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Santiam Wagon Road Trail: McKenzie River Trailhead

Willamette Foothills, Oregon

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Santiam Wagon Road Trail: McKenzie River Trailhead

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  • Trailhead sign for Santiam Wagon Road as well as the McKenzie River Trail.- Santiam Wagon Road Trail: McKenzie River Trailhead
  • Interpretive sign for the Santiam Wagon Road at the trailhead.- Santiam Wagon Road Trail: McKenzie River Trailhead
  • Interpretive sign for the Santiam Wagon Road at the trailhead.- Santiam Wagon Road Trail: McKenzie River Trailhead
  • Santiam Wagon Road trail marker.- Santiam Wagon Road Trail: McKenzie River Trailhead
  • Sign along the Santiam Wagon Road indicating use of trail.- Santiam Wagon Road Trail: McKenzie River Trailhead
  • Fall foliage along the Santiam Wagon Road Trail.- Santiam Wagon Road Trail: McKenzie River Trailhead
  • The Santiam Wagon Road Trail in the Willamette National Forest.- Santiam Wagon Road Trail: McKenzie River Trailhead
  • The Santiam Wagon Road is a great place to hike in the fall.- Santiam Wagon Road Trail: McKenzie River Trailhead
  • The Santiam Wagon Road trail in the Willamette National Forest.- Santiam Wagon Road Trail: McKenzie River Trailhead
  • Fall colors along the Santiam Wagon Road Trail.- Santiam Wagon Road Trail: McKenzie River Trailhead
  • The Santiam Wagon Road Trail in the Willamette National Forest.- Santiam Wagon Road Trail: McKenzie River Trailhead
  • The Santiam Wagon Road Trail in the Willamette National Forest.- Santiam Wagon Road Trail: McKenzie River Trailhead
  • The Santiam Wagon Road Trail in the Willamette National Forest.- Santiam Wagon Road Trail: McKenzie River Trailhead
  • Fall foliage in the Willamette National Forest.- Santiam Wagon Road Trail: McKenzie River Trailhead
  • Fall leaves line the trail along the Santiam Wagon Road.- Santiam Wagon Road Trail: McKenzie River Trailhead
  • A small bridge near the trailhead. - Santiam Wagon Road Trail: McKenzie River Trailhead
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Less crowded. Historic markers.
Cons: 
Small parking area at trailhead.
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Region:
Willamette Foothills, OR
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
550.00 ft (167.64 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
6.00 mi (9.66 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
3,100.00 ft (944.88 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

The Santiam Wagon Road stretches along the Central Cascades from Lebanon in the Willamette Valley to Sisters in Central Oregon. The old road was once one of the main routes people traveled over the Cascade Mountains from 1865 to 1939 (when Highway 20 was completed). Originally it was a Native American seasonal route that was scouted by settlers and became a more established travel route with supply points, toll gates, campgrounds, and roadhouses. Interestingly, most travelers were not heading west, but rather people with livestock traveling east to reach the grazing pasture lands of Central Oregon and markets in eastern Oregon.

The wagon road was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. Today, sections of the road have become multi-use trails, maintained by the Forest Service, with access points along Highways 20 and 126. Most of the trail is open to hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. Some sections of the road that have received improvements are open to wagons or pre-1939 vehicles through a permit system.

This section of the road/trail is fairly easy with views of lava fields from the Crater Nash lava flow about 3000 years ago, as well as old-growth forests. In the fall the trees put on a good show with the changing colors of their leaves. The trailhead has interpretive signs about the historic road as well the McKenzie River Trail. It is open to hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders.

The trailhead has a small parking area, but no other amenities.

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