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McKenzie Pass Toll Road - Updated Itinerary

  • 7 Oct 2023
  • 8:30 AM
  • 3



McKenzie Pass Toll Road

Leader: Dick Bryant

Saturday October 7th, 2023

Registration Opens: Saturday, September 23rd

Coordinator: Bob Timmer

Limited to 15 Participants

The McKenzie Pass Toll Road started in 1862 as a way for freight wagons, pack horses and live stock to get from the Willamette Valley to Central Oregon. The person that started the road was a fellow by the name of Felix Scott. His route avoided going thru the extensive lava fields at the summit of the pass. Instead he crossed the crest further south up near the north side of the north sister. This route was about 1000 feet higher in elevation. Because of this the road was impassible much longer in the year due to the heavier snow pack. This made it impractical, so it became unusable due to lack of maintenance. In 1872 fellow by the name of John Craig formed a new company, which took over the road. He rerouted the higher portions thru the lower lava fields. Much of the old road thru the lava is visible today.


Meet: Bi Mart parking lot in Sisters. East side near the highway. Arrange for rides

Time: 8:30 AM

Here are the stops:

*Mileage 0.0 - Leave Sisters, Drive up Highway 242 towards the Pacific Crest trailhead

* Mileage 8.0 (pull-off on right) Site of Bend Skyliners ski jump, toboggan run, and small lodge established in 1928

* Mileage 14.7 (pull-off on right) Dee Wright Observatory constructed in 1933-34. Vault toilet 

* Mileage 15.2 (pull-off on right) PCT Trailhead on north side of highway. We will hike approximately 300 yards to the east entrance to the old toll road as it ascends into the lava fields and then about another 150 yards along the old toll road. Total round-trip distance 1/2 miles.

*Mileage 16.7 (pull-off on left) - Craig Lake. Possible walk about 1/2 mile to west entrance to the wagon road across the lava fields. 

*Mileage 17.0 (pull-off on left) John Craig monument 

*Mileage 20.7 (turn-off on right) Scott Lake turnoff and Scott Trailhead. Park at the trailhead. We will follow the trail across the highway for a short distance. This would be the route of the original Felix Scott road.

*Continue drive into Scott Lake and park on left side of road at the Bensen/Tenas Lakes Trailhead. Vault toilets. We will walk to one of the walk-in picnic tables along the west side of Scott Lake for lunch. We will take in the view and hike a short distance along the north side of the lake. This would have probably been the re- route as developed by John Craig.

 *End of Field Trip - Stop at the Dee Wright Observatory if desired.

*Arrive Sisters. Visit the Sisters Coffee House if moved to have a cup of Joe.


*When driving to the summit of McKenzie Pass via highway 242, be aware! The road is narrow, with no shoulders. It has a lot of tight curves with short sight distances. You might encounter bicyclists ascending the pass, and they will be in your lane. Be extremely careful in passing as there may be traffic coming down. Hopefully an early start will eliminate much of this problem.

* Should be cool but bring a hat.

* The old road thru the lava is walk able, but stout hiking shoes and hiking poles are recommended.

* Bring water a lunch and a camera.

Questions, contact BobTimmer, Trip Coordinator, at BobTimmer@yahoo.com

Mailing address: PO Box 8146 Bend, Oregon 97708-8146

Email: ascoinfomail@gmail.com

"Archaeological Society of Central Oregon" is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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