The Otter Bench trail is perched on a bench (with a distressingly few quantity of otters) above the Crooked River deep within Crooked River Ranch. The Crooked River, at this location, is nearing its confluence with the Deschutes River as it carves its way through a dramatic, steep sided, basalt canyon. Raptors can be seeing navigating the canyon and during the spring, wildflowers such as balsamroot and paintbrush pop up.
The hike begins from the Otter Bench trailhead and stays on the far side of the bench away from the canyon for the first 1.7 miles. The hike is relatively flat as you navigate your way through a typical Central Oregon high desert landscape of juniper and sagebrush. Once you reach a four-way intersection, continue straight ahead to descend 400 feet to the river itself on the Pink Trail.
The Pink Trail is very primitive and steep, but offers many unique views of the river and canyon on the way down. Just be prepared to have to march back up afterward. The trail begins with a couple switchbacks, and then heads down a stone staircase straight down a dry wash. Continue to work your way down some interesting rock formations and eventually find yourself on a Alder laden bank enjoying the view from a boulder or two.
Once you make your way back up the canyon, and if it is not between February 1 and August 31, you can take the Horny Hollow Trail along the canyon rim back to the trailhead. However, if you are there during that time period (they close it for nesting birds), just return from wince you came.
From Highway 97 just north of Terrebonne, turn west onto Lower Bridge Road towards Crooked River Ranch. Travel 2.2 miles on Lower Bridge Road and then make a right onto 43rd St. This road will end in a T after another 1.8 miles, so turn left on NW Chinook Drive. You will remain on Chinook as it winds its way down the canyon and past the golf course at Crooked River Ranch. After a little over 5 miles, Chinook with turn into Horny Hollow Road. Remain on Horny Hollow for another 1.8 miles as you drive through the homes until you reach the trailhead at the end of the road.
Passes: No passes are required.
Dogs: Allowed and must be on leash or under voice command at all times.
Open Season: Year round.
Trail Closures: If you want to make a loop hike out of this, be aware that the Horny Hollow Trail is closed from February 1 through August 31 for nesting birds.