The Oregon badlands have an abundance of trails. But for juniper, lava rocks and vibrant lichen, make your way over to the Flatiron Rock Trail. It’s an easy, six-mile there-and-back hike that leads to the origin of the lava flow: Flatiron Rock.
About 16 miles east of Bend along State Highway 20, this trail roves across ancient lava flows (about 80,000 years old) that came from a vent in the Newberry Volcano. The magma flowed for miles underground, and when it reached the area we now call the Badlands, it erupted, spewing lava in every direction. That eruption is the reason this area has such craggy and unforgiving terrain, and so many curiously shaped rocks.
The Flatiron Trail is accessible year-round. Along the way there are small caves to explore, great views of the Cascades, and Native American pictographs on rocky overhangs. The area provides hikers with plenty of solitude, with the exception of the wildlife, which is in abundance. Keep your eyes on the skies, and you might see some of the over 100 specifics of birds native to the area, including the spectacular golden eagle.
To learn more about the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, including the Flatiron Rock Trail, and download a brochure, visit the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) site: http://www.blm.gov/or/wilderness/badlands