West Cascades Scenic Byway
- DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2000)
- Intrinsic QualitiesScenic
- Length220 miles
This 215-mile drive captures a quintessential slice of Oregon scenery as it winds along the lush western slope of the Cascade Mountains, where some of the state’s best-known rivers spill through timeless fir forests.
Story of the Byway
The West Cascades seem to burst with life, a paradise of green with water at every turn. Mountain lakes are scattered among old-growth forests. Hot springs bubble up from deep in the earth. Winter rains and spring snowmelt feed creeks that tumble down the mountain-side and grow into powerful rivers, like the Clackamas and the Santiam, two of the great waterways that accompany this route. Bring a fly rod, a camera, a mountain bike — or simply the time to explore and enjoy this byway’s beauty.
From Portland: Travel south to Milwaukee (located at the southeast side of Portland) and take SR 224 east to Eagle Creek, and then head south to Estacada. This is the northernmost access to the scenic Byway; From the south: Exit I-5 just south of Eugene and travel southeast on Highway 58. Just before the city of Oakridge, turn north toward Westfir where the Byway begins; From Eugene: Take the Highway 126 east exit from Interstate 5. Continue east on Highway 126 to Blue River. Continue 5 miles, where you then enter the Byway. You can either turn south on Forest Road 19 or continue on Highway 126 to travel north; From Salem: Take Highway 22 east and travel through Mill City and Gates. Continue to Detroit Lake, and then you can either turn north at the junction of Forest Road 46 or continue south on Highway 22 to travel the Byway.
Points of Interest
A designated Wild and Scenic River, the gorgeous, jade-green 1 Clackamas River carves a deep canyon south of Estacada.
Mt. Hood National Forest
East of Portland, 60 miles of forested mountains, lakes, and streams
Riverside National Recreation Trail
Winds along the river’s east bank under fat hemlocks and firs
Willamette National Forest
In the central portion of the Cascsade Range with 7 major peaks.
Marion Forks Hatchery
Chinook salmon and rainbow trout are raised for release into nearby rivers and lakes
A mineral-springs spa has operated for nearly 150 years.
Belknap Covered Bridge
Spans 120 feet meters and is strong enough to support logging trucks. There has been a covered bridge at the site since 1890. This bridge was built in 1966, after a flood destroyed the previous one.
Delta Old Growth Nature Trail
A half-mile loop among centuries-old western red cedar https://www.google.com/maps/place/Old+Growth+and+New+Growth+Trailsemail@example.com,-123.2970343,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x54c03e41ce0186dd:0xf07a561e1a619426!8m2!3d44.6385568!4d-123.294845and Douglas fir.
Three Sisters Wilderness
Sprawling alpine region with hiking, glacial lakes, and meadows.
Office Covered Bridge
In Westfir, the barn-red 8 Office Covered Bridge (Oregon’s longest at 180 feet) stretches across the North Fork Middle Fork Willamette River
Discover Rural Oregon
Your journey begins in Westfir, about 40 miles southeast of Eugene on Highway 58, and just north of the town of Oakridge. Westfir marks the beginning of the Aufderheide National Forest Scenic Byway (Forest Service Road 19), named for a devoted forester. You can pick up a free audio cassette that describes attractions between Westfir and Blue River at the Middle Fork Ranger Station in Oakridge, or the Westfir Lodge Bed and Breakfast. The first attraction is the 180-foot Office Bridge, Oregon's longest covered bridge. Here, the road joins the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette as it twists through a canyon lined with 1,000 foot rock walls.
Moving north, you'll soon reach Constitution Grove, which offers a gentle loop trail through a 200-year-old forest. Further north is Box Canyon, site of a log cabin replica of the original Box Canyon guard station (built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in 1933). Deer and elk are frequently seen as the road descends along the south fork of the famed McKenzie River and past Cougar Reservoir. The Aufderheide Byway ends at the Delta Campground. Here, the Delta Old Growth Trail gives you the opportunity to walk amongst Douglas firs and Western Red Cedars up to 500 years old and 180 feet tall.
Oregon Route 22 parallels yet another river system - the North Santiam - as it descends toward Detroit Lake. You'll pass Marion Forks, where you can tour an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife hatchery; a campground here offers easy river access if you want to try your luck for planted rainbow trout. The road flattens as you reach the recreational hub of Detroit, a popular destination for boaters, fisher folks and other lake lovers. Detroit offers ample services, including restaurants, lodging, fishing supplies, and boat rentals.
In Detroit, turn right on Forest Road 46, and follow the Breitenbush River into some of western Oregon's most pristine wilderness. You can stop for a refreshing soak at a natural hot springs resort, or stretch your legs on the 2.5 mile South Breitenbush National Recreational Trail. A short side trip from the main trail leads to an impressive gorge, where the Breitenbush River passes through narrow basalt. A seven-mile detour brings you to the Olallie Lakes Scenic Area and the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area. Here, countless lakes can be accessed from developed trails; a small seasonal resort provides services. At Ripplebrook, the Byway joins Oregon Route 224 and parallels the "Wild and Scenic" Clackamas River to Estacada.
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