If you’d like to be one of the first people to visit a new trail system, consider a trip to the Cascade View Trails.
The trail system is still under the radar for most people. During a recent two-hour visit, we saw only one other person on the trails. Granted, it was a gray, windy fall day that was threatening rain, but it still felt like we had found a hidden gem of a trail system.
The Cascade View trailhead is located off Eagle Crest Boulevard, which is accessed from Highway 126. There is no sign for the trailhead on Highway 126, but it is located on the west side of Eagle Crest Boulevard shortly after it curves south, and can be found on Google Maps. The trailhead offers spacious parking for horse trailers as well as automobiles, pit toilets, picnic tables, and — best of all — trails!
The trail system is open to non-motorized users. It offers 12 miles of trails open to bikers and hikers — approximately 1.3 miles of which are under construction — and 6.5 miles of trails open to horseback riders and hikers.
Like the nearby Maston trail system, bikers and horseback riders use separate trails to minimize user conflicts. Runners, hikers, and dog walkers are welcome on both sets of trails.
Be aware that this system is still under development. There is no trail map at the trailhead and signage along the trails is minimal. If you go, bring a sense of adventure and a GPS application that will help you find your way.
The trails start out quite easy and flat, becoming gradually harder the farther from the trailhead you go. Also, again like the nearby Maston trails, there are sections of rocky technical riding ranging from relatively easy sections to sections that will likely require a short hike-a-bike for many riders.
When we arrived at 10 a.m. on a Saturday there were no other cars in the parking lot. What a treat! We set out along the Blue-Belly stem trail, a green-rated (easy) trail. The dirt was firm due to recent rains, but we could tell it would be very sandy in the dry season. About half a mile in, we encountered the first technical section. It was a short rocky section and fun to navigate.
Next, we passed through a gate used by local ranchers that hold federal permits to graze cattle here. Cattle and recreational users share public lands in many places in Central Oregon and throughout the West. It is important that all recreational users respect grazing rights by closing all gates securely after you go through them.
If you see cattle, avoid disturbing them. Give them a wide berth, move slowly, talk to them so they know you are human, don’t go between mothers and calves, and don’t make eye contact as they perceive it as a threat. It is important not to cause them to run away. If cattle feel threatened and run, they waste precious energy stores and can be injured.
We didn’t see any cows and kept riding along, choosing our direction randomly at several intersections. Eventually we came to the portion of the trail that isn’t complete. We chose to walk our bikes through this section, but it was a long hike-a-bike and most people will prefer to turn around at this point.
Thanks to a grant from the Bend Sustainability Fund, Central Oregon Trail Alliance plans to complete the trail soon and install signage so the trails will be easier to navigate. But if you are up for a choose-your-own-adventure experience on a relatively little-used trail system, there’s no time like the present to visit the Cascade View trails.