Archie Briggs Natural Area presents views over a dramatic stretch of the Deschutes River north of Bend. The river makes a sweeping curve beneath tall cliffs of volcanic rock and is backed by grand mountains like Black Butte and Mount Jefferson. Gaze down the canyon from atop cliffs on the south side of the curve in the river by an intersection of Deschutes River Trail and Archie Briggs Canyon Trail. The easiest way to this view is to hike 1.25 miles round trip down Archie Briggs Trail on the north side of Awbrey Butte in Northwest Bend.
Archie Briggs Canyon Trail crosses Mount Washington Drive less than 0.4 miles above the Deschutes River. Since there’s no parking at this intersection, start from the next spot where Archie Briggs Canyon Trail crosses a road, Panorama Drive. A less used section of the trail ascends from here toward Winslow Drive near Sylvan Park around the top of Awbrey Butte.
Hike downhill on Archie Briggs Canyon Trail through a pine filled ravine. After less than 0.2 miles, the dirt single track crosses Mount Washington Drive. Wait for a gap in traffic and cross to the other side where the trail resumes. As it drops below the road, the trail curves to the left and then swings back to the right. Drop into a gully, where the trail splits. The official trail proceeds to the right, while another well-worn path goes down the bottom of the ravine to the left. Either route is fine, coming down to Deschutes River Trail in another 0.3 miles.
At the bottom of Archie Briggs Canyon Trail, meet the wide cinder trail running along the river. A 200-foot deep canyon lies just ahead. You can turn right or left on Deschutes River Trail to get a better view over the canyon. The section of Deschutes River Trail to the left is fairly steep, so skip that and take the path of least resistance and turn right.
Go up a gradual slope along the edge of a bluff, quickly coming to a bench with stellar views over the canyon. The Deschutes River comes from the right and makes a swinging curve to the north. Tall cliffs of dark brown volcanic rock frame the river. Beyond the cliffs on the opposite side of the river is a grassy field and forest in an area called Gopher Gulch that the City of Bend has acquired for parkland.
In the distance, look for Black Butte and Mount Jefferson rising triumphantly above a forest of conifers. If conditions are clear, walk east for a stretch on Deschutes River Trail to catch sight of Middle and North Sister rising to the west. You can hike farther on Deschutes River Trail, but the best views from this north-of-Bend stretch of this trail can be found around Archie Briggs Canyon Trail.
From the bench, walk back to Archie Briggs Canyon Trail and hike 0.55 miles back up to Panorama Drive, regaining 325 feet of elevation to complete this 1.25-mile round trip hike. Dogs and bikes are allowed on Archie Briggs Canyon Trail and Deschutes River Trail. Parking is free and no permit is required, so get out and enjoy!
To get to the trailhead: From Bend, take NE 3rd Street (Route 20) north to Mount Washington Drive, which comes just after you pass under Bend Parkway (Route 97). Turn left on Mount Washington Drive and go 2.4 to Constellation Drive. Turn left and make an immediate right onto Panorama Drive. Take this for a third of a mile and park before of after a curve in the road to the right. The trail begins from the inside of this curve.
Trailhead address: 3360 NW Panorama Drive, Bend, OR 97701
Trailhead coordinates: 44.0855, -121.3347 (44° 05′ 07.80″N 121° 20′ 04.91″W)
You may also view a regional map of surrounding Oregon trails and campgrounds.
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