Middle of Snowhere

Snow-hike to Flatiron Rock in Oregon Badlands Wilderness

Tell a Bend local that you went snow hiking in the Badlands and chances are they’ll give you a raised eyebrow and an Ohhh?! look. That’s because this vast high-desert landscape is as epic and mythical as it sounds. Oregon Badlands Wilderness is not your normal winter destination. Off the beaten path about a twenty-minute drive east from downtown Bend, a winter hike here definitely has the element of true adventure. In fact, winter may be the best time to visit this exposed desert terrain.

Do a 5.5-mile out-and-back hike from Flatiron Trailhead all the way to its namesake rock. The hike is best done in early morning, wearing good snow boots or very good hiking shoes. Take the Flatiron Rock Trail, and follow the boot prints (see note in italics). Passing old and gnarly juniper trees, you’re likely to be hiking in solitude, winding along vast landscape with wide views of Central Oregon.

At the intersection of Flatiron Trail and Castle Trail you’re at Flatiron Rock. Look for a well-trodden spur trail to the left, leading up to this lunar-like formation. Walk along it and enjoy peek-a-boo and full views of the sun-kissed Cascades, including uber-famous, almost ethereal Mount Hood. Take a seat on an outcropping and take in the volcanic vista. Return the way you came. Badlands to the bone!

Gallery image 1 of 5
Gallery image 2 of 5
Gallery image 3 of 5
Gallery image 4 of 5
Gallery image 5 of 5

BONUS FOOD & BEER: After the hike and en route back to town, stop for lunch and (you guessed it!) craft beer at the new and spacious Worthy Brewing (495 NE Bellevue Dr, Bend). Walk its tiled mosaic Beermuda Triangle and sit down to some fish tacos and the Vanilla Cream Lights Out Stout! (Ask about their Hopservatory tours.)

worthybrewing-image-jpeg

Badlands Wilderness is located east of downtown Bend. The parking lot is rutted, so a four-wheel drive is a must in winter. Here’s a map to the trailhead. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen, and wear good hiking boots or snow boots. Some people snowshoe the trail. Important: Do not do this hike if the weather is unsettled or winter-stormy. White-outs here would be dangerous. You want to have good, clear conditions for safety and visibility. Dog-friendly!

Trending Stories Northern CA

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Tam Slam!

    This 8-mile (round-trip) hike is a pure classic, with redwoods, water-flows, and soaring views of the coastline. Oh yeah, and that ladder!

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Easiest Best Hike in the World

    Choose the easiest and most view-rewarding hike in Yosemite. Okay, we’ll go first: the combination of hiking to Sentinel Dome and Taft Point. Both of these lookouts are within a couple miles of each other on Glacier Point Road

    View
  3. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    Road Trip Ahead: Oregon Outback

    Remote open spaces, camping under true Dark Skies, hiking and biking trails galore, wildlife refuges, and hot springs! Plan your road trip to the Oregon Outback this summer.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    Nice Ring to It

    This tiny but mighty open space preserve on the Tiburon Peninsula can often exhibit a wide range of wildflowers late into the season, not to mention one of the most jaw-dropping views of the bay.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Bouquet of Waterfalls

    Like a good love letter, some of the best hiking trails are short and sweet. Cue the hike to Bouquet Falls in Santa Clarita Valley’s Bouquet Canyon.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    New Rules of the Trail

    As some parks around California begin to re-open, we came up with tips for being responsible on your outdoor adventures. Let’s do our part so we can all keep enjoying the parks.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Big Time Hike

    This is the largest grove of giant sequoias in Yosemite. We recommend this grand tour hike at 7.5 miles which includes a spectacular overlook.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    All Roads Lead to Rogue

    Idea for your next road trip: Go Rogue! The Rogue Valley in beautiful Southern Oregon has some of the state’s best hiking, swim holes, and wineries, and the charming historic towns of Ashland, Medford, and Jacksonville.

    View