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Are you headed to Central Oregon soon? Want to explore all that it has to offer? Well, let me start by saying that the Bend area and Central Oregon in general have a lot to offer! I think just about every time I go there I adamantly state that I want to move there. I love it. From the beautiful mountains to the awesome downtown area, you will never be without something to do.
If you have never seen any of the waterfalls in Bend Oregon or surrounding areas, you are missing out! I am not exaggerating when I say that there are some stunning waterfalls in the area! There are! I have 16 different waterfalls listed here below, but I’m relatively sure that I haven’t gotten them all. It seems like there are amazing waterfalls in every direction you turn when you are in central Oregon! Now you have good reason to visit the area again (as if you didn’t already).
Gorgeous Waterfalls in Bend Oregon
Keep in mind that many of these falls require a Forest Service recreation pass to park in the parking lot. You can visit a nearby office or their website to get yours!
Paulina Creek Falls
Paulina Creek Falls is located near Paulina lake, which is outside of the Newberry Caldera. It’s a double waterfall and drops roughly 80 feet over volcanic cliffs onto massive rocks below.
There is an easy hike (roughly 1/2 mile) that leads to picnic areas with an overlook of the falls. If you love hiking though, you can continue on to a 5-mile hike around Paulina Lake.
If you are in the mood to take a day trip, you can visit one of Oregon’s most popular waterfalls. Toketee Falls is near Idlelyd Park, Oregon a roughly 2.5-hour trip away from Bend. It’s a relatively easy hike that generally takes people less than half an hour to complete fully. Expect to run into other hikers though!
Tumalo Falls and Tumalo creek trail is a stunning waterfall hike located about 20 miles outside of Bend. This was actually our first central Oregon waterfall visit and it did not disappoint! I did this easy stroll to the waterfall while carrying my then 2-month-old child, so this is definitely what I would consider an easy one to visit.
Keep in mind that the road to Tumalo Falls is often closed during the winter months, so plan accordingly!
Koosah Falls and Sahalie Falls
I absolutely love this little hike because you get two falls in one!! When you hit the Koosah Falls and Sahalie Falls loop trail, you are going to be treated to views of old-growth forest and roaring rivers in addition to the breathtaking 100-foot tall Sahalie Falls and the 70-foot tall Koosah Falls! This easy hike is a two-and-a-half-mile long loop, which has been rated as easy with just 400 feet of elevation gain.
A little over an hour away from Bend, you’ll find the beautiful Marion Falls. The falls are fed by a small creek that drops 35 feet over a basalt ledge. The trail to Marion Falls is a 1.5-mile loop hike that begins at the Marion Lake Trailhead. The trail is considered moderately difficult, with a total elevation gain of around 500 feet.
Dillon Falls is roughly 13 miles southwest of Bend, Oregon, and can be accessed from the Dillon Falls Trailhead. The waterfall is a popular spot for fishing, kayaking, and hiking, and the trail offers stunning views of the Deschutes River and the surrounding landscape. The waterfall is also a great spot for photographers looking for some beautiful nature shots!
Lava Island Falls
Lava Island Falls rapids on the Deschutes River is well known for its scenic views, nearby hiking trails, and for being a much loved kayaking location located within the De. The falls themselves are categorized as class 5 rapids, so be careful visiting this one!
While not a traditional waterfall, Benham Falls is a beautiful spot along the Deschutes River that features powerful rapids and cascades.
Steelhead Falls is a scenic waterfall and rapids located on the Deschutes River in central Oregon, United States. The falls are located about 13 miles upstream from the city of Redmond and can be accessed via a short hike from a nearby parking lot.
Steelhead Falls is a popular spot for fishing, swimming, and kayaking, and the area is also home to a variety of wildlife, including bald eagles, osprey, and river otters. The falls themselves are about 20 feet high, and the water flows over a series of basalt ledges and through a narrow canyon before continuing downstream.
Salt Creek Falls
Well, this one is a little over an hour away from Bend, but perfect for a day trip! Salt Creek Falls is a spectacular waterfall located in the Cascade Range of Oregon, United States. It is located about 26 miles southeast of the city of Oakridge and is easily accessible via Highway 58.
The waterfall has a height of 286 feet, making it the second-highest waterfall in Oregon. It is fed by Salt Creek and flows over a basalt shelf into a large pool below. Visitors can view the waterfall from several viewpoints, including a wheelchair-accessible overlook at the top of the falls and a steep trail that leads down to the base of the falls.
Salt Creek Falls is part of the Willamette National Forest and is a popular destination for hiking, picnicking, and sightseeing. The area around the falls is home to a variety of wildlife!
Chush Falls is a beautiful waterfall located in Central Oregon, United States. It is situated in the Deschutes National Forest, about 22 miles southwest of the town of Sisters.
The waterfall has a height of approximately 225 feet and is fed by Whychus Creek. Chush Falls is known for its picturesque setting, with a deep canyon and rugged cliffs surrounding the waterfall.
To reach Chush Falls, visitors must hike a 4.2-mile trail through the Deschutes National Forest. The trailhead is located at the Whychus Creek Campground and follows an old logging road before descending into a canyon. The hiking trail can be challenging in places, with steep inclines and rocky terrain, but the reward of reaching Chush Falls is worth the effort.
Cline Falls is a scenic waterfall located on the Deschutes River in Central Oregon, United States. It is situated about 6 miles northwest of the town of Redmond and can be accessed from Cline Falls State Scenic Viewpoint.
The waterfall is not very tall, with a drop of only about 10 feet, but it is wide and picturesque. The Deschutes River flows over a series of rocks and boulders before cascading over Cline Falls and then continuing downstream through a deep canyon.
Visitors can view Cline Falls from a scenic viewpoint located on the west side of the Deschutes River. The viewpoint offers stunning views of the waterfall and the surrounding canyon. It is also a popular spot for fishing, picnicking, and hiking.
Upper Proxy Falls and Lower Proxy Falls
Proxy Falls is a beautiful waterfall located in the Three Sisters Wilderness area of Central Oregon, United States. It is situated about 6 miles east of McKenzie Pass and can be accessed from a trailhead off of McKenzie Highway (Highway 242).
The waterfall has a height of approximately 226 feet and is fed by Proxy Creek. It is known for its unique appearance, with two separate streams of water cascading over a mossy cliff and joining together at the base of the falls.
Visitors can reach Proxy Falls via a 1.6-mile round-trip hiking trail that winds through a forest of old-growth Douglas fir trees. The trail is well-maintained and features several viewpoints that offer stunning views of the waterfall and the surrounding wilderness area.
A visit to Linton Falls will lead you to see 2 beautiful, yet not well-known Central Oregon Waterfalls. This is not a journey I would recommend to a novice hiker though, so beware! Begin your hike at the trailhead at Linton Lake. The first mile and a half is a pretty easy walk and ends at the Obsidian Creek campground. The hike then becomes a little more challenging and leads you over the rugged ground, fallen trees, and more.
If you love a good challenge, these falls are well worth the trip!
Watson Falls is another one that is more suited for a day trip since it is 2 hours from Bend, but it is worth the visit! These falls are the third-highest falls in the state. It has a total height of 272 feet (83 meters) and is the third-tallest waterfall in Oregon. The water drops in a single plunge and creates a misty spray at the base of the falls. To reach Watson Falls, visitors can take the Watson Falls Trail, a well-maintained hiking trail that is approximately 0.8 miles (1.3 kilometers) long. The trail is considered moderate in difficulty, with some steep sections and uneven terrain. Along the way, hikers can enjoy scenic views of the forest and the surrounding mountains.
Diamond Creek Falls
Less than an hour and a half from Bend, you’ll find Diamond Creek Falls. The waterfall is approximately 75 feet (23 meters) high and consists of multiple tiers that cascade over the rocks. The water flows through a narrow chute before plunging into a pool at the base of the falls. The surrounding area is covered in dense forest, making it a popular destination for hiking and nature enthusiasts.
To reach Diamond Creek Falls, visitors can take the Diamond Creek Falls Trail, which is approximately 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometers) long. The trail is considered moderate in difficulty, with some steep sections and rocky terrain. Along the way, hikers can enjoy views of the forest and the sound of the rushing water as they approach the falls.
Other Popular Non-Waterfall Hikes Near Bend, Oregon
Here are some of the most popular hikes and trails in the area for hikers and mountain bikers. The day hikes you’ll find here can range throughout all skill levels, so there will be something for everyone!
Smith Rock State Park
Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Deschutes River Trail
Misery Ridge Trail
Dee Wright Observatory and the Dee Wright Memorial Trail (the panoramic views here are unmatched)
Pilot Butte State Park
Green Lakes Trail
Safety Tips for Hiking
To help you stay safe, be sure to always follow these simple safety tips before heading out to explore your favorite hikes in the Cascade Mountains area in the Pacific Northwest and beyond:
Let someone know where you will be (this is especially true if you are out hiking alone)
Bring plenty of water
Leave your car in an established parking area
Pack a small first-aid kit
Dress appropriately for the weather conditions
Check weather conditions (depending on where you are, you may find yourself experiencing winter-like conditions, even in the summer months)