Here are some of our favorite off-leash summer trails in Central Oregon. Click the Google map below for more info on each (map is still in development). We also recommend the map in the DogPAC brochure — available at local pet shops, at Bend Park and Recreation District headquarters, or at kiosks in the off-leash areas. The "adventure map" is available in local bike and outdoor stores and is a great resource for running and biking trails, as well as XC ski trails. That map is not always accurate about leash regulations.
Your Dog's Health / Your Dog's Poop
Summer heat can cause dogs to overheat, especially if you're running or mountain biking. Be sure to provide "cool down" breaks and access to water for drinking/swimming. Check out Meredith's heatstroke tips. There are also other hazards — from cheatgrass to coyotes. Both humans and pooches love being on the trails, but keep your dog's health in mind.
Leaving poop on or alongside trails is inconsiderate and damaging to our cause. Be sure to keep trails poop-free. Dogs often poop near the trailhead, so have a bag handy and keep a close eye on your pooch when he gets out of the car. DogPAC provides poop dispensers and trash cans at the Good Dog! area and at the Phil's trailhead parking lot. Elsewhere, please pack out the poop (zip-locs help seal the smell). Alternatively, bury the poop in a cathole. With a trowel to dig and bark/sticks/rocks for pushing poop into the hole, it's easy!
Deschutes National Forest
The Deschutes National Forest has leash restrictions on more miles of summer trails than any other national forest in Oregon. We're working to change that. Currently, dogs are not allowed off-leash:
In developed sites, such as parking areas and campgrounds.
Between May 15 and September 15 on the Deschutes River Trail between Benham Falls and Meadow Camp.
Between July 15 and September 15 on trails in the Three Sisters Wilderness between South Sister Climbers Trail and Todd Lake.
Shevlin and the River Trail upstream from Bend to the footbridge above the Southern Crossing are Bend Park and Recreation areas, and dogs are not allowed off-leash on those trails.
Dogs ARE allowed off-leash while playing "river fetch" in the national forest, even along restricted trails.
Remember that many Forest Service parking areas require the Northwest Forest Pass or day pass. Specific trail information below.
Tumalo Falls/ North Fork
RimRock (Good Dog!)
From Bend, on right along Cascade Lakes Hwy (marked by small sign on left of hwy). Leash restrictions July 15 to Sept. 15. Trail often blocked by snow and downed trees until sometime in July. Picture of main Green Lake with South Sister in background. Video from mid-Sept 2011, Green Lakes in 1st half. Watch Video
Tumalo Falls / North Fork
Great hiking fairly close to town. The "dogs on leash" sign applies only to the parking lot, but please keep leashes on until you're past the viewpoint for the falls (that short stretch is very popular). Follow the North Fork trail along the creek above the falls. Watch Video
Take Conklin / 41 from Century Drive. Leash restrictions May 15 to Sept 15. Dogs allowed off-leash in water at all times. Photo taken at popular river fetch spot about 1/4 mile upstream.
Off Century Drive, before Widgi. Leash restrictions May 15 to Sept 15 upstream and first quarter mile downstream. Dogs allowed off-leash in water at all times.
RimRock (Good Dog!)
Off-leash year round. DogPAC provides poop bag dispensers and trash cans at the "upper" parking area shown in map below. Many trails -- some official (green in map), many unofficial (tan, unmarked on ground). Watch Video
Dogs are allowed on most mountain bike trails on the national forest. We ask both dog owners and mountain bikers to be courteous and considerate of other trail users. For safety, avoid busy trails and move off the trail with your dog when a mountain bike approaches.
RimRock (Good Dog!) Trails
An informal and popular location for dog walking. There's a network of trails and dirt roads, and the river is accessible if you walk/run/bike in a ways (to the south). The portion to the east (toward Entrada Lodge) is open and can get hot in the summer; the portion to the west (toward Widgi Creek and Meadow Camp) has more tree cover. There is cheatgrass along some trails in this area.
Getting there: Drive west on Century Drive. After you pass Entrada Lodge on your left, look for the brown Forest Service recreation fee sign on your right. Take the small turn-off on your left Immediately across the highway from that sign. The Forest Service closed off most of the parking there with boulders and gates.
Deschutes River Trail
The River Trail is great near-town quality hiking — and it follows the river, so dogs have opportunities to drink and swim. Dogs must be on leash between May 15 and September 15 in the orange hatched area in the map below. Dogs may be off leash when in the water, so you can play "river fetch" at any point on the river trail — but be aware of logs and rocks below the surface. The leash regulation ends about a quarter mile downstream of the Meadow parking area (about where people climb).
Getting there:There are multiple access points. To get to Meadow Camp, take Century Drive out of town and look for the Forest Service (brown with white lettering) sign for Meadow Picnic Area. It's just before Widgi Creek golf course. Take a left and drive the short distance on the dirt road. To get to other areas, take Century Drive out of town. After you pass Seventh Mountain Resort (Inn of the 7th), look for the turn-off on your left (Conklin Road/41 Road). Turn-offs for the various parking areas are signed along Conklin Rd.
You’ll find a rugged beauty in Oregon’s Badlands, dry and prickly with ancient juniper and volcanic ridges. Fifty miles of trails wind through 29,000 acres, 16 miles east of Bend on Highway 20. You’ll encounter hikers, horseback riders and wildlife in the Badlands, so make sure your dog is in your control at all times. Trails of note include Badlands Rock Trail, Flatiron Rock Trail, and Tumulus Trail. These are spring, fall and winter trails as summertime brings hot sandy soil that burns our dog's feet.
Getting there: Take Highway 20 East to Flatiron Rock Trailhead on the north side of the highway.
Three Sisters Wilderness
The Three Sisters Wilderness provides awesome hiking relatively close to Bend. Many of the trails are scenic and with good water access.Getting there: Take Century Drive out of town until you get to your favorite trail or lake. Unfortunately, many trails are also leash restricted during the peak season (see the DogPAC brochure for a map of restricted trails). Thanks to DogPAC's efforts, the Broken Top Trail up to the tarn (small lake northeast of Broken Top) is now off-leash legal. The Broken Top Trail to Green Lakes remains leash-restricted. Some notes on the Broken Top "Tarn Trail", and check out this PDF with pics from Broken Top.
great trail with amazing views
very rough road (370, then 380) to access the trailhead
exposed alpine environment, so be prepared for changeable weather
the Tarn Trail branches to the right of the main trail near a wilderness sign approx. 10 minutes in from the trailhead — the branch is unmarked, but easy to see if you're looking for it
there are dry stretches, but in decent snow years there are enough snow patches and streams to keep pooches cool
the trail can be difficult to follow over snow patches, so best to go with someone who knows the trail
the end of the trail (the ridge beyond the tarn) has a very steep drop with no barrier, so have your dog on a leash or otherwise under close control at that point
the signs still say that leashes are required, and not all rangers have "gotten the memo;" if a ranger tells you leashes are required on the Tarn Trail, direct them to Marv (Lang) or Chris (Sabo) for current info.