Central Oregon is full of plenty of beautiful hikes, and a surprising amount of those hikes have a waterfall at the end (or at the beginning!) If you are in the area and wonder “what are the best waterfalls near me?” – here are our tips for our favorite Bend, Oregon waterfalls that you can hike or drive to.

Click the links below to skip to any of the following sections:

Chush Falls
Whychus Falls
Tumalo Falls
Sahalie Falls
Tamolitch Blue Pool
Lava Island Falls
Dillon Falls
Big Eddy

Waterfalls in Oregon

No matter what waterfall (or waterfalls) you are visiting, Oregon is a beautiful destination for hikers and non-hikers alike. Central Oregon and Bend have so many waterfalls within a few minutes from the city, but if you find yourself in other parts of Oregon, here are some great hikes and waterfalls in the Mount Hood area.

Chush Falls

Total Hiking Distance to Chush Falls: 5 miles roundtrip

Chush Falls is a waterfall you will see in countless magazines and ads about Central Oregon and Bend, Oregon, because it’s beautiful and pretty easy to get to.

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Chush Fall is incredibly easy to access from the trail, and even though it’s popular, it’s never too popular to get some amazing photos.

Chush Falls Trailhead

The Chush Falls Trailhead was closed long ago due to fires. But you can still get pretty close, it’s just more difficult these days (and takes a little longer).

To get to the trail:

  • Travel to Sisters, Oregon
  • From Highway 242, turn south onto Forest Service Road 16, which will be signed for Three Creek Lake (according to the
  • Northwest Waterfall Survey, you should not follow FR 15, which is signed for Squaw Creek, west of town).
  • Travel on FR 16 for 7 miles
  • Turn right onto FR 1514
  • Travel for 5 more miles until you reach FR 1514-600
  • Before crossing Whychus Creek, you will take a left and travel another mile.
  • You will follow this road for two more miles until you reach a T-junction
  • Take a left and you will reach the trailhead in another 0.5 miles
  • From there, the trail is easy to traverse all the way to the falls.

The hike to Chush Falls

This trail to Chush Falls is located in the Three Sisters Wilderness, which means you will need a day permit to get in and out. Both mountain bikes and motorized vehicles of any kind are prohibited on the trail.

Your hike to Chush Falls will parallel Whychus Creek, and is an easy hike at around five miles roundtrip.

Whychus Falls

Total Hiking Distance to Whychus Falls: 5.8 miles roundtrip

I first found Whychus Falls on our first visit to Chush Falls. The trailhead of Chush Falls was not easy to find, and when looking for it, we ended up parking in the wrong place and ended up taking a very different hike (basically through the forest).

We found ourselves at Whychus Falls before making it to Chush Falls, which is a beautiful waterfall (and much larger than Chush Falls). It is also very close to Chush Falls, so even if you take the Chush Falls trail, you can still see Whychus Falls while you are there.

Whychus Falls Trailhead

To get to the Whychus Falls Trailhead from Sisters:

  • Take Road 16 south for 7 miles
  • Turn right on FR 1514, and continue nearly 5 miles
  • Turn left on FR 600
  • Continue two miles
  • Turn left on FR 680

You will find the trailhead about a quarter-mile down the road.

The hike to Whychus Falls Trail

The Whychus Falls trail is a 5.8 mile (roundtrip) trail, and is a fairly easy hike for hikers of all skill levels, with an elevation gain of 800 feet.

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While there are different trailheads for Whychus Falls and Chush Falls, we would suggest seeing both the same day as they are not very far apart. Choose which trailhead and which hike you’d prefer, and plan to see both.

Tumalo Falls

Total Hiking Distance to Tumalo Falls: 7 miles roundtrip — although you can also drive up very close to the falls

Tumalo Falls is one of the most accessible waterfalls in Central Oregon because it’s only a few minutes outside of Bend, and you can drive nearly the entire way there. However, you can also hike and for at least half the year, the road to drive into Tumalo Falls is closed so you will have to walk if you want to see it.

Tumalo Falls Trailhead

You can find the trailhead to Tumalo Falls at the Skyliner Sno-Park. It is easy to find and has plenty of parking. Because Tumalo Falls is so accessible, just know that the trail and waterfall itself are completely packed for much of summer.

Tumalo Falls Trail

The Tumalo Creek Trail to Tumalo Falls is a seven-mile roundtrip hike that is open to all skill levels. It is fairly flat, with an elevation gain of 616 feet. You can choose to walk the trail there and back, or you can take a loop.

Drive to Tumalo Falls

Even though many people enjoy the Tumalo Trail hike, you can also drive there. Because of this, it makes it a great waterfall to take out-of-towners for some sightseeing. To take the drive:

  • Take NW Galveston Ave. out of Bend, which will turn into Skyliners Road
  • After nearly 9 miles, take a slight right onto Tumalo Falls Road
  • After 0.1 miles, turn right onto Bearwallow Road
  • In 0.8 miles, turn left onto NF 4601
  • Stay on NF 4601 for 3 miles
  • Take a right, stay on that road for 0.4 miles
  • Take a left, and stay on that road for 2.6 miles
  • Turn right onto Bearwallow Road
  • Take a right onto Tumalo Falls Road

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Just note that the last few miles are very rough and gravelly, but any car should be able to make the trip.

Sahalie Falls

Total Hiking Distance to Sahalie Falls: 0 miles – Sahalie Falls is located right at the trailhead

Sahalie Falls is a beautiful and accessible waterfall in Central Oregon, a little further outside of town than Tumalo Falls. It is located off Highway 126, only a few miles from Tamolitch Blue Pool. Many people will see Sahalie Falls and Tamolitch Blue Pool on the same day, even though the trailhead is the less popular hike of the two possible hikes.

Sahalie Falls Trailhead

Sahalie Falls is actually right off the road, so there is no necessarily a trailhead. To get there:

  • Take Highway 20 west out of Bend
  • There will be a Y in the road, where you can choose between Eugene or Corvallis/Salem
  • Take the Eugene Y toward the left (McKenzie Highway)
  • Follow the McKenzie Highway for 5 miles
  • You will see signs for Sahalie Falls on the right side of the road

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Sahalie Falls is a beautiful waterfall you can enjoy from the man-made wooden trail down. You can also climb down a small hill to get closer to the falls.

Tamolitch Blue Pool

Total Hiking Distance to Tamolitch Blue Pool: 4 miles roundtrip

Although the waterfall at Tamolitch Blue Pool only flows for a few months of the year, the hike is still well-worth the trip any time. If you are visiting Sahalie Falls, the Tamolitch Blue Pool trailhead is only a few miles further down the McKenzie Highway.

Read our full story about Tamolitch Blue Pool and the two different hiking options.

Tamolitch Blue Pool Trailhead

There are actually two trailheads for the Tamolitch Blue Pool, where you can either hike a short two miles, or you can hike all the way from Sahalie Falls.

The trailhead to Tamolitch Blue Pool is about 10 miles past the Highway 20/McKenzie Highway Junction. To get there:

  • Travel down McKenzie Highway 10 miles after you turn from Highway 20
  • Turn at the “Trailbridge Campground” Sign
  • You will cross a bridge and turn right onto a gravel road
  • You will find parking about one-third of a mile down the road

Tamolitch Blue Pool hike(s)

You may want to take the second option because there are far fewer people on the trail and you get to start with Sahalie Falls. The first hike is much shorter, and really feels like a quick walk from the trailhead.

Lava Island Falls

Total Hiking Distance to Lava Island Falls: 2 miles roundtrip (or you can drive all the way up to the falls)

Lava Island Falls is only minutes outside of Bend, and you can easily drive nearly all the way up to the waterfall.

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The Lava Island Trailhead is located within the Lava Island Day Use area, which has a $5 day fee because it is within a national park. The trailhead is eight miles west of Bend on the Cascade Lakes Highway.

To get to Lava Island Falls Trailhead:

  • Follow Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway
  • Drive to Lava Island Trailhead Road
  • Turn left onto Dillon Falls Road
  • Merge onto Conklin Road/NF-41
  • Turn left
  • Take a slight right onto Lava Island Trailhead Road

Directions from Bend, Oregon to Lava Island Falls.

If you park at the pay station parking lot, you can take a short one-mile hike to the falls, or you can continue on to drive up to the waterfall and river. If you do take the hike, the path is a well-traveled mountain biking route, but all the bicyclists are nice and will not run you over.

Lava Island is exactly what it sounds like — an island made of lava. You will be able to see both sides of the river with the island in the middle. The waterfall itself is not easily visible from the path, but the different areas of the flowing river make the trip completely worth it.

Lava Island was formed nearly 6,200 years ago when lava flowing from nearby Lava Butte poured into the Deschutes River channel, forcing the river to relocate. The resulting island forced the river to flow on each side.

The two sides of the river rejoin each other about a mile downstream.

In 1947, an “irrigation flume” was built on the island to transport river water to nearby towns. When you are visiting the falls, the flume will look like a railroad track, but it is a historical view of irrigation in the area.

Dillon Falls

Total Hiking Distance to Dillon Falls: 0 miles – You can drive right up to the falls

When you are at Lava Island, it is only a few miles down the road to get to both Dillon Falls and Big Eddy. If you are at one, it is worth it to see all three. Your day use pass for Lava Island will also work for the other two.

To get to Dillon Falls Trailhead:

  • Follow Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway
  • Drive to Lava Island Trailhead Road
  • Turn left onto Dillon Falls Road
  • Merge onto Conklin Road/NF-41
  • Turn left at the Dillon Falls sign

Directions from Bend, Oregon to Dillon Falls.

You can also drive most of the way up to Dillon Falls, with a short walk from the parking lot to the waterfall. Once you get there, you will see a stunning view of the waterfall, the Deschutes River, and lava flows from the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

The parking lot of Dillon Falls offers horse trail parking, as well as a boat ramp into the Deschutes River. There is a horse trail along the Deschutes River.

Big Eddy

Total Hiking Distance to the Big Eddy: 0 miles – You can drive right up to the falls

The Big Eddy is not exactly a waterfall but we are including it here because it is so close to Lava Island Falls and Dillon Falls. The Big Eddy is a popular whitewater rafting destination, especially because of its vicinity to numerous resorts in the area. It is a circular river with whitewater sections, which make it a safe yet exciting whitewater destination.

To get to Big Eddy Trailhead:

  • Follow Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway
  • Drive to Lava Island Trailhead Road
  • Turn left onto Dillon Falls Road
  • Merge onto Conklin Road/NF-41
  • Turn left at the Big Eddy sign

Directions from Bend, Oregon to Big Eddy.

The Trailhead for the Big Eddy is only feet from the river, and provides access to the Deschutes River Trail.

On a warm day, you will find numerous people bringing their chairs to spend hours — perhaps just as a relaxing summer destination, or to enjoy the view of the whitewater rafters as they go down the rapids. However, if you’re not into whitewater rafting, there is also much calmer water where you will find many boaters paddling around.


TELL US – Did we miss a waterfall that you’d like to see on this list?