OR – Central Cascades Jaunting (Oct 2021)

By October the focus of my jaunt had turned from wildfire smoke to fall colors. I landed in the Bend area where I enjoyed several nearby hikes.

Whychus Creek, Deschutes National Forest

There are several trailheads where you can access Whychus Creek including the Scenic Overlook, which is where I started.

I found some lovely fall foliage.

Clear Lake and McKenzie River, Willamette National Forest

The Clear Lake Loop Trail takes you around the perimeter of this 142 acre lake.

The McKenzie River National Recreation Trail connects at the southern end of Clear Lake. Along the Waterfall Loop Trail you’ll find Sahalie Falls, with an approximate 100 foot drop and an impressive amount of water flowing especially for October.

The double flow coming out of Koosah Falls makes it distinctive and recognizable, at least at this time of year.

The vine maples stole the color show.

Dee Wright Observatory, Willamette National Forest

According to the USFS website, “completed in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the observatory was named in memory of Dee Wright, the crew’s foreman who passed away the year before. On a clear day, you can view Mt. Washington, Mt. Jefferson, the South, North, and Middle Sister, and even see Mt. Hood, 78.5 miles to the north.” On this day, two of the three Sisters were visible but the others were mostly shrouded in fog.

It was 28F when I arrived. This hoar frost was a good indicator.

The crystals were amazing.

I walked the Lava River National Recreation Trail learning all kinds of interesting factoids. One that stuck with me was that it takes about 1,000 years for enough soil to accumulate in a lava field for a tree seedling to take root.

Sparks Lake, Willamette National Forest

According to the USFS website, “Approximately 370 acres of lake wetland are surrounded by another 360 acres of meadow, marsh, or stream wetlands. The spectacular setting is dominated by South Sister towering to 10,358′ elevation, Broken Top to 9,175′, and Bachelor Butte to 9,065′.”

I love the colorful geology on South Sister and the other Central Cascades Mountains.

The Ray Atkeson Memorial Loop Trail was a nice blend of geology, volcanic forests and views.

The forecast was hard to imagine after this beautiful day.

I was happy to awake to rain instead of snow but the forecast was enough to push me south.

I even found some blue sky on my drive.

Adventure Date(s):

  • October 7-9, 2021

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