Deschutes River Trail: Sunriver to Benham Falls

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This week I’ve decided to chop my way through the Deschutes River Trail from start to finish. Previously, I’ve had the luxury of completing the journey in a day with a shuttle at the end. Now that school is in session and my time is limited, I’m going to have to break the trip up over short out-and-backs. IMG_0535

I begin at the Sun & Lava trail at the North end of Sunriver Resort. Sunriver is structured around a series of ‘circles’ (roundabouts) that are numbered. The trailhead lies between circles 7 and 9, coincidentally there is no circle 8. Growing up, if a lost tourist asked any of us kids ‘how to get to the lodge?’ we always sent them in the direction of the non existent circle.

I chuckle as I pull into the parking area, this was the edge of the world back then. Today though, my walk seems a tame undertaking, it is paved and I’m only here because hunting season has pushed me into city limits. Still, it’s 7:30 in the morning all too awfully quiet. I start down the path, the only sound is the wing flapping of a surprised flicker.  It is mid October and I have been watching too many ghost shows, my heart quickens. I instinctively hold my breath. I hear a noise. Whoosh, swish, whoosh. I see movement. OH NO, WHAT IS IT?

Three old guys in windbreaker pants and 1980’s Olympics crewnecks shuffle by me.

They wave hello and I am so relieved. There’s no doubt these men have gone as far as I am going (and back) and have not encountered anything creepy. Walking in civilization is good, even if it means I have to ditch my post-apocalyptic survival backpack and dress (kind of) like a normal human.

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The passage from resort to river is short (1.9miles) and pleasant. I really can’t believe that, except for the three old guys, I have the trail to myself the entire time. A solo trip on the same trail near The Old Mill? Forget about it.

IMG_0548It is .5 miles to Benham Falls from the Bridge that crosses The Deschutes. The trail turns to dirt as it follows the river downstream past a series of rapids. You can read all about Benham Falls here. This is my favorite place to bring out of town visitors, it’s always a hit! IMG_0611 The falls overlook features a restroom, picnic table, and river trail map. You can access this area from Forest Service road 41. I turned around at this point, making this out-and-back exactly 6 miles long. Yeehaw!

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