Traveling the Willamette Pass
in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon.
  diamond peak in the cascades of oregon viewed from the willamette pass, oregon hwy 58 - odell lake in the foreground.

Forward ~ Crescent Lake "Inback" Tour.

Back ~ The Aufderheide on the West Cascades National Scenic Byway.

USFS: The Willamette National Forest
and USFS: Deschutes Ochoco National Forest.

Brad and I invite you to explore the Willamette Pass and Enjoy Oregon! Travel Map and Scenery.

 
 

Diamond Peak and Odell Lake on the Willamette Pass.

 

Our Getaways offer written Directions, Maps and suggested scenery, spanning Oregon and northern California; places Brad and I have visited and loved. These getaways offer simplicity, yet beauty in scenery, waterfalls, hiking trails, campgrounds, mountains, hot springs, mountain lakes, equestrian trails, mountain biking trails, wild and scenic rivers, scenic byways, Crater Lake National Park, national monuments & more.

Protect our National Forests and Wilderness Areas. Leave NO Trace!
Be sure to check out fire conditions at the Ranger Station before traveling,
hiking or camping in the forest.

Beginning in the Willamette Valley: Access Hwy 58, or the Willamette Pass, as it's also known, on I - 5 just south of Eugene. The sign says Klamath Falls. That's the exit to take.

Driving east, past Pleasant Hill, along Lookout Point Reservoir, watch for trailhead signs on the right, there's a lovely and quite easy hike along a small creek with a graceful waterfall a short distance into the forest. The trail does continue after the waterfall if you care to see where it goes; I have not done this myself.

Black Canyon Forest Service Campground is on this stretch of the road. Shady Dell too, but one must have reservations for this this campground.

Much of the more exceptional scenery waits to begin after Oakridge, Oregon, at the 31 mile marker. One can, however, access the Auferderheide just before Oakridge for beautiful views of the north fork of the Willamette River, swimming holes, old growth forests if that's a preference. For this journey, if you want to continue on the Willamette Pass, continue into Oakridge. The town offers Greensprings, a rest/park/picnic area situated along the Willamette River. A stop here gives a nice break if you've been driving awhile. Find it on your right at the east boundary of town, stop, picnic, cross the bridge over the Willamette River and hike back into the forest ...

Right after Oakridge, another option rather than the Willamette Pass is available, check it out if you're interested.

If you decide to continue on the Willamette Pass:

  • Camping is available at Blue Pool Forest Service Campground just before mile marker 45, and McCredie hot springs are right after mile marker 45. McCredie offers two rather large pools alongside the highway. Clothing is optional, so be prepared if this makes you uncomfortable.

  • Salt Creek Waterfalls, a day use area, comes not long before the summit. I've spent many hours at this waterfall, sometimes simply enjoying the waterfall, other times hiking into the forest: Too Much Bear Lake is a small mountain lake on the trail just beyond Salt Creek Falls. If you continue hiking along the trail, or cross country skiing (the trees are well marked with the diamond markers for cross country skiing), you'll come to another waterfall visible from the ridge above. The trail doesn't lead up to the actual fall, but it's possible to get a nice view. Continue on and the trail forks: hike south to Falls Creek Falls or turn and make a loop back to Salt Creek Falls. There's a different waterfall on this segment of the trail; one I've not yet hiked to.

  • Enjoy the many views coming right up after Salt Creek Falls: the mountains, Diamond Peak, Odell Lake - drive around the Lake for some great views if you choose; Waldo Lake Wilderness area. Waldo Lake is beautiful offering many hiking trails, but many have not recovered from the fire that burned through there a few years ago. Waldo Lake and Odell Lake both offer camping. The scenery on the west end of Odell Lake offers our favorite vista at that lake. We always park on the wide spot on the side of road opposite the lake and climb around on the bank, just enjoying the views. We've seen Bald Eagles flying over the lake, and that is a magnificent sight.

  • Crescent Lake accessed on Forest Service Road 60 at Crescent Lake Junction. Crescent Lake offers swimming, camping, fishing, access to hiking trails in the area, access to Diamond Peak Wilderness area, and hiking trails. The roads may not be good. You might want to check at the Forest Service station on the western outskirts of Oakridge just to make sure, also, to obtain any other information about campgrounds, hiking trails, etc. Brad and I have hiked to Indigo and June Lakes out here. Indigo Lake, as the name implies, is a beautiful cerulean color, contrasting sharply with the white mountain stone on the other side of the lake. June lake is charming, for me, I'd pick Indigo Lake first, which is just what we did. :-) Crescent Lake, June and Indigo Lakes and Diamond Peak Wilderness Area can also be accessed taking the "Inback" Tour.

Hwy 58 offers a couple of alternatives on the eastern side of the mountains. If you choose, just continue on until it connects with Hwy 97. Hwy 97 travels north south, paralleling I-5. Surprising though it may seem, crossing the Cascade Mountains from the Willamette Valley and traveling south on Hwy 97 is shorter than taking I - 5 to California. For that reason many truckers use the road winter and summer. I'll leave it to you to decide which you'd rather take if you're heading into northern California. Hwy 97 does offer some spectacular views of the mountains, Mt Thielsen just south of Chemult, Mt Scott, which forms the eastern rim of Crater Lake south of that. Hwy 97 also offers easy access to other scenic points: Christmas Valley, Fort Rock, Silver Lake, Summer Lake and hot springs ... and the views of the Cascade Mountains along Klamath Lake are magnificent. Overall, I'd say that other routes are more beautiful than Hwy 97, however.

The other alternative Hwy 58 offers is the Cascade Lakes Highway. Turn east off Hwy 58 when you see the sign for Crescent Lake (the town, not the lake - this is further east beyond Crescent Lake junction.) When you see the sign for Crescent Lake, turn and head east until you see the sign for the Cascade Lakes Hwy. Find, many mountain lakes, campgrounds, fishing, reservoirs, mountains, scenery ... The road will eventually connect with what used to be called Century Drive. I looked last summer and the signs I saw still said Century Drive. As I understand it, however, the road is now supposed to be known as the Cascade Lakes Hwy all the way into Bend. Mt Bachelor is easily viewed and accessed from this part of the highway. Keep traveling, and you'll come out in Bend.

Obviously, any choice you might make will depend on where you want to go ... :-)

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Travel Oregon and northern California while staying at Gathering Light ... a retreat
near Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon.

Travel on the Willamette Pass, Hwy 58 to Gathering Light ... a retreat: Travel Directions and Map: hiking trails, mountain lakes, waterfalls. Diamond Peak Wilderness and more.

Travel Directions to and Day Trips of around 100 miles the retreat.

Little known Scenic Places, opportunities to photograph nature untrammeled: hiking, sightseeing, wildlife viewing, birding, and more, all near to Crater Lake and the retreat: Travel Directions Map & Scenery.

Bald eagle fishing on klamath lake in klamath basin near gathering light ... a retreat in southern oregon, near crater lake national park: cabins, tree houses in the forest on the river.

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Contact Brad at Gathering Light ... a retreat.

Cormorant in the tree at Wood River Wetlands, one of the birding trails not far from Crater Lake National Park and the retreat.