McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway
A ride you will always remember, the McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway is a breathtaking journey up and over the Cascade Mountains along Highway 242. Starting in Sisters, Oregon and finishing in the McKenzie River community of Rainbow, this 36.1 mile (58.10) ride is challenging but rewarding.
The road traces an 1860s wagon route, and is listed on the U.S. Register of Historic Places. During the winter and often through the spring, the highway is closed to motorized vehicles. This is a boon for bicyclists who can access the picturesque switchbacks for traffic-free cycling after the snow has melted but prior to the road re-opening (check road status).
- McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway Map & Cue Sheet (PDF)
36.1 miles (58.10 km) / Challenging
One of the most stunning sights is at the Dee Wright Observatory near the summit. Gaze across a barren lava-rock landscape to majestic snow capped peaks. The observatory itself is a fascinating structure composed of lava rock and built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s. An interpretive trail and information panels identify the unique eco-system features and the distant glistening mountains. A trailhead to the Pacific Crest Trail is here too.
After a photo opportunity, roll downhill through old growth forests on curvy narrow roads. Caution is recommended during descent on minimal shoulder portions of the roadway. Camp lakeside or switch gears with some short roadside hikes. Proxy Falls is a worthy one mile (1.6 km) jaunt to two distinct waterfalls.
We recommend finishing the journey at Belknap Hot Springs Resort or one of the many lodges along the McKenzie River. Reward yourself with a soak in the Belknap Hot Springs, a camping and RV resort with two hot spring-fed swimming pools. Located beside the beautiful McKenzie River, this unique retreat is the ideal spot to celebrate a cycling accomplishment.
While you are in the vicinity, don't miss hiking or mountain biking on the 26 mile McKenzie River Trail (MRT). Complete your adventure with a float down the river on a raft or in a drift boat.