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Badlands Rock Trail - Map and Guide | Oregon

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.


The Central Oregon Badlands
The Central Oregon Badlands

In total, there are five different popular trailheads to use as jumping-off points for your hike in the wilderness. They are:

  • Chitwood Trailhead

  • Badlands Trailhead

  • Flatiron Trailhead

  • Dry River Trailhead

  • Reynolds Pond Trailhead


Views in Bend, Oregon
Views in Bend, Oregon

Wildlife

In the area, you're likely to see species of:

  • Elk

  • Mule deer

  • Antelope

  • Marmots

  • Prarie falcons

  • Golden eagles

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.


The sunset near Bend, Oregon
The sunset near Bend, Oregon

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.


Badlands Rock Trailhead Sign
Badlands Rock Trailhead Sign

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.


Distance

Elevation Gain

Time Required

Difficulty

​12.5 miles

400 feet

​4 hours

4/10

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.

Juniper Tree in Oregon Badlands Wilderness
Juniper Tree in Oregon Badlands Wilderness

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.

Bend Mountain Skyline
Bend Mountain Skyline

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.


Shack in the Oregon Badlands
Shack in the Oregon Badlands

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!

Tree stump in the Badlands.
Tree stump in the Badlands.

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.


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