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Trail Propaganda

  • Chasing the horizon at Smith Rock State Park, a popular rock climbing and trail running spot a half-hour drive from Bend, Oregon.

  • Bend locals Scott Hubbs and Kevney Dugan climb Misery Ridge at Smith Rock State Park.

  • Emily McMahon Rand leads Mountain's Olivia Dwyer up Misery Ridge.

  • McMahon Rand and Hubbs take in the Cascade Range from Smith Rock.

  • Chris Paterson and McMahon Rand make quick work of the trails at Smith Rock, one of Paterson's favorite places to pile up elevation on training runs.

  • Water break. Dugan and Paterson at Tumalo Falls.

  • McMahon Rand on the Deschutes River Trail, a locals' favorite for town to trail runs.

  • Dugan models the Scott Kinabalu Ultratrac to fine effect.

  • A closer look at The North Face Ultra Cardiac from the top of Pilot Butte. For shoe reviews and more on Bend, look for the Early Summer 2015 issue in May.

There’s a charm offensive at work on the trails around Bend, Oregon.

Every spring, we try to hold a trail shoe photo shoot near Mountain headquarters in Boulder, Colorado. And then the trails turn to mud and late-season squalls move in. So this year, after a dozen Front Range testers spent six weeks piling miles on the latest trail shoes, we took our favorite kicks on a victory tour to Bend, Oregon.

For 2015 Trail Test results and more on the Bend running scene, watch for the Early Summer 2015 gear guide. Here’s a preview: The town of 80,000 feels like a guileless Pleasantville, liberally dosed with all the locally sourced foodstuffs and artisanal flair you’d find on a Portlandia setEven better, Bend’s growing population of craft beer makers can nearly fill a pick-and-mix 24-pack. The western horizon features the Cascades, a rugged chain of volcanoes. The snowy alpine gives way to Ponderosa pine forests and then high desert. I was told that whether you want whitewater, mountain biking, fly fishing, or rock climbing, Bend delivers. And that’s especially true for trail runners—a quick look at a map shows 51 miles of trail inside the city limits alone.

Which brought me to a loamy path dusted with ochre pine needles on a chilly morning in early April, where I paused to eye a knee-high wooden signpost on the Deschutes River Trail. Below the beige-on-green trail marker a sticker offered a glimpse into the psyche of the Central Oregon mountain town. “Be nice, you’re in Bend!” I read. The trail propaganda caught me off guard, but I quickly realized it’s everywhere. On the way to Tumalo Falls, cheerful trail markings exhort you to “Look, Listen, Smile!” The guerilla campaign for sunny attitudes spills into downtown, where coffee shop windows and bumper stickers sport variations on the theme: “Be nice… you’re in Oregon!”

But the ubiquitous reminders work—or maybe it’s a side effect of those potent microbrews. The people of Bend are unabashedly friendly. When I chased a group of local ultrarunners back up the Deschutes River Trail on a weekly lunch run, they gave every passerby a hello or a high five without breaking stride. Toothy grins and spontaneous conversations waited on every trail from Smith Rock State Park to Pilot Butte. Call it radical kindness or old-fashioned hospitality. Just know that Bend is pretty nice in every way.  —Olivia Dwyer | Photos by Dave Cox

Subscribe here to receive the Early Summer 2015 gear guide.

2 Responses to “Trail Propaganda”

  1. Carol McGrath

    I have been trying to get a copy of the Early summer 2015 Gear Guide. I went to Barnes & Noble in Bend, OR about 3 weeks ago and they did not have it. And, I went to a Barnes & Noble in Deptford, NJ, and was told they did not have it either. My brother, Scott Hubbs, is in the article, about the running shoes, that was shot in Bend. My mother and I would love to have a copy. I also called your company and spoke to Olivia Dwyer. She said she would have someone get in touch with me by phone or email. I called on Friday, July 24th and still have not heard from anyone. I would really appreciate being able to get the copies without a subscription. I hope someone can help me. Thank you for your time, Carol Hubbs Mcgrath

    • Kiran Herbert

      Hey Carol,

      Sorry for my late reply; somehow this got lost in the shuffle with Olivia leaving and me coming on. Reach out to Gina Swanson ([email protected]) and she should be able to set you up with an issue. Best,

      Kiran Herbert
      Assistant Editor


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