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Tumalo Falls Loop Hike: Bend's premier hike for waterfall lovers

The 90-foot Tumalo Falls
The 90-foot Tumalo Falls
Adam Sawyer

This is one of the premier hikes in Oregon for waterfall lovers. At least three sizable cascades and as many as a dozen smaller falls populate the scenic creeks along the way. And it is all highlighted by the massive 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 way 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, having recovered from a 1979 forest fire. But the rebirth is coming along swimmingly. After 0.2 mile you’ll reach the large, railed upper viewpoint
of Tumalo. Proceed up the main trail, keeping an eye out for mountain bikers, who 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.

The next 2.5 miles ascends through denser forest and passes 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 0.3 mile until the trail 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 0.4 mile you’ll pass Bridge Creek Falls. Continue the final 0.9 mile back to the parking area.