Tumalo Reservoir is one of my all-time favorite places to ride in spring and fall, when the high country is blanketed with snow.
50+ miles of riding
500 feet of elevation gain
Highlights include ponderosa pine forest, Bull Creek, easy trails, irrigation canals, many possible loops
While Tumalo Reservoir itself is off-limits to equestrians, the land around it open year round. Dirt roads and user-created trails criss cross the area, offering plenty of opportunities to create loops of whatever length you like.
Near Tumalo Reservoir, you can explore beautiful ponderosa forest, ride open sagebrush flats, and travel through ravines lined with basalt outcroppings.
You can ride beside tiny Bull Creek or along wide irrigation canals, see spectacular mountain views, and enjoy wildflowers in season.
If you ride through the area burned by the 2014 Two Bulls Fire, you’ll have panoramic views to the east, plus close-up views of the Cascades. On a clear day, you can even see Mt. Hood.
None of the trails near Tumalo Reservoir are signed, so you’ll be exploring. Use the occasional glimpses of the Cascades to keep yourself directionally oriented.
You can ride at Tumalo Reservoir year-round, but for a couple of months in winter, it may be too icy to ride there. In summer, the trails can be dusty. The best seasons at Tumalo Reservoir are spring and fall.
When you ride near Tumalo Reservoir, you’ll be on land owned by Tumalo Irrigation District, on BLM land, on Forest Service land, and on privately-owned timberland. The owner of the private timberland has graciously given permission for the public to use his property for recreation.
From Bend, take Hwy. 20 northwest toward Sisters. In Tumalo, turn left on Bailey Road. Drive 4.6 miles (during which the road name changes to Tumalo Reservoir Road). Just before the road makes a 90-degree turn to the right and goes over a narrow bridge, turn left into the dirt parking area.
You’ll find more information about this riding area in the Skyline Forest chapter of Riding Central Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2012). Available at www.nwhorsetrails.com.