The weather might be cooler, but some trails typically remain snow-free and just right for an easy hike. Unlike some other winter activities, a walk in the woods doesn’t require expensive equipment or expert skills, especially if you choose one of these trails the whole family can enjoy. Check the weather, bundle up, and head out for a morning or afternoon of early winter fun for all generations.
Shevlin Park Loop Trail
Start at: Shevlin Park parking
Marking its 100-year anniversary as a Bend park in 2021, Shevlin Park is a nearly 1,000-acre area offering a number of trails. Depending on recent snowfall, winter hikers may face only a little mud or packed snow. Choose an accessible stroll on the paved road or a number of single-track trails, including Shevlin Park Loop Trail, a 4.7-mile jaunt that’s perfect for taking at your own pace. In winter, bring shoes you don’t mind getting muddy. Expect forested high desert scenery, glimpses of Tumalo Creek, quaint foot bridges and frosted or snow-capped trees.
Deschutes River Trail Through Old Mill District
Start at: Riverbend Park or old mill district
The Deschutes River Trail covers a dozen miles through Bend. The paved stretch hugs the river through the Old Mill District and is a great way to get family members of all ability levels outside. With proximity to shops and restaurants, you can even promise hot chocolate. This trail provides a surprising amount of wildlife and nature viewing right in town. While many species of birds live and nest in the riparian zone, look carefully and you may even see beavers and river otters swimming, or bald eagles and ospreys soaring overhead. A pedestrian and bike-only bridge connected to the trail parallels SW Columbia Street and overlooks Bend Whitewater Park, where you’re likely to see brave souls surfing and kayaking even in winter.
Big Pine Loop
Start at: La Pine State Park Big pine trailhead
At 0.7 miles, the Big Pine Loop trail south of Bend near La Pine is a great hike for all skill levels that offers beautiful views of big pines, just as the name implies, plus sights of the Deschutes River. Layer up for a walk around the loop to breathe in the fresh scent of ponderosa pine and pause a moment at two special spots on the trail. First, McGregor Memorial Viewpoint where there is a gorgeous bend in the Deschutes River, and second, the affectionately named “Big Red,” a 500-year-old, 29-foot-diameter beauty that’s one of the world’s largest ponderosa pines. It’s a sight to behold.