Steelhead Falls waterfall in a canyon

Hiking to Steelhead Falls: A Family-Friendly Adventure

Nestled in the heart of Central Oregon, Steelhead Falls is an easy little hike that offers visitors a unique geological experience blended with the stunning beauty of the Deschutes Reiver. This popular Central Oregon hike is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a moderate trek with a rewarding waterfall at the end of it. In this article, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know to embark on this adventure, from trail details to what to bring, ensuring an enjoyable experience for families, beginners, and anyone looking for a short outing.

Steelhead Falls is part of the Deschutes River, and the falls themselves are a breathtaking cascade, dropping about 20 feet into a crystal-clear pool below. The hike to Steelhead Falls is relatively short and easy but offers spectacular views and a chance to experience the serene beauty of Central Oregon’s high desert landscape.

Steelhead Falls Hike Details

  • Location: 25 Minutes NW of Redmond, Oregon
  • Trail Length: Approximately 2 miles out and back.
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate, suitable for children and beginners
  • Elevation Gain: About 200 feet
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring through Fall, Open Year Round

Getting to the Trailhead

To reach the Steelhead Falls trailhead, head north from Redmond on US-97, then turn left onto Lower Bridge Road just after Terrabonne. Follow this road for about 2.5 miles before turning right onto NW 43rd Street. Continue for another 3.5 miles, then turn left onto Chinook Drive and follow it until you reach the trailhead parking area. Parking is free at the trailhead and as always be sure to remove all valuables from your vehicle.

Hiking to Steelhead Falls

The trail to Steelhead Falls begins from the well-marked trailhead. Initially, the path winds through juniper and sagebrush, characteristic of the high desert terrain. Early in the hike, you’ll get views of the Deschutes River as it meanders through the canyon below. The trail is well-maintained and manageable for hikers of all ages and skill levels.

As you progress along the trail, you’ll hear the sound of rushing water growing louder, signaling your approach to the river. The trail descends down the canyon and parallels the river for some time. There are several shoot off trails leading down to the river and you can find a nice place to picnic or just enjoy the scenery prior to reaching the falls.

It will be quite obvious once you reach Steelhead Falls and you will find several outcroppings offering great views of the cascade. If you have children with you make sure you keep a close eye on them as this area has cliffs and can be extremely dangerous.

Besides hiking, Steelhead Falls is a popular spot for fishing and swimming and in the heat of the summer, you may catch some brave souls cliff jumping into the water below.

What to Bring

To ensure a comfortable and enjoyable hike to Steelhead Falls, consider packing the following essentials:

  • Sturdy Hiking Shoes: The trail can be rocky and uneven in places.
  • Water: Central Oregon can get quite hot, especially in the summer, so staying hydrated is crucial.
  • Snacks or a Picnic: There are plenty of scenic spots to enjoy a meal with a view.
  • Sun Protection: Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses are recommended.
  • Camera: To capture the stunning scenery.
  • Swimsuit and Towel: If you plan to swim.
  • Trash Bag: Leave no trace and pack out all your trash.
  • First Aid Kit: Always handy, especially with kids.

Safety Tips

While the hike to Steelhead Falls is relatively moderate, here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Stay on the Trail: To protect the fragile desert ecosystem and for your own safety.
  • Watch for Wildlife: Give animals plenty of space and do not feed them. This is rattlesnake country so watch your step.
  • Be Mindful of Weather: Check the forecast before you go, as conditions can change quickly.
  • Leave No Trace: Respect the natural environment by packing out all your trash and minimizing your impact.

Hiking to Steelhead Falls is a perfect way to experience the natural beauty of Central Oregon. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker, a family with young children, or a beginner looking for a manageable challenge, this trail offers plenty of rewards. From the stunning waterfall to the diverse geological canyon, this hike encapsulates the unique charm of the high desert landscape.

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