Old McKenzie Pass Highway 242

Sisters, Oregon

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This route leads you to the summit of the McKenzie Pass, where the views of the Three Sisters are superb. The mountains are so close you might think you could climb them without much extra effort. However, if you feel like you have it in you, a trip of the entire distance (almost 40 miles) from Sisters to McKenzie Bridge on this road is an Oregon classic. For now, let’s concentrate on the McKenzie Pass, which is a long but satisfying route. It’s 6 miles each way, however, so schedule an early start time. In fact, when you stand wearily atop the McKenzie Pass, you have gone only one-fifth of the entire route across the old highway. The Old McKenzie Highway is closed to vehicle traffic in the winter by formidable snow gates, leaving it entirely to you and your snowshoes. By following a road, you should be eliminating much of the navigational challenge. But be aware that during a snowstorm this place becomes devilishly hard to navigate because of the thin subalpine forests that often give way to large lava fields. When visibility is poor it can be fairly easy to wander off the road and into the Three Sisters Wilderness.

Old McKenzie Pass (Highway 242) Professional Review and Guide

"This route leads you to the summit of the McKenzie Pass, where the views of the Three Sisters are superb. The mountains are so close you might think you could climb them without much extra effort. However, if you feel like you have it in you, a trip of the entire distance (almost 40 miles) from Sisters to McKenzie Bridge on this road is an Oregon classic. For now, let’s concentrate on the McKenzie Pass, which is a long but satisfying route. It’s 6 miles each way, however, so schedule an early start time. In fact, when you stand wearily atop the McKenzie Pass, you have gone only one-fifth of the entire route across the old highway.

The Old McKenzie Highway is closed to vehicle traffic in the winter by formidable snow gates, leaving it entirely to you and your snowshoes. By following a road, you should be eliminating much of the navigational challenge. But be aware that during a snowstorm this place becomes devilishly hard to navigate because of the thin subalpine forests that often give way to large lava fields. When visibility is poor it can be fairly easy to wander off the road and into the Three Sisters Wilderness."

Activity Type: Snowshoeing
Nearby City: Sisters
Distance: 12.5
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Difficult
Season: January through April
Trailhead Elevation: 4,000 feet
Top Elevation: 5,324 feet
Local Contacts: Deschutes National Forest, Sisters Ranger District
Local Maps: USFS Deschutes National Forest; Geo-Graphics, Three Sisters Wilderness Map
Driving Directions: Directions to Old McKenzie Pass (Highway 242)

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May 2018