Renee Metivier Baillie is a professional runner sponsored by Mizuno and is often seen running the streets and trails of Central Oregon with other elite Bend-based athletes. When asked to recommend three trails of varying intensity, Baillie could only exclaim, "Oh, so many options!" But, when pressed, she narrowed the options to the following trails, and matched to any ability.
Baillie rates the McKenzie River Trail as an easy one-way run that she prefers to start at the western-most trail head near McKenzie Bridge. The trail meanders along the banks of the McKenzie River for 26 miles beginning one mile east of McKenzie Bridge on Hwy 126 and ending two miles above Clear Lake with a net elevation gain of 1,800 feet. If traveling with multiple runners, Baillie suggests runners select one of 11 parking areas scattered along the length of the trail to stage a car. "With multiple cars you can plan any distance you want," Baillie noted. "You won't want to turn around during this fairy tale run!"
Baillie suggests parking at the Skyliners Sno Park on Skyliners Road, heading out on the path that leads to Tumalo Falls and climbing FR4601 to the radio tower, which earns this route her designation as the "Touch the Towers" run.
"You tag the tower after a 1,200 foot climb that offers some of the most amazing views so close to town," she said. "Then continue on to intersect with the Mrazek Trail to float back down the trail!"
Beyond the scenery, Baillie likes the fact that this trail is so close to downtown, providing a great workout with time left over for other activities.
The Paulina Peak Trail in the Newberry Caldera presents 1,600 feet of climbing over two miles with spectacular, unobstructed views of the Three Sisters, Broken Top, Mount Bachelor, Diamond Peak, Mount Thielsen, Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, the Ochocos, and, on clear days, Mount Shasta.
The trail offers a challenging 10K out and back with an additional four-mile option for those seeking additional effort.
For an easier run, Baillie suggests the 7.5 mile easy loop around Paulina Lake that provides glimpses of the Big Obsidian Flow and Paulina Creek Waterfall.
As a reward, Baillie urges runners to take a dip in Paulina Lake and camp at one of the campgrounds to allow for another run the next morning.