As you may be able to tell by my other “The Great Outdoors” write-ups, I have a passion for the many waterfalls within our beautiful state. Discovering new waterfalls for our family to explore is one of my favorite things to do. So it came as no surprise when my one request for Mother’s Day was to visit a new waterfall, one we had never been to before. My how times have changed! Mother’s Day for this girl used to consist of brunch and mimosas, and now it’s all about hiking and exploring.
Since we were faced with a less than ideal weather forecast, we decided to stick close to Bend. Steelhead Falls was the answer! Located roughly 45 minutes outside of Bend in Terrebonne and nestled within the sprawling community of Crooked River Ranch. This waterfall on the Deschutes River is an easy, family-friendly half mile hike from the trailhead to the picturesque cascading waterfall. Once you turn off 97 just past the little town of Terrebonne, the directions to Steelhead Falls are clearly marked, although your GPS should get you there easily.
This is also a popular fishing spot, so don’t let the number of cars in the parking lot fool you. The route to Steelhead Falls is a dusty trail so be sure to keep an eye on the little ones. There are quite a few areas along the trail where the ground isn’t as stable. Not too far from the trailhead, there is a viewpoint of the surrounding canyon. If you need to access your phone, this is where to do it. Once you go past the viewpoint, there is no cell service.
The hike down to the falls is a fairly easy one. On the way back to the car, you’ll get a bit of a workout making your way back up the canyon. Nothing too strenuous though. I didn’t hear any griping from my kiddos, and this is how I rate the “kid-friendliness” of all our hikes.
The path takes you downstream and to the backside of the falls, once you round the corner, you will see the wide magnificent 20ft. drop that is Steelhead Falls.
There are a few good spots to sit on large, flat boulders to enjoy the view. With the primo spot being the one closest to the falls. This couple had the right idea with a picnic date! Guys, want some added points in the romance department? Pack up a blanket, some snacks and a bottle of wine and you are sure to knock her off her feet!
It is also a fun idea to pack a family picnic and enjoy it overlooking Steelhead Falls and the river. Just don’t forget the blanket, as there are no picnic tables to be found at the falls, near the parking lot or along the trails.
With warmer weather just ahead, be sure to bring your swimsuit for a refreshing (yet chilly) swim at the base of the falls. This is one of the only true “swimming holes” on the Deschutes! There are several areas where you can walk down to the edge of the river to get your feet wet. For the more adventurous at heart, I’ve heard this is a popular spot for cliff jumping. Although, I must insert a disclaimer here that it is not advisable unless you have researched the depth below and know exactly what you are jumping into. Be sure to check back soon for our next waterfall adventure that’s planned in the coming weeks. We hope to see you out on the trails…Living the Bend Life!