Autumn Oregon

With reports coming in of peak color in Willamette National Forest, we decided to take a drive in the direction of Sisters, Oregon which is on the eastern edge of the Willamette Forest. Our route took us from Eugene, east on Hwy 126, over Santiam pass on Hwy 20/126 to Sisters. After driving around Sisters, […]

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With reports coming in of peak color in Willamette National Forest,
we decided to take a drive in the direction of Sisters, Oregon which
is on the eastern edge of the Willamette Forest.

Our route took us from Eugene, east on Hwy 126, over Santiam pass
on Hwy 20/126 to Sisters. After driving around Sisters, and of
course, stopping at a quilt shop, we looped around to Hwy 242 and
returned by way of McKenzie Pass to Hwy 126, and back toward Eugene.

 

The October day was bright and sunny, with a blue sky, and a few
high Cirrus clouds in places.

The first peak color we noticed was near the junction of Hwy 126 and Hwy 20.

 

The contrast of the colorful yellows, oranges, and reds
against a backdrop of evergreens was awesome. The drive up toward
Santiam Pass was spectacular. Throw in a few waterfalls, small
lakes, and towering distant mountains, and it get’s hard to take a
bad photo.

Good mountain views of Three Fingered Jack, Broken Top
Mountain, and Mount Washington were frequent.

Along the Santiam Pass leg of the loop we made stops at Sahalie
and Koosa Falls, beautiful water falls worth the short walks to view.

 

Clear Lake was lined with colorful foliage with kayaks matching the
colors of the leaves.

A side road to Hoodoo ski area and Big lake
gave us great views of Mount Washington.

Camp Sherman with it’s popular general store was worth our brief
stop.

The nearby headwaters of the Metolius River, with it’s waters
bubbling up from the ground, and it’s view of Mt Jefferson looming in
the background, was reached by a nice short walk on a paved path
between rustic fences.


The town of Sisters, with it’s art galleries, antique stores, and
boutiques is popular and quaint.
It is home to a well known rodeo, an incredible outdoor quilt
show, and a popular folk music festival at other times of the year.

The three sisters peaks, (Faith, Hope, and Charity) tower above the
town.

Picking up Hwy 242, we started the second leg of our drive over
McKenzie Pass. The road is narrow and winding with good views of
forest and vistas. Windy Point turnout gave us our first view of the
65 square mile lava fields.

I was not prepared to see lava fields,
and turning the corner and seeing it for the first time made me feel
as if I had landed on another planet.

 

Miles of jumbled rock as far
as you can see was a stark contrast to the forest, lakes, and streams
we had just been through.

 

The summit of McKenzie Pass puts you right
in the middle of the lava fields. There is piled up lava rock
literally in every direction. A short climb to the Dee Wright
Observatory,

built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corp, gives
you an incredible “other world” view with six lofty
mountain peaks ringing the lava fields.

 

Our drive down McKenzie pass gave us views of the best fall color
of the trip. Every turn (and there were many) along the winding
descent opened up the beautiful contrasts between the autumn colors
and the dark green pine forests.

 

The last miles along the McKenzie River was a perfect finish to a
perfect day. This was one of our best day trips.

 

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