A 100-foot waterfall with numerous hiking trail options of varying difficulty and length.
Central Oregon has many beautiful places to visit and there are some fabulous hikes just a few minutes from downtown Bend. One of our favourite places to visit is Tumalo Falls.
Leaving Bend you take a ten-mile drive along a tree-lined paved road deep into the Deschutes National Forest. This road is often closed in the winter due to snow. Eventually, the paved road runs out and then you travel a further two miles on a dirt road at the end of which is a small parking lot. It costs $5 for a day pass – but it is free if you have a Northwest Forest Pass or Inter-agency Pass. And when I said the parking lot is small I mean small – it fills up very quickly, so often you have to park on the road and walk-in.
Here is a MAP of the area.
From the parking lot, there are many options for hiking and mountain biking. The most popular option is to take the Northfork Trail. The first thing you will see once you set out on the Northfork is the impressive 97-foot main fall, where the Tumalo Creek crashes down vertically from the ridge. After a short, but steep climb you reach the viewing platform where you can look over the falls – it is very beautiful and impressive. Most people seem to only get this far and they miss much more beautiful falls upstream.
From the main falls, the Northfork trail continues upwards. Along the next half a mile, or so Tumalo Creek settles down and is easily accessible if you fancy a paddle – which is especially on the way back down!
If you are lucky enough to visit at the right time you might get to see a mass visitation of California Tortoiseshells – it is a truly magical experience with a literal cloud of butterflies descending on the area!
As you travel further up the Northfork trail there are more falls to see – none quite as amazing as the main falls – but nonetheless spectacular in their own way. There are also more places to stop and enjoy Tumalo Creek more closely. There is nothing we like more than the sounds of a babbling brook.
The majority of the journey is along paths beneath the canopy of the pine trees, which provide a lot of shade, which a blessing on a hot day.
Eventually, the Northfork Trail ends in a sumptuous meadow, which is adorned with an assortment of wildflowers in the early summer months. Here there are options to extend your hike along numerous trails or simply head back down to the parking lot. If you fancy a circular walk then take the Mrzek Trail south and join the Farewell Trail which will bring you back on to the road a short distance from the Northfork Trail parking lot.
There are also some great mountain bike trails from the same spot, but bikes are not allowed (although I have seen many people ignore this) on the first part of the North Trail.