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Dry River Loop, Oregon Badlands Wilderness

The Dry River Loop, located in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness miles east of Bend, showcases ancient juniper trees, sagebrush, bunchgrass, and interesting lava outcroppings.  While many of the trails in the Oregon Badlands are very popular with hikers and dog walkers, the Dry River Loop is used almost entirely by equestrians.  You’ll often have the trail all to yourself.

The Ride

One leg of this loop follows what used to be called the Sand Trail.  It's no longer an official trail, but since it follows a dirt road still used by the rancher who grazes his cattle here, you can still ride it. You'll see gnarled ancient juniper trees along the route.

Dry River Loop, Oregon Badlands Wilderness

The second leg of the trail follows the official Dry River Trail along the course of an ancient riverbed.  It features some impressive mountain views

Dry River Trail, Oregon Badlands Wilderness

and runs beside a fractured lava ridge that is nearly a mile long. 

Dry River Trail, Oregon Badlands Wilderness

Be sure to do the loop clockwise, veering left on the Sand Trail at the first opportunity, so you’ll be facing the mountain views along the Dry River Trail as you return to the trailhead. 

Dry River Loop, Oregon Badlands Wilderness

More Information

This ride is featured in the Oregon Badlands chapter of Riding Central Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, available at


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