McKenzie Highway 242 paved bicycle route
Description: If Three Creek road and Greenridge (see below) aren't enough for you climbers out there, there's always the out and back ride west from Sisters to the McKenzie Pass on Hwy 242, although the traffic can sometimes be considerable. Arguably one of the most beautiful rides in Central Oregon, the route transitions from the Ponderosa forests around Sisters, through lodgepole and fir forests, past Windy Point, to the open, often windswept lava flows at McKenzie Pass with stunning vistas of the Three Sisters in one direction and Mount Jefferson in the other. This 32 mile scenic route consists of some 4 miles of constant climbing before Windy Point, for a total elevation gain of 2,143' at the pass. At the top, in the midst of extensive lava fields and Cascade peaks, you'll find the interesting rock-constructed Dee Wright Observatory for a chance to take a break and stretch your legs. Spring (typically until mid June) riding is some of the best there is, when the road above the snow gate (9 miles from Sisters) is relatively clear but still closed to motorized traffic – giving cyclists miles of beautiful, traffic-free riding. Check with ODOT Region 4 around June for road conditions and the scheduled opening of the gates. Watch for rocks in the spring before the road is officially open. Cyclists can continue past the Observatory for a descent to Scott Lake (which adds about 12 miles to the roundtrip and another 500’ of climbing), passing through lava fields with stupendous views of the Three Sisters mountains and then into the flora of the wetter side of the Cascades. For an even longer ride, continue to Belknap Hot Springs (where cyclists can relax and refuel), adding to the roundtrip another 46 miles and 4,000’ of climbing through beautiful forests and along a series of switchbacks that offer fantastic views over the wooded Cascades to the west and south. A long, dazzling ride from the desert to nearly the rainforest.
Access: Start at Sisters Village Green – take Hood St. north, and then left onto Highway 242.