|The Old McKenzie Highway (#242)|
After trekking about three quarters of a mile through giant old growth trees and lichen covered lava rock in the Three Sisters Wilderness area (within the Willamette National forest), she reached the stunning 226 foot high upper falls, nestled in a forest of tall evergreens.
|Sitting in front of Upper Falls|
The water cascades over basalt columns which are covered with beautiful dark green moss. The falls are fed by springs from the North Sister, which is the oldest of the Three Sisters peaks (North, Middle and South), and it is one of the largest in the Cascade Range. It stands at over 10,000 feet high.
After Barbie took a few moments to enjoy all the beauty that was surrounding her, she was back on the trail hiking towards her next stop; the icy pool and lower Proxy Falls. The upper falls is the most impressive, but certainly the lower falls is well worth the visit!
Back at her car, her drive continued until she reached the awe inspiring Lava Beds and Dee Wright Observatory. You can’t help but marvel when you approach the basaltic lava which spreads in all directions for miles.
|The Lava Beds Stretch for miles|
The observatory (or the castle as some refer to it), is a lava stone structure built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corp. There are viewing ports inside the building which aim at specific peaks and volcanic craters.
|Dee Wright Observatory|
|Barbie sitting in one of the viewing|
ports. This one points to Mt. Washington
|Large Open Window Inside the Observatory|
At the top of the overlook, which is at an elevation of over 5300 feet, there is a 36 inch bronze 360 degree site locater. It points to and shows the elevation of the major peaks in the Cascade Range; The Three Sisters, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, Black Butte, Belknap Crater, Mt Hood, and others. It is quite the vista!
|The Site Locater at the top of the Overlook|
|Taking a break at breathtaking Sahalie Falls|
The volume of whitewater that runs over the falls year round is incredible! When it reaches the pool below and hurtles downstream, it becomes incredibly clear.
|Sahalie Falls (Highway 126)|
There’s a trail that runs along the McKenzie River to another worthy waterfall, Koosah Falls, which if time permits is also quite a nice hike. Unlike the Old McKenzie Hwy, OR 126 is open year round (except for occasional closures due to heavy snow). The view of the falls when shrouded in ice is one you will not soon forget.