Time to lace up sneakers, skip the treadmill and hit the trails.
Summer and fall bring ample opportunities for trail running in Central Oregon. Spring, however, is a different story, as higher elevation trails can still be snowed in. Here, three local runners share their favorite trails for running in Central Oregon in the spring.
“For getting in some hills early spring I like to run the Summit Loop and Misery Ridge out at Smith Rock, and once snow starts to melt off more, Tumalo Falls up to to Happy Valley. Earlier in the spring I like to run the Deschutes River Trail, Horse Butte and Horse Ridge (out east), and Peterson Ridge (in Sisters). Running along the Metolius out past Sisters is also nice that time of year. And of course, Shevlin Park is always beautiful and easy to access for a nice spring run.”
Misery Ridge | About 1-mile, but entirely uphill
Tumalo Falls to Happy Valley | 10 miles
Deschutes River Trail | Old Mill Loop is about 6 miles
Horse Butte | 10 miles
Horse Ridge | 30 miles of trails to choose from
Peterson Ridge | 16 miles of trails to choose from
“An area developed by the Deschutes Land Trust, the Whychus Canyon Preserve has canyon views, mountain views and in the springtime, plenty of wildflowers to view as well. Classic high desert flora such as balsamroot and lupine litter the steep canyonsides and provide some nice color as you run up and down nature’s version of a stair workout.
The Tam-a-láu Trail is one of those hidden gems in plain sight. Most Central Oregonians have probably never heard of it, let alone run on it, but certainly know where it is. Situated atop the high plateau above the confluence of the Deschutes, Crooked and Metolius Rivers at the Cove Palisades State Park, the trail is a perfect springtime run. Summer crowds—and heat—have yet to come, and you’ll most likely have all the views to yourself.
The springtime wildflowers on Lookout Mountain in the Ochocos are likely to be out by late May or early June. One of my favorite loop runs, this classic 7-mile loop highlights some of the region’s best, including balsamroot, lupine, shooting star, mountain bluebell, Indian paintbrush, larkspur, and columbine.”
Whychus Canyon Preserve | 7 miles
Tam-a-láu Trail | 7 miles
Lookout Mountain | 7 miles
“Springtime I like to run at Smith Rock because the wildflowers are beautiful along the trails and the temperatures are not too hot like they can be in the summer out there. Also, the Deschutes River Trail between Meadow Picnic Area and Benham Falls is very scenic. The colors in the flowers and trees come out with great contrast against the lava rocks.”
Smith Rock | Lots of different trails to choose from, easy to moderate routes
Meadow Picnic Area to Benham Falls | 6.5 miles
Shevlin Park | A lot of trails to choose from with varying lengths
On all these great local trails, be sure to keep a mask handy and to maintain your distance from other people and groups on the trail. Please mask up when passing other groups, or when keeping six feet away is impossible. Let someone know where you’re going before you take off, stick to the trail and have fun!
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in 2018