frtrailSo 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 Flatiron 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 Flatiron Rock Trail is located in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness east of Bend. To get to the Flatiron Rock trailhead drive east on Highway 20 out of Bend toward Burns, and then look for the 16 mile post marker. The entrance to the trailhead will be on the left, and there is a nice sign pointing the way.

Flatiron Rock Trail Photo Gallery

View photo gallery of the Flatiron Rock Trail in 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.

When I hiked the Flatiron Rock Trail I decided to try the Ancient Juniper Trail when I was returning to the trailhead, and I too make the same suggestion. If you zoom in and look closely at the GPS track below you can see where I turned right at the Ancient Juniper Trail, and decided very quickly that I didn’t want to do that. I walked just a short distance on the Ancient Juniper Trail and I could tell it would be much harder, so I crossed back to the Flatiron Rock Trail. Of course if I was younger and had stronger legs it might not have mattered, so the decision is up to you.

The Flatiron Rock Trail is mostly topographically flat, and while hiking the trail you will see ancient Juniper trees, sagebrush, and many 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 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.

When I hiked the trail I was short on time, and I didn’t actually hike all the way to Flatiron Rock, so remember the GPS track shown below is not one of the complete hike. I do plan on going back to the area soon and hiking the whole trail as I am told the views are fantastic.

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!

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.

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.

Flatiron Rock Trail

Below is a GPS map of a hike that only took me about 1/2 way to Flatiron Rock. It was done before my surgery to replace both hips, but I plan on doing the full hike early in 2016.


View Flatiron Rock Trail in a larger map