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Thread: McKenzie Pass to open Wednesday

  1. #1
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    McKenzie Pass to open Wednesday

    McKenzie Pass is certainly the most spectacular scenery you can drive through in Oregon and it's only about 40 miles from Redmond. This ride was featured in the May BMW ON. From the rally site it's a nice 3 hour round trip, riding time. Only you will NOT want to just ride this without stopping for the scenic views.
    http://www.ktvz.com/news/24026893/detail.html


    Here is the article I wrote for this ride, please note, I'm NOT a good writer. Maybe that is why my article wasn't used in the News.

    SISTERS OREGON AND MCKENZIE PASS RIDE

    If you only have half a day to go riding at the Rally, this is the one to take. It has the most spectacular road in Oregon, incredibly close up mountain views, lava fields, hiking trails, waterfalls and crystal clear mountain lakes. It can be done in three hours riding straight through, and is a very nice ride. But try to make a day of it and enjoy this great ride.

    From the fairgrounds, go to Hwy 97 and turn north to Redmond. Look for the highway sign and left turn on Hwy 126 to Sisters. It’s 20 miles to Sisters with increasingly better views of the Cascade Mountain volcanoes. Sisters is the last place for gas on this route for the next 100 miles and eateries are few and far between.

    Sisters is named for the Three Sisters Mountains, three 10,000’ snow capped peaks just west of town. The town is small, about 1700 people, but LONG on shopping. It has an 1880’s theme in its architecture. There are many restaurants, deli’s, coffee stands and a very popular bakery. All are located on the main drag through town or one street to either side. Gas up, feed up, coffee up and get ready for some fabulous country coming up.

    Go all the way through Sisters till you are just leaving town. Take a left hand turn to the McKenzie Pass Scenic Route, Hwy 242. You enter Deschutes National Forest very soon after leaving town. Ride up through very scenic Ponderosa Pine forests. As you climb you move into Sub Alpine forests. The forest will suddenly open up to open views of the lava fields and Mt. Washington at Windy Point Viewpoint. This is a must stop for a photo op.

    A few miles past Windy Point the road enters the lava fields. This is where the road changes character. For the next 30 miles FORGET about going fast. It is very narrow and twisty. It was newly paved in 2009 so the road surface is in great shape. Keep your eyes on the road and stop often to look around.

    At the summit of McKenzie Pass is Dee Wright Observatory. It is a lava rock structure built by the CCC in the 1930’s. Take a walk to the top and get the best views of the surrounding mountains you can find. Portals built into the structure point to all of the surrounding mountains and peaks. Starting at the Observatory is a half mile long paved trail through the lava fields. It’s a good place to stretch the legs and learn about lava flows from the info plaques.

    Proceeding on, you go by several hiking trails and access to some lakes. Soon you come to Deadhorse Grade. About 10 miles of 10, 15, and 20 M.P.H. corners as you drop in elevation. You simply have to go slow and take you time. The biggest hazard is 4-wheeled cages coming up the grade and freaked out about the narrow road. Toward the bottom of this stretch is a parking area and hiking trails to Proxy Falls. This hike is not very long and has very interesting terrain and vegetations along the trail. The two falls are worth seeing also.

    The road now enters a Douglas Fir Old Growth forest. It’s straight smooth and level till it come to the intersection with McKenzie Hwy. A left takes you to Eugene (take the left to get to the Aufderheide Forest Drive). You want to turn right on Hwy 126, the Clearlake Cutoff.

    Its 20 miles to the Santiam Hwy and along the way you go by two falls on the McKenzie River that can be driven to, Kosah Falls and Sahalie Falls. Both are worth stopping and seeing. If you like, there is a hiking trail all along the river and between the two falls. A couple miles up the road is a turn off with a short drive down to Clear Lake. There is a small hamburger/sandwich shop where you can also rent rowboats for the lake. The lake has some of the clearest water in existence and the remnants of trees can be seen still standing up from the bottom in the upper lake. These trees were drowned 3000 years ago when the lake was formed by a lava flow.

    A few miles farther and you merge to the right with Hwy 20, South Santiam Hwy, going east. A few miles farther, the highway merges right with Hwy 22, the North Santiam Hwy. Pop up over Santiam Pass and drop back into the Eastside of the mountains. In the pass area are turnoffs to Hoodoo Ski area, Big Lake picnicking and access to the Pacific Crest Trails system, a trail from Canada to Mexico. Dropping down the pass is a viewpoint with another nice view of Mt. Washington and access to Suttle Lake and Suttle Lake Resort.

    Next stop is Sisters and a return home to the fairgrounds.

  2. #2
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    My brother and I rode the 242 on our way to the last National. It's one of the tightest roads I've ever been on, and I felt that my '82 RS just couldn't get out of it's own way.

    After the ride, we stopped in Sisters for a wobbly pop and talked about a bike that would "work" on that road, and I came up with the 50 c.c. Chesterfield Aprilia (road) race bike. But it wouldn't have enough torque to get out of the corners.

    On further reflection, a 450 supermotard would be good, perhaps one of the new BMW's.

    The road is so cool, it would be worth it to truck in a lightweight machine, and run it a bunch of times.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  3. #3
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    Thank you Oregon DOT. I could use a cool rode as I'm from the desert. VegasRob

  4. #4
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    Can't thank you enough for sharing this!



    Voni
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  5. #5
    Pressing #1 for English! tictac's Avatar
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    I will be traveling from Portland, OR to the Rally site on July 15th.
    Good chance I can be on the road by 9:00am.
    It would be nice to ride McKenzie Pass. My GPS tells me to stay on E-26 and US97 to get to the Rally site.
    I can take I-5 to Eugene and pickup 126 to 242 to 97 and I am at the Rally site too.
    Also I can take 20 to 126 to 242 to 97 Redmond.
    What is the most scenic rout combine with McKenzie Pass on the way from Portland to Redmond #20 or #126?
    I don't care if I get to the Rally site by 9:00pm
    Thanks.
    Last edited by 104554; 06-27-2010 at 07:27 AM.

  6. #6
    look out!!! Visian's Avatar
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    i love this road and plan to ride it as i head toward the Aufderhide byway and remote camping in points south.

    this article is fine, it may have just slipped through the cracks at the ON.

    ian
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  7. #7
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    Most scenic route

    104554,

    Your GPS is correct for most direct route. The McKenzie highway from Eugene is a beautiful ride up along the McKenzie River, but the 100 miles of I-5 are NOT. My personal choice would be the 20 to 126 to 242, South Santiam to Clearlake Cuttoff to McKenzie Pass. Hwy 20 has very little traffic, it's very scenic and has a lot of fun twisties as well. On this route the last place to gas up before Sisters is Sweet Home, make sure your full at that point.

    If you have the time I would not take I-5 to Albany and the start of 26. There is some wonderful farm country roads to the East of I-5 that will also get you to this route. From Oregon City on I-205 near Portland, take 213 south. This will take you to Silverton. From Silverton, continue South to Stayton and on to Scio and Lebanon. Any of the roads in this area are interconnected and it's fun to just start taking any road in the area and work your way south. This area is the heart of Oregon farmland. You can't get lost and you will see some really great country.

    If you would like some GPS coords I can put that together. Feel free to ask any specific questions.

    John Beeson

  8. #8
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    Ian

    Thanks for the kind words. It didn't slip thru the cracks. A better article on this same ride was submitted. It was a more entertaining read than mine. I'm not in the least bothered by this. I posted mine here because I thought mine was a little more for just riding the route and knowing what to see.

    If it isn't used in the July issue, I'll post my "BEST PAVED BACK-COUNTRY ROUTE TO THE RALLY" that I wrote.

    I was born and raised here. My father loved to travel the backroads and camp (guess i know where i got this from). As a Forester I've worked in every corner of the state. As a rider I've been on almost every road in the state (there are a few minor ones I haven't hit, but they are on my list :-). I know I'm bragging, but not many know this state as well as I do. I love this state and love helping people find the really great places.

    John Beeson

  9. #9
    Registered User Bob_M's Avatar
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    Another scenic route

    Quote Originally Posted by 104554 View Post
    What is the most scenic rout combine with McKenzie Pass on the way from Portland to Redmond #20 or #126?
    If you want to get right into the mountains and stay there, Just east of Portland is the town of Estacada on Hwy 224. This road follows the scenic Clackamas river through the Cascades. Just past Ripplebrook the road becomes Route 46 and it continues on to Detroit lake on Hwy 22. You can get gas and a burger there. Continue South East on 22 to Hwy 20 and go west for a few miles to the junction of 126. This is your road from Eugene and in this stretch it runs almost north/south. Continue south on 126 to the intersection with 242 and go east on this to Sisters.

    The route is all paved and pretty sweet.

  10. #10
    RIDEOREGON
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    Suggested Day ride

    Here's my suggestion for a full day ride out of Redmond that will route you over the Old McKenzie Pass. No need for a GPS, these roads are on the maps:

    Redmond is in the high desert just on the eastern edge of the Cascades. This route will take you up over the Willamette Pass into green lush forest and return over the McKenzie Pass thru the high lava fields with excellent views of the major volcanic peaks. The route is good pavement and suitable for any motorcycle. J

    From Redmond travel Hwy 97 south to Bend. Here you want to pick up Century Drive. Some maps show this as road #46. (just follow the signs to Mt. Bachelor and you'll be fine).
    Follow Century Dr past Mt Bachelor and the high Cascades lakes. Continue south to RT 58.

    Go West on 58 up and over Willamette Pass. Everything will start looking greener and the trees will be getting larger, especially on the western slopes.
    .
    When you get to the town of Oakridge have lunch and fuel up.

    Depart Oakridge continuing west for about a mile and look for the turnoff to Westfir on your right. This will be RT 19 (Aufderheide Drive). Follow RT 19 north. This road skirts the Three Sisters Wilderness. At Cougar Resevoir there is a hotspring in case you're inclined for a soak. After Cougar Resevoir, RT 19 will intersect RT 126.

    Take a right heading east on 126. You will cross the McKenzie river at McKenzie Bridge. After a few more miles you want to look for the turn off for RT 242 which is the old McKenzie Pass route. This is a tight narrow road that takes up thru the the lava fields. There's a nice view point at the top of this road.

    Continue on 242 to the town of Sisters and on back to Redmond.

    While this route can be ridden in the opposite direction, this clockwise version would be my recommendation.

    Enjoy!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by rideoregon View Post
    Here's my suggestion for a full day ride out of Redmond that will route you over the Old McKenzie Pass. No need for a GPS, these roads are on the maps:

    Redmond is in the high desert just on the eastern edge of the Cascades. This route will take you up over the Willamette Pass into green lush forest and return over the McKenzie Pass thru the high lava fields with excellent views of the major volcanic peaks. The route is good pavement and suitable for any motorcycle. J

    From Redmond travel Hwy 97 south to Bend. Here you want to pick up Century Drive. Some maps show this as road #46. (just follow the signs to Mt. Bachelor and you'll be fine).
    Follow Century Dr past Mt Bachelor and the high Cascades lakes. Continue south to RT 58.

    Go West on 58 up and over Willamette Pass. Everything will start looking greener and the trees will be getting larger, especially on the western slopes.
    .
    When you get to the town of Oakridge have lunch and fuel up.

    Depart Oakridge continuing west for about a mile and look for the turnoff to Westfir on your right. This will be RT 19 (Aufderheide Drive). Follow RT 19 north. This road skirts the Three Sisters Wilderness. At Cougar Resevoir there is a hotspring in case you're inclined for a soak. After Cougar Resevoir, RT 19 will intersect RT 126.

    Take a right heading east on 126. You will cross the McKenzie river at McKenzie Bridge. After a few more miles you want to look for the turn off for RT 242 which is the old McKenzie Pass route. This is a tight narrow road that takes up thru the the lava fields. There's a nice view point at the top of this road.

    Continue on 242 to the town of Sisters and on back to Redmond.

    While this route can be ridden in the opposite direction, this clockwise version would be my recommendation.

    Enjoy!
    +1 on this ride

    Mark
    R1200GS
    Heritage Softail

  12. #12
    Registered User beemerron's Avatar
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    242

    I'm camped at McKenzie Bridge and I'll be the first one over on Wednesday. I'll stop by the Ranger Sta. tomorrow and find out what time they swing the gate. Wanna join me?
    Ron R

    #39306

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by beemerron View Post
    I'm camped at McKenzie Bridge and I'll be the first one over on Wednesday. I'll stop by the Ranger Sta. tomorrow and find out what time they swing the gate. Wanna join me?
    I'm going Weds but leaving Bend & going west.

    Mark
    R1200 GS
    Heritage Softail

  14. #14
    bendrichard
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    Video

    Here's a link to a 7 minute video my GF and I made riding over the pass on Thursday.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kEixDcXcJk

  15. #15
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    That's a great first post!
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

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