Central Oregon is full of stunning waterfalls, from mountain run-off, rivers, and lakes. You’ll find plunge waterfalls, river rapid chute falls and everything in between. From drive-up viewpoints to easy and moderate hikes, here are our favorite waterfalls in Bend, Oregon (or close by).
Best Easy Waterfall Hikes near Bend: Benham Falls, Steelhead Falls
Best Accessible Waterfalls near Bend: Sahalie Falls, Paulina Falls
Best Challenging Waterfall Hikes near Bend: Tumalo Falls Loop
Best Waterfall Hikes for Kids: Dillon Falls, Benham Falls, Cline Falls
Bend Oregon Waterfall Hikes
The Central Oregon area is home to endless beauty from rivers, forests, mountains, lakes, and waterfalls. On this list, I’ve included waterfalls that are in Bend, and waterfalls within a 1.5 hour drive of Bend, Oregon.
1. Tumalo Falls
Tumalo Falls is one of the most epic and iconic views in Central Oregon. And the trailhead parking lot (and road-side parking) on a busy summer day will prove my point. This hike is one of the most popular things to do in Bend, for a reason – the biggest bang for your buck with the falls viewable from the road, and the viewpoint being a short walk uphill. Tumalo Falls is a great accessible and easy hike.
Tumalo Falls plunges 97 feet down from Tumalo Creek. Tumalo Creek eventually meets the Deschutes River about 17 miles downstream in, you guessed it, Tumalo! This is where you will find Tumalo State Park. Also not to be confused with Tumalo Mountain which is near Mt Bachelor.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can continue on and do the six mile Tumalo Falls Loop hike.
Trailhead/Parking: Tumalo Falls Trailhead
Driving From Bend: 25 minutes (13 miles)
Trail Length: .6 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 150 feet
More Info: AllTrails (.6 mile) / Oregon Hikers (6.8 mile loop)
2. Dillon Falls
Dillon Falls and Benham Falls can be looped together as one longer hike on the Deschutes River Trail. Or they’re also great spots to visit individually for a burst of nature, close to town! The appeal of Dillon Falls, beyond the proximity to Bend, is watching the wild river and rapids. The power of the water through this section of river is hard to understand in pictures. It’s pretty magnificent! But don’t go expecting a plunge waterfall like Tumalo Falls.
Lava Island Falls is also close, further downstream, and more Deschutes River rapids. But the actual falls called “Lava Island Falls” are off-trail and not easily accessible or viewable.
3. Benham Falls
Both Dillon and Benham Falls are waterfalls IN Bend, and a quick drive from downtown. For Benham Falls, if you park at the west trailhead, it’s just a 2 minute walk to the overlook. But the real beauty of Benham Falls is all the little bends in the river, rapids, and cliff views, between the Benham Falls overlook and the picturesque pedestrian bridge that reaches the east trailhead. So I would recommend doing the 1.5 mile hike! You can also park at the east side trail if you’re coming from Sunriver (this hike makes our list of favorite things to do in Sunriver).
Trailhead/Parking: Benham Falls Trailhead West, Benham Falls Trailhead East
Driving From Bend: 25 minutes (13 miles to west TH, 15 miles to east TH)
Trail Length: 1.5 mile roundtrip to/from East TH
Elevation Gain: 40 feet
More Info: AllTrails (from east trailhead), AllTrails (Dillon Falls to Benham out-and-back)
4. Steelhead Falls
Steelhead Falls is a great option if you’re north of Bend, in the Terrebonne area. While the Terrebonne area is well-known for Smith Rock, you’ll find a great hike and views west of Terrebonne at Steelhead Falls on the Deschutes. It takes longer to drive to Steelhead Falls than it does to hike. But it’s well-worth the visit for the stunning plunge pool falls. Note: this trail has seen a lot of use, and the sandy trail is eroding and can be a bit slippery! So wear good traction shoes. And be aware that this is a very popular hike in the summer months for swimming and cliff jumping into the river. If you go in off-peak times or seasons, you may just have the falls all to yourself and a few fishers.
Trailhead/Parking: Steelhead Falls Trailhead
Driving From Bend: 42 minutes (33 miles)
Trail Length: 1 mile roundtrip to falls
Elevation Gain: 160 feet
More Info: AllTrails (this one continues beyond falls)
5. Tamolitch Blue Pool on the McKensie River Trail
The McKensie River Trail has three well-known waterfalls, and countless small waterfalls, pools, and rapids along the full 24 mile trail. The most popular waterfall hike being Tamolitch Blue Pool – a 4 mile round trip hike. While the big draw here, is the blue pool, the north side of the pool has water cascading down, like a waterfall, depending on the season! This is an easy 4 mile roundtrip hike to the Blue Pool overlook, but it’s a bit of a scramble if you plan to go down to the water area! Note: The water is 38 degrees, even in summer! Please be careful if you plan to put your feet in the water, or swim here. There have been a few deaths in recent years.
Trailhead/Parking: Tamolitch Trailhead McKensie River Trail
Driving From Bend: 72 minutes (64 miles)
Trail Length: 3.6 roundtrip (to viewpoint), 4 down to water
Elevation Gain: 290 feet
More Info: AllTrails
6. Koosah Falls
Koosah & Sahalie Falls make a good combo waterfall hike, as a one mile out and back hike, a three mile loop, or simply visiting either of the viewpoints, close to the parking areas. The out-and-back hike takes the Waterfalls Trail on the east side of the McKensie River, and the loop hike goes out on the Waterfalls Trail and then loops over to the McKensie River Trail. Lots of options to shorten or lengthen this hike! Just south of Clear Lake, these waterfalls are connected along the McKensie River Trail that continues on to Tamolitch Blue Pool and is 24 miles total.
Trailhead/Parking: Koosah Falls Viewpoint Parking
Driving From Bend: 65 minutes (58 miles)
Trail Length: .3 mile viewpoint loop, or 3 miles loop waterfall trail
Elevation Gain: 25 feet, or 360 feet
More Info: AllTrails (1 mile out-and-back)
7. Sahalie Falls
Sahalie Falls is just north of Koosah Falls. If you’re making the stop at one, definitely check out both falls! With parking lots at both falls, these are very accessible without a huge hike.
Trailhead/Parking: Sahalie Falls Viewpoint Parking
Driving From Bend: 65 minutes (58 miles)
Trail Length: 1 mile (out-and-back), or 3 miles loop
Elevation Gain: 141 feet, or 360 feet
More Info: AllTrails (1 mile out-and-back), AllTrails (loop of both falls)
8. Proxy Falls
Proxy Falls is a plunge waterfall in the McKensie Pass area (Hwy 242) between Sisters and Blue River. Portions of this highway are only open in summer, and closed due to snow from November to July. Or you need to take the McKensie River Highway (126). So get to it while you can! This is an easy and gorgeous hike, reminiscent of Ramona Falls in the Mt Hood National Forest. The trail is one way, and first you’ll pass the off-shoot for Lower Falls, and then the Upper Falls. Both falls are gorgeous! And this is also a great spot for fall colors.
While this hike’s mileage is low, I would still rate it a moderate hike. The first half mile is over lava rock, and if you plan to get down to the falls, certain sections of the trail can be a bit of a scramble.
9. Paulina Falls
Paulina Falls near Paulina Lake is a double falls that drop 80 feet! The viewpoint above is an easy walk (.1 mile) from the trailhead parking lot, and if you’re wanting a bit more you can walk down the switchback trail to the base of the falls. This trail is about a half mile round trip and 100′ elevation gain/loss.
Need more hiking? The 6 mile Paulina Peak Trail is the next trailhead over to see the Newberry Caldera from above. Also the Paulina Lakeshore trail takes you on a 7.5mile loop around the lake. Or spend some time at Paulina Lake or East Paulina Lake in the Newberry Caldera.
Other nearby waterfalls between Hwy 97 and Paulina Lake: McKay Falls and the Natural Water Slides, and several other small falls – all part of the Paulina Falls runoff of Paulina Creek! And if you’re looking for another hike near Sunriver, check out Falls River Falls in La Pine.
10. Cline Falls
Cline Falls is a rather rambling Deschutes River falls. It’s a bit more High Desert plains and canyons feeling out here, than on the other side of Bend (Dillon Falls etc), which is more forested. It’s situated between Redmond and Sisters, just off Hwy 126, near Eagle Crest Resort. The Cline Falls hike is a quick walk from the parking area and a fun area to explore. Also a good hike for kids since most of the walk is flat and rambling. Note: if you’re looking for a really dramatic type waterfall hike, this is not your spot!
11. Salt Creek Falls
Salt Creek Falls is a 268 feet, single drop waterfall near Oakridge, Oregon between Odell Lake and Waldo Lake. Salt Creek Falls is a solid hour and half drive from Bend, so just about the furthest that I would still consider as a day trip Bend waterfall hike.
Best Waterfalls in Bend and Central Oregon
In summary, here are our favorite waterfall hikes in Central Oregon.
- Tumalo Falls
- Dillon Falls
- Benham Falls
- Steelhead Falls – Terrebonne
- Tamolitch Blue Pool
- Koosah Falls
- Sahalie Falls
- Proxy Falls
- Paulina Falls
- Cline Falls
- Salt Creek Falls
A quick note about Oregon Hikes vs AllTrails links: Oregon Hikers is the best comprehensive resource for hikes in Oregon. Their descriptions and details are on-point and trust-worthy. I’ve also included some AllTrails, which is more user-generated content, and not always accurate, but is useful in a different way to see more recent conditions or notes people have made about the trail etc.
I hope you enjoyed this look at my favorite waterfalls in Bend, Oregon. Happy waterfall chasing! And please remember to take care of nature: Leave no trace. Pack it in, pack it out. Peace, love, and waterfalls. Want more hiking ideas? Here are my 15 favorite waterfall hikes near Portland and essential winter hiking gear checklist!