The trailhead is easy to find, if your car makes it in one piece
through the washboard gravel of Forest Road 100, although it is
marked only for hikers and not for bicycles.
However, bicycles are allowed, and it is
most popular trail.
The trail follows the
for its entirety, offering beautiful scenery and looks at the rapids
and waterfalls of the river, cut out from the lava flows of Newberry
The temperature was a sweltering 100 degrees, and I had just left
work, where I put in ten suffocating hours in the heat.
I must have been nuts, but I hadn’t hit a trail all week
while I was in
the suppressing heat; triple digits all week.
The first mile of the trail has several rocky ascents, and I
found myself wondering just what kind of a trail I was in for.
I hiked a couple of particularly rocky sections, but they
were short and followed by zippy downhill runs on hard-packed
singletrack. There are also
rock overhangs on the narrow trail that tall people like me can
actually hit their heads on if they’re not careful!
The trail rolls up and down, with numerous short climbs and
downhills in both directions, meandering through the manzanita
groves alongside the river.
After the first mile, the trail smoothes out considerably,
and becomes fast singletrack through most of the rest of the ride.
At about 0.5 miles, there is a fork in the trail, with the trail to
the left heading out across a pond, and the trail to the right
continuing around them.
Oddly enough, you want the trail across the ponds.
Ignore the several side trails you encounter, and travel
across a gravel turnaround to the trail on the other side.
At 1.3 miles, you pass through a boat launch at
At 2.2 miles, the trail forks, with hikers only allowed on
the fork to the left.
Stay right and follow the bicycle sign.
At 4.8 miles, you’ll reach Dillon Falls Campground.
Stay to the left on the campground road and pass through a
fence into a meadow.
There are two possible trails across the meadow.
One is singletrack (the main trail) which heads around the
meadow. The other is a
small, muddy, but rideable, path through the meadow.
I rode the small path on the way out, and except for a little
mud, it was a nice short cut.
Watch out during “rainy” season.
At 6.6 miles, you’ll pass through another picnic area.
There are lots of jumps/bumps in the path near here, which is
kind of fun. Shift
through some narrow passageways through the rocks, and head up the
hill to the parking area above Benham falls.
Turn around and head on back!
I had a good time on this trail, despite the heat and my
fatigue from the day in the sun.
The trail was very scenic, and there were numerous good spots
to stop and gaze at the river, swim, or picnic.
Don’t let the small elevation gain fool you.
There are ups and downs throughout this trail, and some
sections are a bit technical.
There are no really extended climbs, however, which was fun,
and I only hiked a couple of short runs, none on the way back.
I did manage to crash once descending over some rock steps
cut into the trail. The
trail took around 2 hours to complete, with stops for photos and
seat repair. I had read
that this trail was crowded in the summer, but I had it almost to
myself. Maybe it was
the heat, the fact it was Friday evening and people had better
things to do, or that the Bend Summer Festival was in full swing in
town. Whatever the
reason, the narrow trail would have been interesting if there were a
bunch of people.