img_4786So 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 Badlands Rock 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 hike to Badlands Rock is a fairly easy hike of about six miles round-trip with and elevation gain/loss of about 75 feet to a large rock outcrop with 360-degree views of Central Oregon.The trail is fairly easy to follow, but you will come to a couple junctions where you will continue in the direction you have been going, instead of turning right or left onto any of them. There are signs, but they are not in the best of shape and are hard to read at times, but like I said, the trail is pretty easy to follow.

Badlands Rock Trail Photo Gallery

View photo gallery of the Badlands Rock Trail in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness.

The Badlands Rock Trail can be a hot dusty hike during the summer, so if you go during the summer make sure you take plenty of water. During the winter when the weather is good is probably the best time to hike this trail, but it can get cold and windy so make sure you have proper clothing for a winter hike.

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.

The Oregon Badlands Wilderness area is mostly topographically flat, and is known for abundance of ancient Juniper trees, sagebrush, and igneous outcrops. 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 compass or GPS unit, or preferably both.

The fact that trail markers are sometimes hard to find is one reasons why many people like to explore the Oregon Badlands Wilderness. If you want, you can wander through the open sage country and pretty much explore the area as you want. However like I said, getting around can be challenging and visitors should be competent in land navigation skills, and have a compass or GPS unit, or preferably both.

The Oregon Badlands wilderness area is situated on high desert terrain and is associated with an ancient volcanic rootless shield, which issued lava from a rootless vent. The lava flow dates back to about 80,000 years, and in originates from a main vent further up the slopes of the Newberry Volcano. This main vent was located near Lava Top Butte, and the lava that issued out of this vent traveled through the Arnold Lava Tube System to arrive at the Badlands.

An irregularly-shaped pit crater at the top of the shield marks the site where lava flowed in all directions to create the Badlands, and lava tubes acted as conduits for the lava and are evidenced on the surface by tumuli, also known as pressure ridges. The sandy soils in the Badlands were mostly formed from ash associated with the eruption of 2500 years ago of Mount Mazama. Mt. Mazama’s collapsed caldera holds Crater Lake, which is a popular tourist area in Oregon.

Vegetation in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness over time has adapted to the less than 12 inches of annual rainfall, and western juniper which are abundant in the area can live to be over 1,000 years old. In fact, the oldest dated tree in Oregon, estimated to be over 1,600 years old, grows near the Oregon Badlands wilderness.

Along with the western juniper, other plants found in the Oregon Badlands wilderness include big sagebrush, rabbitbrush, and various bunchgrasses, including Idaho fescue and bluebunch wheatgrass. In the spring, the area blooms with a variety of wildflowers, including Oregon sunshine, dwarf monkeyflower, sulfur buckwheat, indian paintbrush, and mariposa lily.

What: Badlands Rock Trail, about 6 miles round-trip, for a BLM PDF of the Badlands Wilderness click here.

Getting there: Drive east of Bend on U.S. Highway 20 for 18 miles; turn left at a large gravel pile. Head straight down the paved road and follow signs for Badlands Rock Trail. After about a mile, you’ll find parking at the trailhead. Park at the Bureau of Land Management kiosk and from there you will hike about 3 miles north to Badlands Rock.

Cost: Free

Contact: 541-416-6700 or check out the Oregon Badlands Wilderness Area’s official website.

Map of the Badlands Rock Trail