Top Trail Towns: Bend, OregonBend's Got the Big Guns
Photo by Glenn Tachiyama
The Bend running scene is, in a word, “Competitive.” That’s according to 29-year-old Stephanie Howe, a runner, coach and instructor at Central Oregon Community College and Oregon State University. “Not only are there dozens of elites living here, but also everyone is an endurance athlete of some sort,” she says. “This is one of the only places where the high-school cross-country team outnumbers the football team! It is our culture.” In addition to Howe, trail elites residing in the area include Max King, Rod Bien, Mario Mendoza and Jeff Browning.
Named for a bend in the Deschutes River that once made a good crossing point for westward explorers, the region was first a home for Native Americans and second a site for multiple timber mills in the early 20th century. Today, the economy is largely tourism- and recreation-based.
It’s easy to see why trail runners are attracted to 76,000-person Bend. From its proximity to the eastern edge of the Cascade Range’s high-altitude playground, to the town’s mild climate that keeps the low-elevation trails runnable all year, to an insane singletrack network that begins in the city and connects all the way to the high country, to a robust trail-racing schedule, to a river running through town that can be fished and floated, to an evolved craft-brewing culture, Bend’s got the big guns for the good life.
> GET THERE / The clos est airport is the Redmond municipal airport about 17 miles northeast of Bend. Alternatively, it’s a three-hour- fifteen-minute drive from the Portland International Airport. Bend is served by Greyhound, and you can rent a car in town.
> BE A TOURIST / Bend proper has a remarkable nine craft-beer breweries, and they are all a part of the bend ale Trail. Join an ale-trail tour or go independent (and with a DD), but don’t miss Bend’s other best trail.
> TAKE NOTE / While it does snow in town, very little sticks for more than a few days, making trail running in and near bend possible all year. But in winter, snow stacks high in the mountains, and they become winter-sports destinations.
BY THE NUMBERS
3623 Elevation, in feet, of Bend, located on the east side of the Cascade Range and along the Deschutes River’s south-to-north wending path.
11.7 Inches of precipitation that bend’s high-desert climate yields annually.
10,000 Elevation, in feet, of the Three Sisters, the prominent peaks in bend’s western viewscape.