This is one of the premier hikes in Oregon for waterfall lovers. The 7.4 mile, 1100 foot elevation gain Tumalo Falls loop hike visits at least three sizeable cascades and as many as a dozen smaller falls that populate the scenic creeks along the way. And it is all highlighted by the iconic 90 foot Tumalo.
From Bend, take Tumalo Avenue west for 10.3 miles. Along the way the road will become Galveston, then Skyliner. Turn right onto gravel road 4603 and drive 2.5 more miles to the large Tumalo Falls parking area.
From the trailhead near the restrooms, climb a short ways to a very popular lower viewpoint of Tumalo Falls. Lighting can be tricky here, so unless it’s an overcast day you may want to return to this spot after the hike to try pictures in full afternoon light.
Continue along the main path and a short distance later, stay right at a junction. The forest here is rather new, recovering from a 1979 forest fire. But the rebirth is coming along swimmingly. After .2 mile you’ll reach the large, railed upper viewpoint of Tumalo. Proceed up the main trail, keeping an eye out for mountain bikers that enjoy this section just as much as hikers. After just under another mile of hiking you’ll arrive at Double Falls, dropping a total of 89 feet.
Over the next 2.5 miles you'll ascend through denser forest and pass a half a dozen falls, many requiring a quick scramble to the creek to get an optimal view. At a junction turn left. You’re now entering the Bridge Creek Watershed, which serves as the main source of drinking water for the city of Bend. So no dogs, no bikes, no camping. The trail also leaves the water here for .3 mile until it reaches a creek crossing with no bridge. Get wet if you like, but a downed tree serves as a fairly stable and safe alternative.
From the creek crossing, enjoy a steady descent for 2.1 miles to a junction. Make a left here and in .4 mile you’ll pass Bridge Creek Falls. Continue the final .9 mile back to the parking area.
For more of Adam's writing, reviews, and photography, visit AdamSawyer.com or follow him on Facebook. His forthcoming guidebook, Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon, published by Falcon Guides, will be available spring 2014.