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Which Highway to Take?

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Annapolis, Maryland
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Which Highway to Take?

We will be in Oregon for the first time in mid-August and staying a couple of days in Bend. We are planning to take a large, scenic loop drive from Bend (routes #20, to #??, to #126, to #19, to #58, to #46, and to #372) but we're not sure whether to take route #242 or #20/#126 from Sisters to McKenzie Bridge. We will probably have time for only one of these routes. Which one would be the best as far as viewing the mountain scenery, etc.? Thank you.

Eugene, Oregon
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1. Re: Which Highway to Take?

It took me awhile to figure out the route numbers, but I think I have it now.

My advice would be to take the Old McKenzie Hwy (#242) from Sisters to the McKenzie Hwy (#126). It's supposed to be open all the way by August. This will take more time than going on #126 all the way because of its many twists, turns and vistas (and a stop at the Dee Wright Observatory, from which you can see every peak from Hood to Diamond on a clear day).

You'll then turn left (west) on #126 to the Aufderheide National Scenic Byway(I had to look up the number, which is #19). That will take you to Westfir and Oakridge along the #97, which would take you over Willamette Pass. Before you reach the #97 I am supposing you want to turn north (left) on Forest Road #46, which will lead you to onto the CAscade Lakes Scenic Byway. Most forest roads are concerns, but I am guessing that this one gets a lot of traffic and is well maintained...but others will have to chip in with their experiences.

Before you reach the summit on Willamette Pass, you'll want to take a little time to see Salt Creek Falls, the second highest waterfall in Oregon. What is really different about these falls is you start out at their top and have to go down the easy to follow trail to get the best look at the falls.

Eugene, Oregon
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2. Re: Which Highway to Take?

Add the short hike to Proxy Falls to your list of things to do along Old McKenzie Hwy (242). It's not too far from the junction with 126.

Oregon
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3. Re: Which Highway to Take?

An article in today's paper sounds like 242 could be closed. It might be best to check on tripcheck.com closer to the time of your trip.

Vestal, New York
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4. Re: Which Highway to Take?

Forest Rd. #19 was fine when a took it a few years ago. If you are interested in an excellent hot springs experience, check out Cougar (short hike from the beginning of your #19 route).

I also recommend Proxy Falls if you can get to it.

A favorite day hike of mine off of #126 (near Sahalie Falls and Clear Lake) is the hike along the McKenzie River to Tamolich Pool. I'm not sure if this will be near where you will enter #126 as I'm not sure where #77 is.

If you are interested in a slight detour back towards Eugene on #58, Waldo Lake is worth checking out (second deepest lake in Oregon). Very beautiful and peaceful when I was there.

The Cascade Lakes drive (#46) is a must do - you will see the Three Sisters, Mount Bachelor and several amazing lakes along the way.

Eugene, Oregon
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5. Re: Which Highway to Take?

Let's not confuse things.

"Forest Rd. #19 was fine when a took it a few years ago. If you are interested in an excellent hot springs experience, check out Cougar (short hike from the beginning of your #19 route)."

DON'T BE PUT OFF by the "Forest Road" designation. This is officially the West Cascades National Scenic Byway. Fully paved and easy driving (especially during fall colors season). Cougar Dam is certainly worth a look (it's at the beginning of #19 as youleave #126). Cougar Hot Springs used to be a risky hippie hangout with lots of nudity and drugs, but has been cleaned up in recent years thanks to a fee being charged and better enforcement.

"A favorite day hike of mine off of #126 (near Sahalie Falls and Clear Lake) is the hike along the McKenzie River to Tamolich Pool. I'm not sure if this will be near where you will enter #126 as I'm not sure where #77 is."

IF THEY GO VIA #242 (Old McKenzie Hwy) they will NOT pass Sahalie Falls or Tamolich Pool. By the way, last year, the snow was so heavy that the "invisible falls" at Tamolich were real waterfall. And, it's 97, the major north-south highway through Bend, not 77. And the newspaper article said #242 should be open by August. If not, your suggestions regarding Sahalie, Tamolich, etc. are good ones.

Annapolis, Maryland
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6. Re: Which Highway to Take?

Thanks for your ideas and suggestions on these routes. Also, thank you for the highway website. We will definitely check to see if the road is open before we go. Sounds like we will have great scenery whichever way we go.

Oregon
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7. Re: Which Highway to Take?

Official info on hwy 242, per the state of Oregon, is available at:

oregon.gov/ODOT/…McKenzie_Pass_Project.shtml

Oregon
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8. Re: Which Highway to Take?

I could follow that route except #372. #46 is Cascade Lakse Scenic byway and goes right into Bend. when you drive that be sure to pull off to a couple of the lakes to see the views over them, just driving along road you miss some of the bestElk Lake and Lava Lake are two.

Poppa is right if you take 242 through to 126 you will miss Sahahlaie Falls, and I always enjoy a stop at Clear lake near there, I suggest you consider driving from Sisters to McKenzie Pass then back to Sisters an 20/126. The part on 242 from McK Pass to 126 is nice but less scenic than 20/126. plus it is narrow and crooked.

Bend, Oregon
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9. Re: Which Highway to Take?

The gate to the north end of the Cascade Lakes Highway was opened yesterday (just in time for the Memorial Day crowds...) - deschutes.org/go/…index.cfm

10. Re: Which Highway to Take?

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