Our family recently planned a trip to Sunriver, Oregon. Meaning, we planned to go there but we didn’t take the time to plan what we would do or see while in the area (as is our usual habit). We’re typically big on planning and preparedness but in this case, we decided to fly by the seat of our pants.

On our way to our vacation rental we passed a sign for Lava Lands and figured we’d check that out, only to discover that it was already closed for the day. Feeling a little bit frustrated (already) by our lack of foresight, we saw a sign that pointed to Benham Falls. Waterfalls are beautiful things and so we recalculated and headed off in the direction of water. We parked at the trail head for both Benham Falls and the Old Mill Interpretive Trail.


We began our explorations with the Old Mill Interpretive Trail. This trail took us along the Deschutes River. Along the way there were signs explaining the river’s historic uses and it’s ecology. This is a rather quiet and peaceful trail. It is marked as being “easy” which we can affirm.


There are many trails which connect and spread out around the area. We followed the path closest to the Deschutes for a ways. As this was our first outing in the area, we enjoyed the unique landscape and the kids had fun collecting pinecones.


We were pleased with how well the paths are maintained. It made traversing the area terrifically easy with the children.

Along the trail you’ll find signs describing the mill work that took place near the turn of the century along the river. We enjoyed reading about the history of the area and talking about what life might have been like for people working in the mill back in the day.



After exploring the Old Mill Interpretive Trail a bit, we turned around and headed towards the “falls” which we discovered weren’t quite what we had pictured in our mind’s eye. The falls here are rapids located between Sunriver and Bend, Oregon. The rapids were created by the eruption of the nearby Lava Butte and, despite not being as expected, were fun to check out.


We found these two trails to be a great introduction to the area. We ended up having a very pleasant evening out. The trail is quite wide (enough for a large group of people to spread out and fellowship while walking) and remarkably easy to navigate. We had no troubles and did not find the hiking difficult at all. Our two year old moved about quite easily. There is no guardrail along the river bank (should you be expecting such a thing) but just the beautiful sound of the rushing of water. Keep an eye on your kids, certainly, but there’s no real cause for worry or danger.


This is a perfect hike for families in general, but quite doable for young children especially. While it  was a happy accident that we went on this particular hike, we are glad for it.

Note: Due to the fact that there are a lot of shady areas and flowers, there are also a lot of mosquitoes. We did slap at a few, but not so many to find them a huge bother. You might wish to apply some bug spray before heading out.

For more information about the location of Benham Falls see HERE.

Other posts of interest:

Exploring Downtown Bend, Oregon