Enter the lush western slope of the Cascade Mountains and you are in an Eden of green with water at every turn. To the east you’ve got the every popular Pacific Coast Trail, and to the west you’ll find Mt. Hood National Forest, scenic lakes and rivers, not to mention historic covered bridges and hot springs that bubble up from deep within the earth.
Interested in a loop around the West Cascades Scenic Byway? Just be sure to bring a fly rod, a mountain bike, and definitely a camera to enjoy any or all of these West Cascades offerings.
Biking and Hiking
If the bicycle is your travel mode of choice don’t miss the Aufderheide and Oakridge-West route – otherwise known as the mountain bike capital of the northwest. This seasonal route features smooth ribbon of pavement, a cathedral of trees above and the sound of a rushing river beside you — it doesn’t get much better than this road. You can ride the Aufderheide with equal pleasure from either direction (as a 130-mile round-trip it’s grueling); it’s a classic up- and-over, letting you work hard for the first half and enjoy the fruits of your labors for the rest. Along the way you’ll follow a fork of the Willamette River and pass Cougar Reservoir; consider a dip in the Terwilliger Hot Springs near the reservoir.
Just outside the mountain town of Oakridge offers world- class mountain biking trails, great hiking routes and majestic water-falls. Known as the “Mountain Bike Capital of the Northwest,” Oakridge lures fat-tire enthusiasts every summer with Mountain Bike Oregon for two weekends of guided rides, demos and riverside camping.
Hot Springs & Covered Bridges
If you are traveling with kids, there are many unique, family-friendly events along this corridor. Try the McKenzie River Chainsaw Art Festival and the Oregon Lavender Festival during the summer months, or enjoy the hot springs almost all year round.
Belknap Springs is a mineral springs spa that has operated for nearly 150 years. Farther west past McKenzie Bridge, the Belknap Covered Bridge spans 120 feet and is strong enough to support logging trucks, and has a covered bridge at the site since 1890.
Farther up the road you’ll find Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center, a privately owned resort in the sylvan old growth forest setting. Open year-round, this unique resort offers hot springs, a sweat lodge, and a variety of workshops.