Tumalo Falls is a Popular Visitor Attraction
Tumalo Falls has always been a destination for people visiting Central Oregon. The short drive out of Bend followed by a short walk can give tourists the opportunity to see a beautiful local waterfall and the location of roughly 1/2 of Bend's water supply. Most people stop at either the base of the falls, or will climb the 1/4 mile up to the overlook at the top of the falls. But there is a fabulous trail upstream along Tumalo Creek that takes hikers past several beautiful waterfalls and eventually leads to Happy Valley meadow in which a merger of several trails and roads provide for miles of opportunities to recreate using the Tumalo Trail System.
It has been seven years since we last hiked to Tumalo Falls. That last time the road to the falls was closed due to the piping project for the the city of Bend in the Bridge Creek watershed. At that time we parked at Skyliner's Trailhead and hiked around to Tumalo Falls and then hiked up Bridge Creek, eventually joining with the main North Fork Trail just south of Happy Valley returning down the main trail and eventually back to our car. During that trip we saw almost no one.
It was very different September 26, 2020. Parking along the road was crowded and rather than hike the normal way up the North Fork Trail, we decided to take the loop around using the Farewell Trail which starts on the east side of the Falls and switchbacks up the hill bordering Tumalo Falls on the east, eventually joining with Mrazek Trail, then to Metolius-Windego Trail and then in Happy Valley, connecting with the North Fork Trail; the whole hike was slightly more than 10 miles and gave us a much different perspective of the area.
Unlike our last experience seven years ago, however, we were very surprised at how busy the trail was - not with hikers, but with mountain bikers. During our 10 mile loop, we stepped aside multiple times as mountain bikers passed by. We estimate we saw over 100 bikers that day and obviously during the summer season, there must be many, many more that will ride over these trails. The Tumalo Trail System borders the Three Sisters Wilderness where bicycles are not allowed and the system is extremely extensive and must be well enjoyed by the mountain bike community in Central Oregon.
Original blog can be read at Bend Premier Real Estate.