Monday, June 27, 2016

From Badlands to Waterfalls


For a change of scenery we returned to the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, about 15 miles southeast of Bend. In 2014 we hiked the Flatiron Trail to a large rock outcropping. This time we took the Badlands Rock trail to a different rock outcropping. This is classic high desert, hiking along a soft sandy trail through ancient western junipers and interesting rocks.

It’s an easy three miles to Badlands Rock, and impossible to miss.


Since this is a wilderness area, horses are welcome but no mountain bikes allowed.


We scrambled up the rocks to see the views from the top. It was a good cloud day.


Jim attempting to make his way up.


Jeanne taking photos of the snow-capped Cascade mountains in the distance.


The trail continued on and I thought we could make a loop that wouldn’t be too much longer but we ended up with an eight mile hike. It was not bad since it was mostly flat, but it got pretty hot by the time we finished.


The following day we took a drive along the 82 mile McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway west of Sisters, OR, which we missed on our last visit. The road just recently opened for the season, and we drove the loop counter clockwise, which first took us through lava fields. The blue skies we had as we left Bend changed to low hanging clouds, drizzle, and a serious drop in temperature as we climbed to over 5,000’. When we stopped at the Belknap Crater viewpoint and the Dee Wright Observatory it was down to 41, not exactly what we were dressed for.


The observatory, looking like a medieval castle high above McKenzie Pass, was built by the CCC in 1935.


The peak finder didn’t do us much good with all the clouds.



We continued on hoping the rain would end before our next destination, the Proxy Falls trail. It did stop raining but only warmed into the upper 40s. The trail is just under 2 miles if you take both offshoots to the upper and lower falls.

The trail was just beautiful. Lush, green, damp and mossy. Such a contrast from the previous day’s hike in the Badlands.




Bend, OR 2016

Proxy Falls at 226’ tall is impossible to photograph it in its entirety. This is the lower falls.




Don’t think it’s part of the official trail but you can continue down a steep slope to the base.


Jeanne got her feet wet to get a good shot of the falls. We joked that the forest service ought to trim some trees for better views.


The falls flow into this shallow pond which has no apparent drainage, but I read that the water just seeps into the ground, which is hard to imagine if you see how much water flows down.


We continued on to the upper falls, but you can’t get as close here.


Our next stop along the scenic drive was the trail to Koosah and Sahalie Falls. We started at the 100’ Sahalie Falls, just a short walk from the parking lot.


But hiking along the river to Koosah Falls was almost as impressive as the falls themselves.




We were awestruck by the beauty.





Koosah Falls, obscured by more of Oregon’s trees.


But walking a bit farther brings you to a better overlook of the 70’ falls.


Jeanne and me at the overlook.


There are many more miles of trails and lakes to explore in this area but that will have to wait for another time.


The rest of our week was spent playing pickleball, mountain biking on the Phil’s trail system, and visiting more breweries. We took a tour of Deschutes Brewing Co, which was fun, although their beers are just okay. Watching the bottling process was fascinating, though.


And after their shift is over, the employees can go in this “restroom” and get a pint. Nice job benefit. It’s an employee owned company and everyone seems happy to work there.

Bend, OR 20161

We also went out to dinner with Marial and Jeanne to Pacific Pizza and Brew. The pizza was really good and they have a huge selection of local craft beers on tap. And we had to go back to Crux since Jim wanted another Tough Love before it ran out, and also revisited Bridge 99, which is now our favorite brewery in Bend.

Our Bend time ends on Thursday, so unless something exciting happens between now and then, our next post will be coming from Portland. See you there.


  1. Beautiful would be hard for me to leave such beauty!

  2. I didn't know Oregon had a Badlands.

    The observatory is crazy looking. I really like how it blends into the surrounding area.

    I wish we would have spent more time in this area. That trail is amazing.

  3. The falls are wonderful!!! Oregon is such a diverse place, it has everything!

  4. If not for the jackets, I'd think you were in Hawaii :)
    Box Canyon

  5. Looks like you were looking for peaks the day we were paddling Sparks Lake behind Mt Bachelor. Heading east to go south now.

  6. Gorgeous waterfalls. I love the contrast in weather and beauty of the two days of hikes. Pretty color blue in some of the river shots.

  7. What a change in scenery between the hikes! Remembering clothing when changing elevation is something we are still trying to remember. Guess we should just keep some jackets in the car! The waterfalls are gorgeous! All that moist green and glacial blue water...perfect:)

  8. This post was like a blast from the past. We took the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway from the opposite direction, in our truck camper, something I would never recommend. This was our Plan B (not researched beforehand) when we couldn't get to a hike we had planned. The route just opened that day and it was scary in a wider vehicle. All of the beautiful falls along the route helped to distract us. We will have to try Bridge 99 Brewery the next time we are in Bend. I think Crux was my favorite.

  9. Love the rugged lava flows and the magical waterfall trail - just gorgeous!! We definitely have to make it to Bend next summer. Safe travels to Portland.

  10. Cripes! Don't all those trees give you the heebie-jeebies?

  11. Your pictures are great,as always! I love the area you are in. Been a while since I've been there. I plan to go back in a year or 2.

  12. At first I thought it was a strange coincidence that we both went by a tipped tractor trailer, but then I realized it was the same one! I went by right after it happened. The WINs are staying at a Sno Park a half mile past the crash scene. BTW, we talked to the driver and he was fine, although he might not have a job...

  13. Love that whole area. Nice views from the rocks but walking on sand in the heat is a bear. Definitely a land of contrasts. Love Oregon with it's almost secret forests of flowing water.

    Trying to catch up. I like Portland, for a city.