So you are looking for someplace to hike in the Bend and Central Oregon area that doesn’t put you by a lake or river? But at the same time you want to explore and see an area that has a long volcanic history?

Well, the Ancient Juniper Trail located in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness just might be the hike for you. So grab your CamelBak, other Hydration Pack or Hydro Flask, check out these hiking tips, and get ready for a beautiful hike!

The Ancient Juniper Trail is located in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness east of Bend, to get to the trailhead drive east on Highway 20 out of Bend toward Burns, and then look for the 16 mile post marker. The Ancient Juniper Trail is located at the parking area for the Flatiron Rock trailhead, and it has a nice sign on Highway 20 pointing the way.

Oregon Badlands Wilderness Photo Gallery

View photo gallery of the Oregon Badlands Wilderness.

There is a nice sized parking area, and you will see small signs directing you to the actual trailhead. Many online articles I read suggested that you pick up a map of the area at the trailhead, but the day I hiked the trail there were none. I suggest you print out the map from the BLM’s website instead. You can find a PDF of that map by clicking here.

When you get to the trailhead you will see a sign pointing to the Ancient Juniper Trail to the left, and the Flatiron Rock Trail to the right. While researching this hike I went to another website where the writer strongly suggested going to the right here because the Ancient Juniper Trial can be like walking along a dry sandy beach. However if you hike it during the winter and early spring the trail is more packed down and not as hard to hike. In fact, I recommend this as a winter or spring hike as the area can be a little hot to hike in on a hot sunny day due to the lack of tall fir and pine trees in the area like you will find on trails in the Cascades.

The Ancient Juniper Trail is mostly topographically flat, but there is a little elevation gain and loss along the way, and while hiking the trail you will see ancient Juniper trees, some of which may be almost 1,000 years old, sagebrush, and many igneous outcrops. The Ancient Juniper Trail is about 1.9 miles long, but the trail connects with the Flatiron Rock Trail which allows you to hike a loop of about 3.25 miles. To make the loop turn right on the Flatiron Rock Trail to return the the trailhead.

The area provides hikers with plenty of solitude, and you will find few trail signs or markers in the area, but you will see a number of user-created trails which do not appear on maps of the area. Because there are not a lot of signs and trail markers, getting around can be challenging and visitors should be competent in land navigation skills, and have a map of the area, a compass or GPS unit, or preferably all three.

The Oregon Badlands Wilderness is home to a large variety of wildlife, including black-tailed jackrabbit, mule deer, elk, pronghorn, cottontail rabbit, coyote, bats and six species of lizard. More than 100 species of bird live in the area, including golden eagle, sage grouse, and prairie falcon. If you are lucky you will see some of them while hiking the trail.

Bring lots of water!! Please remember that this hike has less protection from the sun than many of the other hikes in Central Oregon, and it is warmer in that area than along a river or lake, so bring lots of water for this hike especially during the summer!

Directions: Trailhead access is located at the Flatiron Trailhead, 16 miles east of Bend, Oregon on State Highway 20. You will see a sign on the left side of the road for the Flatiron Rock Trail which is to the left of the highway.

Please note: The Northwest Forest Pass is required at some trailheads on National Forests in Oregon and Washington. However at this time a permit is not needed to park in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness. These passes are distinct from the wilderness permits. Go to the Recreation Passes & Permits page for more information on the Northwest Forest Pass, including cost and how to get a pass.

Ancient Juniper Trail