Oregon's Badland Rock Trail is a gorgeous 12.5-mile trail near Bend. The trail provides 360-degree views of Central Oregon that can't be beat!
The trail leads up to two different uniquely shaped volcanic rock formations that you can climb on top of and enjoy the gorgeous views at around 3,000'. There are a few different trailheads you can use to access this area but all are quite similar.
Oregon Badlands Wilderness - Bend
The Oregon Badlands Wilderness is a 29,000-acre section of wilderness near Bend, Oregon, that's home to juniper trees, fantastic lava formations, and BLM land. It's filled with loosely-defined trails that are easy to walk, run, or bike. Most are very flat with very little elevation gain.
In total, there are five different popular trailheads to use as jumping-off points for your hike in the wilderness. They are:
Dry River Trailhead
Reynolds Pond Trailhead
In the area, you're likely to see species of:
Need to Know
Here is everything you need to know about the trail and Oregon Badlands Wilderness.
Dogs? Yes, dogs are allowed in Oregon Badlands Wilderness.
Best time to hike: in spring or fall when it's not quite as hot as it is in the summer.
Camping? Yes, the camping is all on BLM land, so it is not regulated.
Busy? Not particularly. Plus, the trail is really long, so you'll likely be spread out from other hikers.
Biking? No, biking is not allowed in this area.
It's also a good idea to bring a map or a GPS track, so you don't get off the trail. There are many branching trails in this area, and it's easy to get off track.
Oregon Badlands Wilderness Map
Badlands Rock Trailhead
The Badlands Rock Trail begins just off Central Oregon Highway, around 30 minutes from Bend and 40 minutes from Redmond. It's just south of Oregon Badlands Wilderness.
To get to the trailhead, take Highway 20 to the eastern part of Bend and toward the Badlands Rock Trailhead. The turn-off will be on your left. The same formation can be accessed from another trailhead as well, Flatiron Rock Trailhead, only about 20 seconds closer to Bend.
Hiking the Trail
The trail is fairly long, stretching nearly 13 miles from beginning to end. It's an out-and-back trail that requires retracing your steps on the way back. But, don't worry, you'll have a fairly easy time as the trail only gains around 400 feet of elevation in total.
The trail starts on the east side of the loop parking lot. But, there s another path that's slightly closer to the entrance that quickly meets up to form a central path into the Badlands. After only a few minutes, the trail crosses Dry River and the Dry River Trail. This marks to border between the Badlands volcano and Horse Ridge volcanoes.
Keep heading straight for 2.2 miles and enjoy the barren but beautiful desert scenery around you. It's equally gorgeous the whole way but with very few opportunities for water. So, make sure you bring all the water you need with you. It can be extremely hot!
Another mile or so down the trail, you'll pass a left turn but continue straight until you pass Badlands Rock on the left. This small rocky formation is totally worth a scramble to its low summit. It's less than 0.1 miles off the path!
From here, you'll have about 3.3 miles until the trail terminates at the Tumulus Trail. Before this, you'll pass The Drive In, another rock formation on the left side of the trail.
The volcanic rock in this area is gorgeous and very interesting in its shape. It's possible to scramble up and onto many of the formations but be careful! This rock is well-known for being loose and breakable.
Camping in Oregon Badlands
If you want to camp in the Oregon Badlands, you'll have a few different possibilities. The trail, as well as its surroundings, are located on BLM land or property owned by the Bureau of Land Management. This means there are no rules regarding where or when you can camp. It also means there are few, if any, established campsites.
You shouldn't expect there to be any amenities or even a fire pit! But, there is a site near the summit of Flatiron Rock. Make sure that you take advantage of any sites, if you see one, and leave no trash behind, including human waste!
Other Great Badlands Trails
If you love the Badlands Rock trail, you're in luck. There are many more trails to explore.
The Badlands Rock and Flatiron Trail
The loop to Flatiron Rock, Badlands Rock, and the Castle is a very popular alternative route that's only just over 11 miles long. It's a great place to hike, but pretty remote. There are no amenities or real water sources. If you hike this trail or any route from the Badlands Rock Trailhead, make sure to bring plenty of water. There is very little shade, and the shade and gravel are very hot.
There are so many trails in this area that it is very possible to make a variety of paths into the wilderness.
If you love this area of Oregon, we highly recommend checking out Lake Billy Chinook.