Cascade Mountains

A Scenic Trip Through Oregon and Washington

Cascade Mountains

The Cascade Mountains situated in the northwest corner of the United States are one of the world's most beautiful mountain ranges with many scenic vistas of year round snow capped peaks over 10,000 feet framed by vivid green forests.

The Cascades are a mecca for the adventurous traveler with a huge variety of outdoor activities including hiking, mountain climbing, snow-shoeing, skiing, fishing, and many excellent places for overnight accommodations including national park lodges, resorts, and rustic campgrounds.

Washington's Most Popular Mountain Peaks

Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier
Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape. An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A., spawning six major rivers. Subalpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier's lower slopes.

Mount Rainier National Park offers over 260 miles of maintained trails for your enjoyment. Trails lead through the peacefulness of the old-growth forest of the river valleys and the high sub-alpine meadows on the flanks of Mount Rainier. From the trails you can explore and experience the forests, lakes, and streams and view the fields of wildflowers and network of glaciers

From the south west, year round access to the park is via SR 706 to the Nisqually River Entrance in the southwest corner of the park. The road from the entrance to Longmire remains open throughout winter except during extreme weather. The road from Longmire to Paradise closes nightly from November 1 through winter. It reopens the following morning dependent upon snow removal. Using GPS, the address 39000 State Route 706 E, Ashford, WA 98304.

Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens
Mount St. Helens is known for being the most deadliest eruption in the history of the United States. The eruption on May 18, 1980 killed fifty-seven people, destroyed 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railways, and 185 miles of highway. The eruption reduced the elevation of the mountain's summit from 9,677 ft to 8,365 ft, replacing it with a 1 mile wide horseshoe-shaped crater.

The Monument Visitor Centers including Johnston Ridge and The Forest Learning Center, located inside the blast zone are the two places to visit.
The photo of Mount St. Helens is the eastern side taken from Highway NF-25.

Oregon's Most Popular Mountain Peaks

Mount Hood

Mount Hood
Mount Hood, the highest mountain in Oregon at 11,245 feet is the second most climbed mountain in the world, after Japan's Mount Fuji.

This Oregon landmark visible up to a hundred miles away, is also a year round mecca for outdoor adventure seekers who come for mountain climbing, skiing, snowboarding, and hiking.

Three Sisters

Three Sisters
The Three Sisters are three volcanic peaks of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon, each of the three which exceeds 10,000 ft in elevation. They are the third, fourth, and fifth highest peaks in the state of Oregon and are located about 15 mi southwest from the town of Sisters, Oregon.

Popular Oregon Scenic Attractions

Koosah Falls

Koosah Falls
Koosah Falls is the second tallest of the three falls of the McKenzie River. The river drops over the cliff 64 feet into a huge pool. During the peak of snow melt in the Spring, the river spreads out upwards to a 70 foot wide wall of beauty.

During the summer the falls trim to one or two segments.

Elevation above sea level 2710 ft. Near milepost 5 on Highway 126 turn off at sign for Koosah Falls and Icecap Campground. Head left at the junction, and park near the rest rooms. View points are reached via a short walk.

Proxy Falls

Proxy Falls
Proxy Falls is one of the most frequently photographed waterfalls in Oregon and is certainly among the most photogenic waterfalls in the entire country. Fed by springs from the Proxy and Shadow Creeks, The falls reach a height of 230 feet, dropping into two segments into a pool that drains underground except at high water.

Elevation above sea level 3210 ft.

Five miles east of McKenzie Bridge turn right onto Highway 242 Past milepost 64 look for a widened area of the road with a rest area. The trail to the falls starts on the side of the road opposite the rest rooms. The trail to the falls is set up as a loop. The First segment is 1800 feet in length where you traverse course, jagged volcanic rocks. To reach the Lower Falls turn right onto a 500 ft long segment to the overlook. The base of the falls can reached farther down this segment.

Sahalie Falls

Sahalie Falls
Sahalie Falls is the tallest of three major waterfalls along the McKenzie River, dropping as high as 74 feet. Sahalie is also made popular as the falls shown in the Disney movie "Homeward Bound".

During periods of high snowmelt, the falls are split into two segments and during most of the year they can be seen as a single segment. Reports have been made that the falls varies from heights of 72 feet to as having reached a peak of 140 feet

Near milepost 5 on Highway 126 turn left at sign for Sahalie Falls. The falls are viewed up close within 100 feet from the parking lot..

Silver Falls

Silver Falls
Silvers Falls is Oregon's largest State Park. Located 23 miles east of Salem, OR on Highway (OR-214), It is spread out over 9,000 acres in a temperate rain forest of Douglas-fir and Western hemlock trees and features ten awesome waterfalls. The park offers camping, overnight group facilities, picnic shelters, swimming, playgrounds and more than 25 miles of multi-use trails. Not to miss is the the spectacular 177-foot South Falls (shown at left)

Clear Lake

Clear Lake
Clear Lake is approximately half an hour's drive west of Sisters, located at milepost 72.4 on Highway 126. The lake is known for its crystal clear waters with a maximum depth of 200 feet and an average water temperature of 43 degrees year-around. The lake forms the headwaters of the McKenzie River and is fed by snow run-off that passes through miles of volcanic rock, coming into the lake virtually pure. Being a few degrees above freezing, it is virtually free of algae. A hike around the north end of the lake takes you to Great Springs where the clear water just flows out of the rock.

The McKenzie River, one most consistent rivers in the northwest, originates in Clear Lake (photo above) and is known for maintaining a very volume of water flow year round. This condition is the result of a large drainage area to the northeast which consists largely of plains of lava flows. Water doesn't linger on the surface and seeps underground, forming one of the larger aquifers in Oregon. The waterfalls of the McKenzie River also known for their height.

Terwilliger (Cougar) Hot Springs
One of the more popular of Oregon's natural hot springs can be visited year round. As you pass Cougar Reservoir You should see a small shack/kiosk on the right and a parking area on the left.

The hot springs has six shallow pools. A short hike takes you to the six natural pools. Access is permitted during days only and is strictly enforced by the Forest Service. Nudity is not permitted in the vicinity; however, clothing is optional in the pools.

Suggested Trip Route

Begin your journey at Mount St Helens. To get to the The Forest Learning Center, take I-5 Exit 49 to Highway 504 (Spirit Lake Memorial Highway) and continue east to Milepost 33.

After visiting Mount St. Helens, continue on to Mt. Rainier. Head back to I-5 and head north to exit 68 taking Highway 12 east to Morton, WA. Continue north on Highway 7 to Elbe, then onto SR 706. From the south west, year round access to the park is via SR 706 to the Nisqually Entrance in the southwest corner of the park. The road from the entrance to Longmire remains open throughout winter except during extreme weather. The road from Longmire to Paradise closes nightly from November 1 through winter. It reopens the following morning dependent upon snow removal. Using GPS, the address 39000 State Route 706 E, Ashford, WA 98304

After visiting Mt. Rainier, exit through the south east Stevens Canyon entrance on the Ohanapecosh River and head south taking Highway 123 through Packwwod along highway 12 to Randle and south onto WA-131 that becomes NF-25 through Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Stop off at the overlook with a scenic view of the eastern side of Mount St. Helens. Take NF-90 into Carson, WA. (Note NF-25 and NF-90 are closed seasonally from Nov 1 to Apr 30). At Carson, WA take WA-14. Continue east crossing over The Columbia River via the Hood River Bridge into Hood River, OR. Continue onto US-30/OR-35 and follow OR-35 to Mt. Hood.

After leaving Mt Hood, head south on OR-35 toward Pearaday Orchard Rd. Merge onto US-26 E toward Madras/Bend. Turn right onto Oregon Skyline Rd/NF-550. Continue to follow Oregon Skyline Rd (Note portions of the upcoming roads may be closed seasonally from Nov 1 to Apr 30). Oregon Skyline Rd becomes NF-42 Turn left to stay on NF-42 and turn left onto Clackamas River Rd/NF-46. Continue to follow NF-46 and turn left onto N Santiam Highway/OR-22 to Detroit, OR. Continue on as OR-22 merges onto US-20. This portion of the drive overlaps with the McKenzie-Santiam Scenic Byway. Head east and onto OR-126. Continue south on OR-126, the drive parallel to the McKenzie River and stop off at Clear Lake on the left. Continue onto Koosah and Sahalie Falls stopping off to hike and view the top two falls on the McKenzie River.

Continue on past McKenzie Bridge to the Cougar Reservoir turnoff on Forest Road 19, between mileposts 45 and 46. The Cougar Reservoir is a 6-mile lake with swimming, fishing and boating and spectacular views. Continuing onto the Terwilliger Hot Springs.

After leaving Terwilliger Hot Springs, continuing on to Proxy Falls by heading back to McKenzie Bridge. Five miles east of McKenzie Bridge, turn right onto Highway 242 past milepost 64.

To extend your trip to Three Sisters mountains, head north on OR-242/Old McKenzie Highway toward NF-1624. Continue to follow OR-242 (Portions may be closed seasonally from Nov 1 to May 3) to W Cascade Ave. Turn right onto W Cascade Ave/US-20/OR-126. Continue on US-20, merging onto US-97 S toward Mt. Bachelor/Klamath Falls. Turn slight right onto Cottonwood Rd, enter next roundabout and take the 3rd exit onto E Cascade Rd. Continue on E Cascade Rd. and take the 2nd exit onto W Cascade Rd.    Turn left onto Bachelor Rd. Take the 1st right onto Sisters Lane.

Places To Stay

Paradise Inn
Mount Rainier National Park, WA
Built in 1916 and designated as one of the "Great Lodges of the West" this historic guest lodge sits in the shadow of Mount Rainier surrounded by mountain meadows lush with wildflowers. Miles of hiking trails just outside the front door lead to adventures in all directions and offer panoramic views of glaciers and waterfalls.

Columbia Cliff Villas Hotel
Hood River, OR
Situated on the edge of a 210' cliff in the Columbia River Gorge, this boutique hotel offers master suites, balconies and several guest suites providing a panorama of mountains, forests, valleys, cliffs and rivers.

Five Pine Lodge & Spa
Sisters, OR
This 10 acre property with the Three Sisters Mountains in the backdrop, has cozy cabins, deluxe lodge suites, an outdoor heated pool in the summer months. This is an ideal location for mountain bikers and hikers.