploring and writing again. Just as the hiking season is starting, we are going to release the second part of my hiking series in Bend. The first was the best Hikes for Everyone in Bend, Oregon [Part 1]; here is the second, Moderate Hikes in Bend, Oregon [Part 2] and the last will be Hard Hikes in Bend, Oregon [Part 3]. Part 3 might take a while to get enough content!

So here we go…

If you are ready to take the next step in hiking, are a seasoned hiker looking for something new or just looking for a slightly challenging hike, then here is a list of the best Moderate Hikes in Bend and the surrounding area.

We have hiked all of these and they are in no particular order. These hikes definitely show how diverse Central Oregon is. To be put in this category, they are at least 5 miles in RT length and most have a good amount of elevation gain.

Green Lake Trail

Green Lake Trail and the lake went from a popular local attraction to overwhelmed with people. If you can make it during the week you will love the hike and lake for a fun day trip or a couple of nights being disconnected. When we first moved to the area, we were so happy that you could feel this far removed and be only 45 minutes from town.

The parking has become ridiculous. When you are driving through you have to make sure to not hit someone darting across the road, parked crooked or people just standing around like they are not on a highway. It does amaze me that this hike is so popular with tourists since it isn’t easy, but hey, as long as you are respecting the trails, more power to you for coming and being outdoors.

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Distance: 10 miles R/T
Elevation Gain: 1,187′
Trail Type: Out and Back
Dog Friendly: Yes, on a leash
Family Friendly: Yes
Parking: 44.030026, -121.735213 There is a small parking lot and overflow across the street, but be ready to try and attempt to park on Casecade Lakes National Scenic Byway. It fills up fast.
Parking Fee: You need a valid Recreation Pass
Permits: You enter Three Sisters Wilderness, so from Memorial Day to October 31, you need to fill out a permit for both day hiking and overnight camping.
Trailhead: 44.031080, -121.736418
Best Time: Summer and fall
Distance from Bend: 26 miles
Forest: Deschutes National Forest
Other Uses: Biking, Fishing, Birding, Trail Running,
Access: The road is not open year round. Usually closing in November and opening in late spring.
USDA Website for Area Status: Green Lakes Trail

Whychus ‘Chush’ Falls Trail

It can be slightly hard to find the parking and trailhead for this area as it is definitely off the beaten path. Definitely check out the weather and if the roads are open in the winter. We did this in December during a light winter and loved it again in the late spring. This might be considered easy to hiking veterans, but I added it here because of the distance and elevation gain along with a scramble to the falls.

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Distance: 6 miles R/T
Elevation Gain: 800′
Trail Type: Out and Back
Dog Friendly: Yes, on a leash
Family Friendly: Yes
Parking: 44.177244, -121.666917
Parking Fee: None
Permit: You enter Three Sisters Wilderness, so from Memorial Day to October 31, you need to fill out a permit
Best Time: All year
Distance from Bend: 35 miles
Distance from Sisters: 12 miles
Forest: Willamette National Forest
Other Uses: Trail Running
Access: Roads open year round, but could be blocked with snow in the winter.

Smith Rock – Misery Ridge

While not the longest hike, the elevation gain in such a short amount of miles is what put this here. Every step is worth seeing the views from the top. When you are here, you will definitely run into some sort of wildlife (beavers were the most fun to watch), rock climbers and trail runners. Bring your dogs if it is not too hot or not too cold as in the winter the trails becomes ice and is not maintained. Spikes are definitely suggested in the winter.

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Distance: 6 miles R/T – You do have to walk from the parking down to the trailhead at the bridge.
Elevation Gain: 1,043′
Trail Type: Out and Back or loop
Dog Friendly: Yes, to an extent
Family Friendly: Yes, to an extent
Parking: Small parking lot with bathrooms and picnic tables – 44.366574, -121.136510
Parking Fee: All year $5/vehicle/day
Trailhead: 44.368106, -121.139229
Best Time: All year
Distance from Bend: 27 miles
Other Uses: photography, rock climbing, Birding, Trail Running, Picnicking
Access: Roads open year round, smooth roads.
Drones: Not allowed

Moraine Lake Trail

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Distance: 4.9 miles R/T
Elevation Gain: 1480′
Trail Type: Out and Back
Dog Friendly: Yes, on a leash
Family Friendly: Yes, very
Parking: Medium sized parking lot with vault toilets and trash. Please don’t park like a jerk. 44.034820, -121.765626
Parking Fee: Whenever you can access Devil’s Lake.
Parking Accepted Passes: Northwest Forest Pass, Interagency Annual Pass, America the Beautiful Interagency Senior Pass, Interagency Access Pass, Interagency Military Pass, Every Kid in a Park Pass or Northwest Forest ePass.
Trailhead: 44.035383, -121.765739 Just to the right of the vault toilets and left of the ranger cabin.
Best Time: late summer and early fall.
Distance from Bend:
Forest: Deschutes National Forest and Three Sisters Wilderness
Other Uses: camping, backpacking, trail running, picnicking, fishing at lake
Access: Summer and Fall

Canyon Creek Meadows Loop

This is the farthest hike from Bend and probably the hardest of the moderate hikes. However, it is one of my favorite from the views, potential waterfall and potential mountain goats! There is herd that lives up there year round, but few have seen them. You also have the chance of hiking right up to Three Fingered Jack. Nestled in between Mt. Washington and Mt. Jefferson. Did you know that Three Fingered Jack is actually a shield volcano!?

Distance: 7 miles R/T
Elevation Gain: 1,100′
Trail Type: Out and Back
Dog Friendly: Yes, on a leash
Family Friendly: Yes
Parking: 44.491901, -121.794069
Parking Fee: N/A
Trailhead: 44.491901, -121.794069
Best Time: July-October (Highly depends on weather)
Distance from Bend: 45 miles
Forest: Mt. Jefferson Wilderness in both Willamette National Forest and Deschutes National Forest
Other Uses: Birding, Trail Running, Wildlife, and Lakes
Access: Roads are not always open in the winter and a 4×4 is the best as the road gets pretty bad in places.

Paulina Lake Loop

This trail is about 45 minutes south east of Bend, but worth a mention here. I would also say this is good for a beginner in that it is easy, just 7 miles can be long for some. It is a beautiful hike through the forest along the lake, so it would be hard to get lost. One of the best things about this hike is the hot springs that you may be lucky enough to find, and then even luckier if they are hot! There is a lot of camping around here as well, making for a fun day trip or weekend trip. There is also a resort and boat launch, so they really have everything! This trail is also at 6,000′ so bring water and snacks.

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Distance: 7 miles R/T
Elevation Gain: 360′
Trail Type: Loop
Dog Friendly: Yes, on a leash
Family Friendly: Yes
Parking: 43.712235, -121.276263 We parked in this general area.
Parking Fee: There is a fee for parking, see the link below for acceptable passes.
Trailhead: 44.491901, -121.794069
Best Time: June-October (Highly depends on weather)
Distance from Bend: 45 minutes (about 38 miles)
Forest: Deschutes National Forest
Other Uses: Birding, Trail Running, Fishing, Boating, Camping, Picnics
USDA Website for more information: Paulina Lake Day Use Area

Additional Info for Hiking in Bend

Starting in 2021 (delayed from 2020), a lot of hiking in Bend will be limited to a permit system. Check out Deschutes National Forest and local websites to see if the hike you are wanting to do has a sign up for permits. Some hikes will continue to do free permits at the trailhead. Bend has become overwhelmed the past couple years and so this new permit system has been put into place.

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Hiking in Bend Oregon

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