When the sun sets on Meadow Camp, the light is so soft you feel as though you could melt right into it. But don’t, because it’s about to get bloody cold out. Early autumn is gorgeous in the high desert, but when the sun goes down, the extra layers come on. In the meantime, however, you’ll find 600 acres of leash-free trails, including the Upper Deschutes River Trail from Meadow Camp downstream to the Entrada Lodge.
Photo, left, courtesy of Marisa Chappell Photography.
Just off the Cascade Lakes Highway in Central Oregon, this trail system – known as Good Dog! – offers the unbound beast in your dog (and in you) hours of exploring, romping, and running amuck.
Stop along the river for a picnic next to the Deschutes River as it flows downstream through the canyon, into the city of Bend, and beyond. Use caution though: there are some risky (albeit spectacular) untamed rapids along this trail and high cliffs that your dog should strictly avoid.
Follow this trail upstream instead and, if you go far enough (~10 miles), you’ll pass three waterfalls – Lava Island, Dillon, and Benham Falls – before arriving in Sunriver. Your dog can be off-leash upstream of Meadow Camp only between September 15 and May 15. The Good Dog! trail system is “unleashed” year ‘round.
For more information on leash-free areas for dogs in Central Oregon, go to www.dogpac.org. DogPAC is a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping Central Oregon dog-friendly and providing off-leash opportunities in city parks and on forest trails.
Good Dog! River Trail Vital Stats
Distance: 2-¼ miles
Easy Hike: 1 hour
Water Available: Deschutes River, calm water only
Best Seasons: Spring and Fall
Trailhead Elevation: 3,855 feet
From Bend: 7 miles southwest on the Cascade Lakes Highway
The Trailhead: From Bend, take SW Century Drive. About one mile past the Entrada Lodge, look for NF Road #4600-100 – a dirt road just before Widgi Creek Golf Course. Turn left and follow the signs approximately 1.3 miles to the parking area.
Northwest Forest Pass required.
Pippin’s Rules to Live By
Play often, sniff everything, and expect something good to happen.