Chush Falls, also known as Lower Whychus Falls, is one of three proximate falls on Whychus Creek. The three have been said by some to rival Yellowstone for scenic value. I can't stand behind that claim, but ours are something special and a much shorter trip to boot. The official trail ends at an overlook above Lower Falls, and is an easy one-mile hike from the trailhead. But, if you look around it's easy to spot the social trails going both down to the base of these falls—where the money shot is—and up to middle and upper falls. These are tougher to get to and as they are off the official trail it's critical to stay on the social trail to prevent further degradation of soil and vegetation in this beautiful landscape.
Directions: From Bend, take Hwy 20 to Sisters. Turn left at Elm Street, and proceed for about seven miles. Take a right at the gravel road marked Whychus Creek (FS Road 1514). Continue five miles on 1514, then turn left onto the much rougher FS Road 600 just before the bridge crossing. From here, go two miles then make a left at the T. Look for the trailhead a half-mile from the turn.
Alder Springs has been dubbed an oasis in the desert by nearly every naturalist who has chosen to write about it. Its cool springs ascending from below the landscape, greening the channels feeding into Whychus, are noteworthy to be sure—but the brightly colored, behemothic rock formations are the real stars here. This six-mile loop descends into Whychus canyon, crosses the water (pick your shoes accordingly), and follows the creek all the way to its confluence with the Deschutes. It's a moderate hike at most, but take note: the trail is no stranger to rattlesnakes sunning themselves on cool days.
Directions: From Bend drive Hwy 20 toward Sisters. Turn right onto Cloverdale Road and drive three and a half miles to the four-way junction with Hwy 126. Take a right onto 126; at two miles, turn left onto Holmes Road. Holmes will make a sharp right at about a mile and a half, but keep on Holmes for another five and a half miles. Turn left on FS 6360, which is signed Alder Springs Trail. Continue on 6360 for four miles, turn right at the sign for Alder Springs and proceed seven tenths of a mile down an ugly excuse for a road to the trailhead.