Cycling McKenzie Pass, Oregon

McKenzie Pass, OR - scottileona.com

Greetings!  Last weekend I took a glorious break from the never-ending Portland house hunt and headed out to Sisters, Oregon with a friend.  We went to ride our bikes over McKenzie Pass, which is a scenic bikeway in Central Oregon.  The road is closed during the winter and in spring it first opens just to cyclists, providing a car-free exploration of this beautiful region.  The forest varies from one side of the pass to the other, from high desert ponderosa pines through 2,000 year old lava fields and a finale through lush green forests with waterfalls.  Here’s a promotional video about the bikeway from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department 🙂

We left Portland Friday afternoon after work and camped at the Olallie at McKenzie Bridge campground, which is located off McKenzie Highway 126.  The campground was really nice and the site we stayed in with some friends is located right next to where the Olallie Creek meets the McKenzie River.  There are few things better than sleeping in a tent next to a rushing river!  ❤

Olallie Campground at McKenzie Bridge, OR - scottileona.com

We started the ride around 12pm from Eurosports bike shop in Sisters – I had some brake issues that needed to be addressed before hitting the 4,000 foot descent.  Note to self: don’t rush out of town for a long ride without checking over my bike for needed repairs!  Despite my last minute repair needs, the guys at Eurosports were super helpful and replaced my back brakes, fixed my front ones, and cleaned out the gunk that had built up from rainy rides to work for a very reasonable price.  🙂

The initial ride up to the Dee Wright Observatory gives you a 2,000 foot gain in elevation, but provides epic views of the surrounding mountains.  We made a pit stop at Windy Point to check out Mt Washington and lava flow that leaves you feeling like you are standing on another planet.  Dee Wright Observatory is a castle-like structure that sits at the summit of McKenzie Pass and is made of lava rock.  From the top, you can see Mount Jefferson, Cache Mountain, Dugout Butte, Black Butte, Bluegrass Butte, Black Crater, North Sister, Middle Sister, Little Brother, Condon Butte, Scott Mountain, Belknap Crater, and Mount Washington.  In clear weather, you can also see Mount Hood and a few other peaks, however it wasn’t quite clear enough for us to clearly make out Hood.  Still, that is quite an impressive list of mountains!

Windy Point, McKenzie Pass, OR - scottileona.com

McKenzie Pass, OR - scottileona.com

Dee Wright Observatory, McKenzie Pass, OR - scottileona.com

Dee Wright Observatory, McKenzie Pass, OR - scottileona.com

After taking in the views and munching on a snack at Dee Wright, we began the trip down the pass.  We passed more lava fields before hitting the really exhilarating part of the ride – steep declines and switchback turns!  We barreled down the mountain on a road flanked by dense trees and the shade was a relief from the sun exposure we had on our way up.  We made a pit stop at Proxy Falls.  Proxy Falls is a beautiful waterfall that is 226 feet tall and doesn’t feed into a stream.  The water from the falls pools at the bottom and sinks through porous lava at the foot of the pool – pretty neat!

Proxy Falls, OR - scottileona.com

Proxy Falls, OR  - scottileona.com

According to MapMyRun, we rode a little over 41 miles and the falls added about 1.5 miles of hiking.  Not too shabby 🙂  I am stoked I checked out that part of this part of Central Oregon and was left with an even longer list of places I’d like to return to!

XoXo,

Scotti Leona ❤

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