We headed east for the second day of touring Oregon with Eric’s parents. We could effectively call this day, “waterfall day,” as we checked four waterfalls off the to-do list. We started with a trip down McKenzie Highway (126) to Sahalie Falls. We parked in the lot there, walked a few steps to the viewpoint for Sahalie Falls, and then hiked down to Koosah Falls. The path follows the McKenzie River from one fall to another, and it gets pretty chilly when you get close to the ice cold water, so keep that in mind if you are there on a cool morning, like we were.
From there, we backtracked a little bit to get to the Old McKenzie Highway (242), which we took to the trailhead for Proxy Falls. It’s a pretty easy hike through some lava rock, but it gets a little tricky getting down to the actual falls because the soil is pretty loose. But the view of the falls from below is well worth the effort.
While taking the loop back to the parking area, we decided to follow another path in hopes of reaching a bridge that we saw passing directly over Proxy Falls. Unfortunately, we didn’t find the bridge, but we did stumble upon another waterfall, which ended in a little pool that drained underground. After a little research, I discovered that the first fall we visited was Lower Proxy Falls, and this surprise was Upper Proxy Falls.
From Proxy Falls, we continued on the Old McKenzie Highway toward Bend. The road travels through pretty dense forest until it breaks out into a lava field. It’s a bit desolate out there, but the views of the surrounding Cascade Mountains are spectacular. At the highest point of the Old McKenzie Highway, there’s an observation tower (made entirely from lava rock) with incredible views of the mountains (and the names of all the mountains you can see, for those of us who wish everything in the world was labeled).
We took the Old McKenzie Highway to Sisters (home to Sisters Coffee, which I insist you visit if you ever pass through because it is too cute and delicious), and then followed the McKenzie Bend Highway (20) to Bend. We passed through Bend on our way to Eugene last year during our moving cross-country roadtrip (you can read a play-by-play of that adventure in the August and September 2012 archives) , but we haven’t been back since then, so we were excited to see the town. They may lure me there this year during the dark Pacific Northwest winter since Bend promises 300 days of sunshine a year. Yes, please.
We started our brief time in Bend with a meal at Deschutes Brewery, where I tried my first elk burger (it tastes just like a regular burger, but it’s a bit more dense, in case you were wondering). I felt like we should go back to the elk viewing area we visited the day before so that I could apologize for eating their brethren. But then we had our lives radically changed when we split the peanut butter pie (creamy peanut butter filling topped with a thick chocolate ganache in a malted Oreo crust, drizzled with home-made pale ale caramel). Seriously, I have never had a restaurant dessert that was so incredible. We talked about it for the rest of the day.
Of course, we had to do a little walking with 20 pounds of elk burger and peanut butter pie in our stomachs, so we walked through town and down to Drake Park, which has a nice walking path right along Mirror Pond and the Deschutes River. It was beautiful.
I think we’ll have to add Bend to our list of places to visit this winter in hopes of seeing some sunshine and doing some skiing!