travel directions for the west cascades national scenic byway.
written travel directions for the west cascades national scenic byway.

Gray Butte at Smith Rock near Bend, Oregon.

 
 

The West Cascades National Scenic Byway: 220 miles of consistent scenic beauty, little traffic, streamside & roadside old growth forests, hot springs, waterfalls with the option of touring the better known historic highway with many waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge. A tour route second only in singular beauty to Crater Lake and over all to the
coast yet first in non-congestion. - bk

 
 

Traveling to Gathering Light ... a retreat:

For those of you coming from as far north as Portland, you might want to begin your trip at Estacada and travel SE on Hwy 224 until you see Ripplebrook Forest Service Station. One-half mile after the FS Station, turn right on 46. 46 will take you to Detroit on Hwy 22. If you're not in too much of a hurry, you might want to go to Bagby Hot Springs off of 46. If so, follow 46 for 3.5 miles before connecting with 63. Follow 63 for 3.5 miles when you'll see FR 70. Follow FR 70 for about 6 miles when you'll arrive at the trailhead parking. It's a 1.5 mile hike to the spring. (Parking is usually congested, and there have been other problems there as well, but the Forest Service has established patrols in order to get control of the situation.)

After your soak, return to 46 and drive SE to Detroit where you will connect with 22. Turn left. You'll be heading SE before the road straightens and except for a few curves, heads south for the most part. Once again you'll reach an intersection. Turn right on 126. On 126, you can stop to hike to Sahalie and Koosah on the McKenzie River. After returning to 126, you will travel south once again, until you come to an intersection yet again. Now you have a choice to make. You can turn right, travel a short distance on 126 before turning to the left; the sign will say Cougar Reservoir. If you decide to take this route, you can stop at Terwilliger (Cougar) Hot Springs if you like. Drive further, and you'll be on one of the National Forest Scenic Hwys, it's called "Aufderheide." This route follows the course of theS. fork of the McKenzie, a mere creek tumbling over rocks and boulders, forging its way through stands of old growth Douglas Fir. Trailheads are marked, you can stop to walk and "meditate" in the serene peace only a forest can give. Not long after you leave the McKenzie, you'll come across the north fork of the Willamette River when it's just a baby. There are several great swimming holes along this segment of the route, as well as great views of the river.

The highway will bring you out on Hwy 58 just west of Oakridge. Be sure to stop at McCredie Hot Springs just off the highway. There's a wayside for parking on the river. McCredie features several warm pools. You'll find it just beyond mile post marker 45 if you're heading east, & mile post marker 46 if you're heading west. 58 offers scenic views of Diamond Peak, a lovely stop off at Salt Creek Falls, the classic beauty of a mountain lake in Odell Lake ... If you decide to take 58, be sure to turn off 58 at the west end of Odell Lake for some fantastic views of the lake. Salt Creek Waterfall has the greatest magnitude of any waterfall in Oregon, and there are several trails. One gives a view of Diamond Creek Fall.

The highway will bring you out on Hwy 58 just west of Oakridge. Be sure to stop at McCredie Hot Springs just off the highway. There's a wayside for parking on the river. McCredie features several warm pools. You'll find it just beyond mile post marker 45 if you're heading east, & mile post marker 46 if you're heading west. 58 offers scenic views of Diamond Peak, a lovely stop off at Salt Creek Falls, the classic beauty of a mountain lake in Odell Lake ... If you decide to take 58, be sure to turn off 58 at the west end of Odell Lake for some fantastic views of the lake. Salt Creek Waterfall has the greatest magnitude of any waterfall in Oregon, and there are several trails. One gives a view of Diamond Creek Fall.

If you'd really like to get away from it all, have a little vehicle clearance & don't mind a few miles of gravel & dirt road, take the turn to Crescent Lake at Crescent Lake Junction on 58. FS 60 loops around Crescent Lake & will bring you out further east on Hwy 58. However, if you don't loop around Crescent Lake, but just skirt the western bank, turning right to Summit Lake, you'll eventually crest & come down along a scenic reservoir outside Oakridge. Brad calls this the Crescent Oakridge "Inback" Loop. Postings should get you there, but you might want to bring an Oregon atlas or Forest Service Map. There are several mountain lakes out here. Indigo Lake is, as the name implies, quite beautiful. June Lake, in the same vicinity, has its own charm.

58 comes down on Hwy 97, leaving you with approximately a 50 mile drive before turning off. Oregon Hwy 97,north or south, broadly speaking, is generally straight and flat. It's a truck route & somewhat monotonous with a few worthy nearby points of interest & more if you're willing to drive a fair distance off the highway as indicated on the map.

If you want to take the alternate route don't turn right on 126, but instead take the McKenzie Scenic Hwy route, 242, to Sisters. It will take you on a series of switchback curves up the side of the mountain -- it's not open in the winter. The western slope offers wild Azaleas in the early summer & the colors of vine maple in autumn. We also found a wonderful little hideaway. It's not marked on the road, but if you're heading to Sisters it will be on your left. Look for a meadow, with car tracks heading off to the left. There will be evidence of picnic fires. Stop and park, walk on one of the paths that lead into the forest, and you'll come across an unexpected beauty.

Leaving here, you'll approach the summit, and the vista changes, offering rugged, volcanic beauty, as well as, great views of several of the major peaks in the region. Stop at the viewpoint. Climb to the unique structure built of stone that blends in quite well with the surrounding area, and you'll get views of Washington, Jefferson, the Three Sisters, Belknap Crater and Black Butte. You'll be able to catch a glimpse of Mt Hood in the distance and track the solidified lava flows originating at different mountain peaks. Be sure to look at our Guide of Scenery on the McKenzie Pass.

When you arrive in Sisters, you have the choice of taking 20 into Bend, which, unless you're an avid explorer on the gravel of Forest Service Rds., would probably be your best choice. However, I feel I should mention Three Creek Rd, or 16. 16 originates in Sisters and will take you south to Three Creek Lake. At Three Creek Lake, you'll leave this "improved" road, and take NFD 370. When you have the option of turning right or left, turn right to stay on NFD 370. 370 connects with the Cascade Lakes Hwy, & that's a great place to be.

A simpler approach to the Cascade Lakes Hwy is to drive into Bend & then head west on Century Drive Hwy. Century Drive Hwy will curve round Mount Bachelor & eventually turn into the Cascade Lakes Hwy. In the north, which is where you'll be, the Cascade Lakes Hwy offers picturesque mountain lakes, rock & lava flow formations and volcanic lava sculptured landscape outlooks. There are also numerous trailheads to wilderness areas & lakes, etc. The middle portion is mainly reservoirs with the exception of North & South Twin Lakes. The south offers unusual lava flows & scenic timber stands. If you look at the map, you'll see that the Cascade Lakes Hwy connects with the Crescent Cutoff Rd. When you reach the intersection, go either east or west, either way, you'll connect with 97 and drive that last 50 or so miles on a truck route. Still, everything that has come before should make it all worthwhile.

While we're talking about Hwy 97, I'd like to mention an alternative, but considerably longer route to take to the retreat or as any trip fringing the Oregon "Outback." Watching the mile markers on Hwy 97, you'll see a sign for Silver Lake somewhere around the 225 mile marker. If you turn off 97 here, and drive east, you'll drive through Klamath Marsh. You'll see expansive marshlands, outstanding classic ponderosa stands, dry lake flatlands fringed by scenic ridges & mesas, occasional antelope & hot springs. Follow this route to 395, head south until you get to Lakeview, and then take 140 east until you see the sign for the Sprague River Hwy or a directional marker for Chiloquin. Turn off 140 at this point. (If you take 140 into Klamath Falls, you'll just have to backtrack to the retreat on Hwy 97.) Follow Sprague River Hwy. As the miles count down, and you're eyes are accustomed to the distances, look off to your left somewhere around the 25 mile marker and you might see the Badlands in the distance. When you see the 2 mile marker you'll know you're almost to Chiloquin Ridge Rd. When you see the power station, you are at Chiloquin Ridge Rd. Turn left at the power station. Drive a little over a mile, and you'll see our sign - Nature Retreat. If it's dark, the sign won't show up very well, but the yellow reflectors will. When you do see the sign, turn right into the retreat, and you're here.

 
   seasonal waterfall in the cascade mountains of oregon.

Forward ~ The West Cascades National Scenic Byway,
Map, the northern section.

Back ~ Suggested Sites on the Shasta Trinity Travel Tour.

USFS: The Willamette National Forest.

USFS: Deschutes Ochoco National Forest.

The West Cascades National Scenic Byway, 220 miles
of unparalleled beauty, one vista after another: the Cascade
Mountains, hiking trails, waterfalls, mountain lakes, old growth forests, spectacular lava flows, volcanoes, wilderness areas
and more: Travel Directions, Map, page 2, and Scenery.

  

Travel Oregon and northern California while staying at Gathering Light ... a retreat located
near Crater Lake in the Klamath Basin of southern Oregon.

   cabins on the river at gathering light ... a retreat located in southern oregon near crater lake national park: cabins, tree houses on the river in the forest.

You may want to bookmark this page before clicking these links.

Travel to Gathering Light .... a retreat on the West Cascades National Scenic Byway: Directions and Map and/or the Willamette
Pass, Hwy 58: Directions, Map and Scenery.

Travel Directions to and Day Trips of about 100 miles from the retreat.

Little known Scenic Places near the retreat and Crater Lake: hiking without trails, mountains, wetlands, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, river gorges and more: Directions, Map and Scenery. Local Maps Introduction.

  

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Contact Brad at Gathering Light ... a retreat.