Living in Bend one finds themselves spoiled with a multitude of outdoor opportunities to enjoy with only a short drive from home. But we also are quite lucky to have an extensive park system right in town managed by Bend Parks and Recreation ( BPRD ).
This past year though, Bend Parks and Rec opened up what I feel is possibly the Crown Jewel of their portfolio – Riley Ranch Nature Reserve.
A Wilderness Feel Close In
The park is located on 184 acres along the Deschutes River at the base of Awbrey Butte and is accessed via Glenn Vista Drive off of OB Riley Road. While it is very much right in town, when you take the time to venture down the “rugged” Robin’s Run trail to access the Canyon Loop trail, the sounds and sights of the city disappear, and one feels like they are in a wilderness area.
The choice to manage this park as a Nature Reserve obviously plays a key role in providing this wilderness-like experience right in town. The folks at BPRD also chose to not allow dogs or bicycles in the reserve – which at first glance seems very UN-Bend of them, but the reasoning and the resulting wilderness feel seems worth it:
Bikes and dogs have a greater impact on wildlife and the landscape when compared to pedestrians. Riley Ranch provides a different experience for park users with numerous wildlife viewing opportunities as well as a place for people who are less comfortable around dogs or bikes.Bend Parks and Recreation District
Fly Fishing Riley Ranch
Another unique feature of this Bend park – is it provides access to a wonderful stretch of the Deschutes River that is home to native Redband Trout. While a large fish in this portion of the Deschutes will not tip the scales, the experience of catching a 8-14″ native fish in a scenic river canyon is quite the rush.
The Deschutes in this stretch boasts some fantastic pocket water style fishing due to the large boulders scattered through the river. Deep holes are found at the foot of small rapids, and the elusive trout are often found nearby. I suggest using heavy nymph flies to get down quickly to the trout, or often times a bushy caddis fly at dusk will bring a daring fish to the surface.
Through-Hike to Tumalo State Park
Furthermore Riley Ranch provides a key connection in the Deschutes River Trail network – as it allows for hikers of the river trail to connect to Tumalo State Park.
As such you can hike either from Tumalo State Park to Riley Ranch, or vice-versa. The one-way hike is just shy of 3.4 miles which makes for a nice through hike if you setup a car or bike shuttle – or a longer out and back style hike if time permits.
Here are a few resources to help plan your visit to Riley Ranch Preserve:
- Trail Map BPRD
- BPRD webpage with details on the park
- Tumalo State Park Deschutes River Trail Map
- Tumalo State Park website
And of course, here is our video of the trail: