Another Great Dog Walk in Bend (That May Require Trespassing. Ooops)

Another Great Dog Walk in Bend (That May Require Trespassing. Ooops)

I break the law a few times a week. Please don’t tell anyone. I do it for Betty. I mean, look at that sweet girl. Who wouldn’t bend the rules to make her happy?

This is Betty

Betty has a good life. She gets an hour or so of daily exercise in one of the prettiest cities in the country: Bend, Oregon.

That said, being her human, and having other human stuff to do, I don’t always have time to drive her somewhere to get out her ya-yas. So I’m always trying to find fun new routes walkable from my front door.

We usually walk to First Street Rapids Park and head north on the Deschutes River Trail (DRT), and explore from there. We often end up at Sawyer Park, but sometimes we need some variety. Sooooo, this is where the lawbreaking comes in…

See, I hate the spot where the DRT takes an abrupt left away from the river (you can’t go straight along river because there’s a golf course in the way) and dumps you out on NW Mt. Washington Drive. You walk a 1/4 mile or so along the street, cross over and continue on the DRT. Yeah, no biggie, but I love being near the river and I don’t like walking along the road (especially when it’s icy, with cars sliding down the hill). I know… first-world problems. I’m explaining to illustrate what drove me to lawbreaking.

Every time I face the left turn that leads me away from the river, I see River’s Edge Golf Course “no trespassing” signs, I do. I’m mostly a law-abiding citizen, but the the actual river’s edge is so damn alluring. 

Not to be denied, a few weeks ago, I consulted Google Maps and viola! Just a few hundred feet north of the dreaded left turn was a park! The southern edge of Riverview Park was soooooooo close to the DRT, only a green or two in between. Hmmmm. I figured if I stayed as close as possible to the river, and skirted along the edge of the golf course, I could make it to the park in no time.

And that’s just what I did (and, gulp, do). Once I’m done with my 60 seconds of very cautious trespassing, I’m on a cliff in the park, looking across the river at the houses and their fowl-laden lawns (especially now that it’s snowing, their lawns look like a winter beach for swans, geese and ducks). 

Then I wind my way down through the rocky cliffs and eventually end up down at water level with a canopy of pine and fir overhead, just at the bend in the river.

I keep heading down river and eventually come across a dramatic spillway (Google Maps tells me that Rivals Sports Bar is on the other side of the river near the spillway).

Deschutes River spillway + graffiti (pre-snow)

And what about Betty? She generally leads the way, mountain-goating over the rocky terrain and then down into the flats dotted with shoulder-high scrub brush which provide great hiding places for deer and grouse (and from the looks of it, homeless people when the weather is warmer). 

While I’m absorbed in the river view, Betty’s off looking for wildlife to herd. She runs and runs and runs, under bushes, over boulders, across beds of pine needles and snow. She’ll disappear for a few minutes and occasionally I’ll see a deer bound over bushes as tall as me, trying to escape the 12 pounds of barking wrath known as Betty. 

We keep winding our way north until we reach a big parking lot that belongs to The Riverhouse Convention Center on NW Mt. Washington Drive (near US 97/ NE 3rd St), then we turn around and zig zag back through the 20(ish) acres of park until we’re back on the cliffs and it’s time to trespass again, skulking around the edges of the golf course and back onto the Deschutes River Trail

Of course, I could enter the park legally through The Riverhouse Convention Center parking lot at 2850 NW Rippling River Court, if I wanted to get in my car and drive. But then I discovered something that made me wonder if my crime is a little worse than I thought.

I’ve never seen anyone in the park. There are half a dozen abandoned homeless camps (tarps, clothes, trash, books, empty cans and bottles). The camp debris puzzled me, since Bend Parks and Rec usually keeps most of our parks in such pristine shape.

While I was writing this, I pulled up the Parks & Rec website to grab more stats on Riverview Park and I discovered a bit of a problem. The park we’ve been romping through isn’t Riverview Park

Per Bend Parks and Rec, the official Riverview Park is on Division Street, on the other side of the river from the “park” Google Maps lured me into. Ruh roh. I expect errors like this from Apple’s iOS6 Maps, but from Google? Just when you thought you knew who to trust…

So I haven’t been in Riverview Park after all… Is it private property? I went to Google for answers (hey, everyone deserves a second chance) and after a few keystrokes discovered that the golf course and the Riverhouse hotel and convention center are privately owned by the Purcell family (unless Google is lying again). Do the Purcells own the fake Riverview Park area too? If so, why haven’t they built million-dollar gated-golf-course-community houses on those cliffs? 

The mystery park (or private land… oops) has almost a 1/2 a mile of river front and is such a lovely unused area. I really hope the mystery “park” is open to the public and that I’m not a inveterate criminal for letting Betty run around this beautiful patch of wilderness. Eeek. 

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