The Old Cascades

Wildflowers along the incomparable Iron Mountain Loop.

Wildflowers along the incomparable Iron Mountain Loop.

Shelter Falls on the Middle Santiam River, just below Shedd Camp at the edge of the Middle Santiam Wilderness.

Butterflies on a Cascade lily on the slopes of Bachelor Mountain, July 2014.

Rainbow over Sahalie Falls on the McKenzie River, January 2019. There’s almost never a bad time to hike along the McKenzie River, but I particularly love coming here on sunny days in the winter when the crowds are gone and the rainbows are at their most intense.

31. Stahlman Point and Blowout Arm

32. Coffin Mountain

33. Bachelor Mountain

34. Bachelor Mountain via Bugaboo Ridge

35. Daly, Parish and Riggs Lakes

36. Scar Mountain and the Old Cascades Crest

37. Three Pyramids

38. Middle Santiam River via South Pyramid Creek

39. Cascadia State Park

40. Rooster Rock and the Menagerie Wilderness

41. Santiam Wagon Road

42. House Rock

43. Gordon Meadows

44. Iron Mountain

45. West Browder Ridge

46. Echo Basin and Hackleman Grove

47. Crescent Mountain

48. East Browder Ridge and Heart Lake

49. Clear Lake

50. Sahalie and Koosah Falls

The Old Cascades are aptly-named: this range of mountains to the west of the Cascade’s great volcanoes predate their more explosive cousins by many millions of years. These Cascades are of volcanic origin as well, and the soil is highly fertile. As a result, you will find some of the finest wildflower meadows in the region.

The valleys of the Old Cascades also harbor some of the finest stands of ancient forest left in Oregon, but also some of the state’s most ghastly clearcuts. You’ll see both traveling through the area. Take the time to appreciate this highly complex blend of rock pinnacles and rounded peaks, of tall trees and vast clearcuts, and of wildflower meadows and quiet canyons. The beauty of this area is how all of these blend together seamlessly. Even all of the clearcuts help illustrate the struggled many faced saving the special places in this area.

Of the six regions in this book, this one is by far the least well-known to area hikers. It is my arbitrary distinction, but to me the Old Cascades encompasses the high peaks between Detroit Lake and US 20 north to south, and from the foothills to OR 22 west to east. While some hikes such are crowded and well-loved, many other hikes are isolated and solitary, and it is in these places that you may find a peace and quiet that fills mind, body and soul.