Lifepoints Adventure Guides are brought to you by the Picky Bars Crew, Athletes, and extended “Family” because we know that the best way to see a new place is with the help of a local. A quick hit of the favorite trails, secret spots*, and refueling venues that need to be “must-sees” for your visit. Think of it as our go-to itinerary if you came to town and we had one day to show you around.
Look for a full lineup of hometowns/cities to drop as the weeks roll on, and maybe keep a couple weekends open for spontaneous adventures...? Plus, at the wrap of the tour we'll have a fun spin on our past Adventure Grants where one lucky winner will get to live out one of the city guides in person!
To kick it off, our hometown playground of Bend, Oregon!
* To protect their identity, we've omitted some our most secret hidden gems.
You'll have to track us down in person for that beta...
It’s no secret that Bend is an outdoor lover’s paradise. With miles and miles of fun for all sorts of recreating, every type of body of water you could hope to dip your toes in, and no shortage of good beer to wash it all down with, there’s something for everybody - the only limit is how much time (and energy!) you’ve got.
With nearby mountains, a river running right through town, and a culture that prizes the gear attached to the racks more than the car toting them, it’s an endless playground for folks who love to be outside. At just below 4,000’ elevation in town and a high desert climate, the weather is sunny and dry and won’t knock you on your butt too badly from oxygen depletion. (Of course there are plenty of options to get into the thin air if you want!) A bustling yet neighborly town holds all the craft beer and good food your sweaty self could dream of, and plenty of options to chill and recover before your next adventure. The people might be the only thing in Bend nicer than the views!
Here are some of our top picks for active folks planning to visit this little mountain town we’re lucky to call home. Consider it your Picky-guided tour of Bend - from quick laps to all-day excursions and all the fueling to get you through it.
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⭑ Green Lakes (Run/Hike, 14 miles total, moderate)
Trailhead Info ($5 day pass or NW Forest Pass Required)
Runnable with a modest amount of fitness but equally rewarding as a hike (and the option for a shorter but still worthwhile out-and-back), the Green Lakes trail takes you up a gradual climb on singletrack flanked by thick trees and a waterfall-sprinkled river along the base of South Sister. At the far end of the lollipop loop you’re rewarded with incredible views of the Cascades and a medley of alpine lakes.
Pro tip: Stick a sandwich (we like Nancy P’s) in your pack for a scenic lunch at the lakes midway, or pop over to neighboring Sparks or Devils after.
⭑Skyliners Rd (Road ride, 22 miles)
This is a great out and back ride to get done super quick. Starting from Drake Park in town head west on Galveston St, past the school and Phil's MTB trails and watch as the houses turn to pines and smooth pavement. Climb to the dead end at Tumalo Creek (time for a snack?) then enjoy the coast back down to town. Popular also for time trial training.
⭑ Shevlin Park Loop (Run 4.5 miles, easy, Strava Activity)
Picturesque, typically not crowded, and plenty of free parking and bathrooms. Easy non-technical trail with a few short hills to spike your HR. Fun Fact: The Shevlin Hixon covered bridge was built to film a scene in Homeward Bound - catch it before it's torn down this summer! (sad face)
⭑ Black Crater (Hike, 7 miles round trip, 2,355ft elevation gain)
Trailhead Info(Open March - October, no fee.)
Begins with a steep climb then moderates and continues through thick forest of hemlock on the north side of the crater. The summit is a rocky outcropping and offers amazing panoramic views of the mountains. Kelli our graphic designer recommends doing this hike for sunrise ("absolutely gorgeous!").
⭑ McKenzie Pass (Road ride, 28mi one-way to summit from SHS / 71mi total for summit loop)
A short 40 minute drive over to Sisters (park at Sisters High School on the weekends) or worth the extra mileage if you are up for a big loop out of Bend. "McKenzie Pass is hands down my favorite ride. Views of the Three Sisters mountain range at the top of the pass are stunning and going down the other side is dense forest and in complete contrast to the climb up through lava beds and scorched earth from recent fires." - Nadine, Marketing Director
Pro tip: If you find yourself in town in May when they open the pass to cyclists (closed to cars) while they clear the road after winter, it’s even more amazing. Eurosports posts regular pass updates here.
Pro Tip #2: Summer riding is hot, bring plenty of water as there is no water on the pass itself.
⭑ Dillon Falls to Benham Falls, Upper River Trail(Run, 6+ miles RT, easy-moderate)
Trailhead Info ($5 day pass or NW Forest Pass Required)
Fall to fall the river flows slow and steady along a soft rolling 3 miles (give or take 1/4 mile) of dirt. Between open grassy shores to pine tree shaded rock ledges - you can pick your preferred method for a mid run splish or splash. Add some relaxed miles (and shorten your drive!) by parking at Meadow Camp - the trail gets pretty heavily trafficked the further south and closer to the falls you get.
Pro Tip: Keep your eyes peeled for a rope swing hiding in the trees.
Between these nearly-neighbors you can fuel up with whatever culinary delight your taste buds and twitchy legs prefer. From a burger and fries from Sunriver, a pizza at 10 Barrel's original location, or pasta from Bro Jo's, you'll go to sleep dreaming of miles, not your next meal.
Pro Tip: Expect a wait during peak season! Grab a beer and enjoy the patio and/or people watching.
Nancy's got you covered with well-wrapped, trail-ready sandwiches to accompany a day on the trails, in/on the water, or on top of a peak. Plus a case full of baked goods, breakfast options (homemade savory pockets *drool face emoji*), and tons of bread options.
Their Ocean Rolls have an almost cult following around town (Chai and Catch Me is loosely inspired by one!) but you’d be amiss to not take a fork to one of their savory pastries, breakfast sandwiches, or lavender lattes.
You want an off-the-wall 'burrito', the best coffee mug of clam chowder you've ever had, and a brew to wash it down? There's only one place in town for that. Plenty of protein options and customizability at this local fast-casual joint. Have a seat in the westside location's window and enjoy a game of "Subie Circle" while you chow.
Pro Tip: $1 PBR tall boys all day every day. Just sayin.
There’s usually a few other spandexers out in the biergarten and it’s so nice to sit outside and have a beer after a long ride. Order food inside or bring some with you (outside food is allowed on the lawn) if it’s a post ride drink’n’eat.
This local legend's spin on 'happy hour' is guided by the sun - literally. Beer and appetizer specials are available every day (yes, even the weekends) during Sundowner Hour, which is 30 minutes before and after sunset. Conveniently, said sunset happens behind one of the best views of the Cascades in town. *chef's kiss*
Pro Tip: Watch out for flying soccer balls, cornhole bags, toddlers, and doggos in the lawn. Related, feel free to bring any of those things to play with while you sip & take in the view.
Picky Bars believes, at its core, in a healthy, positive relationship with food. That the best plan is the one that works for YOU, that you can stick to.