Kolby Kirk is the authority when it comes to hiking in Bend. This year, he is on track to complete his "100 Hikes Project,” a resolution to hike 100 times and 700 trail miles by 2014. Kirk also runs thehikeguy.com and is a generally jovial and knowledgeable guy. Read below for his top 5 hikes of 2013! Thanks for sharing with the Source, Kolby! See you on the trail.
Top Five Hikes in/around Bend
By Kolby Kirk
1. Shevlin Park - Within the 650-acres of mostly undeveloped land lying just west of town, there's a frayed-rope of trails running through the small canyon. Each season offers a new look at nature. I've seen great horned owls and golden mushrooms in the autumn, bald eagles in the winter, and dozens of types of wildflowers in the spring and summer. Don't let the label of "park" fool you; this place is a nature-lover's paradise.
2. Bessie Butte - There are hundreds of buttes in central Oregon but only a few have a well-defined trail, are within a close-proximity to Bend, and have impressive 360-degree views from the top. Sure, you can walk up to Pilot Butte with the rest of the tourists, or, instead, drive twenty minutes south of town to take in better views of Bachelor, the Three Sisters, Diamond Peak, and, on a clear day, Mount Thielsen from atop of this bald butte off of China Hat Road. It’s common to find that you’ve got the trail to yourself.
3. Paulina Lake Loop - Paulina Lake and Crater Lake share a few things in common: They both lay inside massive calderas, they both have crystal clear water, and they are jewels of Oregon. However, Paulina Lake gets just a fraction of visitors compared to Crater Lake. Paulina Lake (and all of Newberry Crater) have much more to do and see. A great introduction to the area is the 7.5-mile Paulina Lake Loop. Add a mile to the hike to check out the 80-foot Paulina Creek Falls.
4. Six Lakes Trail — There are plenty of trails connecting hikers with the beauty of the Three Sisters Wilderness, but one of my favorites is the Six Lakes Trail. Supposedly named for the number of lakes along the 7.5-mile trail, I’ve yet to find all of them, mainly due to the fact that the forest in this area is so thick, you can pass by a lake without realizing it. The largest and easiest to spot of the six are Blow Lake and Doris Lake, which offer great opportunities for swimming and fishing.
5. Whychus Canyon Preserve — For those who haven’t had their thumb on new trail news in the past couple of years, the Deschutes Land Trust has created some excellent trails in the Whychus Canyon Preserve, located a few miles northeast of Sisters. The well-managed trail system consists of single-tracks along the tranquil Whychus Creek, retired forest roads up on the rim of the canyon (offering spectacular views of North Sister) and steep connections between the two. Open year round, there’s always something cool to see here.