The Deschutes River State Recreation Area is a tree-shaded, overnight oasis for campers. The sparkle-laden, swift, green rush of the Deschutes converges with the Columbia here, and there's no better place for family outing activities like hiking, mountain biking, camping, rafting, world-class steelhead and trout fishing, and equestrian trail riding.
Trail is a mixture of runners, people with dogs, and mountain bikers. It's a dirt trail that is mostly flat. Walking along the river was really pretty but to/from was just okay. Keep track of which paths you've taken because it isn't marked at all. Overall pretty, close to Bend, and very dog friendly!
If someone had told us last year that we would be attempting an overnight backpack adventure in January, I would have laughed hysterically. It usually pours rain in January, which makes for less than ideal camping conditions. But this has been a warm and dry winter so far so we decided to take advantage of that and do an early season overnight on the Lower Deschutes.
We had planned to camp at the same place we camped at last year with our friend David (about 3.5 miles in from the trailhead). But it was a gorgeous day and last year, we had visited an abandoned boxcar at around mile 6 and decided on the spur of the moment to camp near it instead.
Rivière des Chutes, the name given to the river by 19th-century fur traders, means 'River of the Falls.' It is perfectly named, as we saw many rapids along its length and its sound lulled us to sleep. The views of the Deschutes River Canyon, especially when the sky is covered with stars during a waxing moon phase, made every little ache, pain and worry worth the trip. The trains go by every couple of hours, which can sound rather loud, but we were miles from anyone and completely alone. It was very awe-inspiring.
This is a good beginner trail to get brand new mountain bikers used to riding on non-asphalt roads. The path itself is fairly flat with only a a couple of climbs that aren't very long. The road itself is a dirt road with sections that are occasionally gravel-filled or rock-filled. These areas are do not occur very often. I rode 11.2 miles along this trail going in and it ends up at the Harris Ranch, an abandoned ranch home that offers a lot of great picture-taking opportunities. You can turn around from the trailhead at any time, but I highly recommend you try to make the 11.2 miles and get to the ranch before turning around. A restroom exists at roughly Mile 6 or 7 if you need one. I used this trail to introduce my wife to mountain biking which she loved.
This riverside hike offers some great views of both the river and the canyon it has carved. There is nothing to difficult about it, although you have a choice to either follow the nice and flat, well graveled, rail trail, or taking some of the side paths that are smaller and weave up and down, beside the river, etc. We saw many bikers on the trail, although they were restricted to the staightforward the graveled rail trail. In the springtime their are wild flowers, which adds some nice color to the desert landscape. If you are like me, you will also enjoy seeing trains weave down the canyon on the other side of the river.
My suggestion would be spend the day hiking as far as you would like, double back, and spend the night at the campground where you can listen to the sound of the river and trains throughout the night.
Camping at the park, did a day excursion with 2 year old 8 year old and dog. Took the "middle" trail with hopes of looping back for the river trail on the way back. Unfortunately there are no markings for when they join up ( many down trails to the river man made can be deceiving) reached the bike trail and had to double back. Worth it though. Off the river trail be Rattlesnake rapids there is a great sandy beach area to cool your feet! Recommend this trail but it is loose rocks and fall offs in certain areas so tiny hikers should be backpacked!