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.