Around the Bend: Pleasant Detours through Central Oregon

By Ibex Advocate Anna Jacobs

We’re pretty fortunate here in Bend, Oregon – we get 300 days of sunshine a year, and living in the high desert means the air is always dry and the weather tends to be fairly predictable. It was peak foliage season a few weeks ago, and my friend Tony and I were determined to capture as much fall color as we could during the coming weekend.


We made a plan, determined our destinations, calculated travel time, and put a short gear list together. I woke up at 4:30 a.m., threw some last minute items in my pack, brewed some tea and scooted out the door. We were on the road by 5, driving toward Sisters, OR. The drive out to Sisters is beautiful. Before reaching the town of Sisters, we had planned to stop at a scenic pull-off to catch the sunrise on our way out of town. It’s a distant but panoramic view of the Cascade Range, and is always sure to impress.


After capturing a few photos of the pink hues on the rising white peaks, we hopped into the car and continued driving. As we made our way through Sisters, we began observing the morning sky – we noticed there was not a cloud in front of us, which did not bode well for our plans – which included visiting 4 -5 waterfalls throughout the span of the day. We began to panic a bit, thinking of what other sights were ahead of us that would be showing fall color and wouldn’t be affected by harsh sunlight. Music off, phones in hand, frantically sputtering out destinations. Finally, we came to our conclusion – there were clouds behind us and we would backtrack to Bend, and head in the opposite direction toward the Umpqua National Forest. We had added an additional hour and a half to our trip and felt defeated after forced to abandon our original plans.


There are a lot of captivating waterfalls in the Umpqua National Forest, like the ever popular Toketee Falls, framed by a wall of volcanic basalt, or Watson Falls, known for its lofty 272 ft. drop into a collection of moss covered rocks. But we had both visited these beauties many times and were eager to see something new. We followed the windy roads into the forest and made our first stop at a bridge off of Hwy 138. For such simple scenery, Tioga Bridge was exquisite; the vibrant fall colors that surrounded it and the warm tones of the wood were a photographer’s dream. I threw on my Ibex Taos Flannel and wandered around the area with my dog, Charlie. My flannel perfectly matched the autumn colors and it kept me warm as we explored.


We visited a few other falls before making our way to our final destination, Fall Creek Falls. The trail was surrounded by towering trees, adorned with yellow and orange leafs. There was a large mossy rock outcrop that we wound our way through, it was glowing an electrifying shade of green. As we reached the falls we realized there was not another soul here, we had this magical place all to ourselves. There are four tiers to Fall Creek Falls, collectively measuring around 120’.  The final tier dives into a small pool of water before it trickles down over the staggering rocks. The ground around the pool was sprinkled with brightly colored leaves. We took in the beauty of this waterfall, grateful to have found such a calm, untouched destination on, what can be, busy weekends.


As we drove back to Bend, our hearts were full of new adventures and fond new memories. Although it wasn’t the day we had planned for, our journey worked out splendidly. We were able to spend our day venturing into new places in the great outdoors and running around with our pups. And as we like to say, ‘At the end of the day, if our pups had fun, then that’s really all that matters.’