We didn't have as much time to explore as I wanted, but here are some more photos from Maupin OR. I didn't get a photo of the city park that is right on the river and offers camping and amenities (see Maupin City link above).
I had checked out dining options ahead of time and thought The Riverside restaurant looked good. Our rafting guide raved about them, and we were delighted with their great food, large plates, interesting decor. The dishes may sound ordinary, but they are anything but! They have outdoor dining, but with the temps in the 90s, we were glad to eat indoors. https://www.facebook.com/riversidemaupin
All along the Deschutes River are places to picnic and camp, many with vault toilets and tables. Blue Hole has an accessible fishing dock as well.
I set out to explore as much of the Oregon Trail as I could manage. My goal was to start from the California & OregonTrail Center at the border of Wyoming and Idaho, in Montpelier ID, then check out the Soda Springs area, and Fort Hall. I just couldn't manage all that in our week in Boise, and the California & Oregon Trail Center isn't open til summer anyway. I had a hard time finding out if there is anything about the Oregon Trail at present day Fort Hall, but at last I found some sites that mention it. See below--
California & Oregon Trail Center, Montpelier ID
Photos of sites along the Oregon Trail I have been able to visit:
along the Snake River, the Columbia River, the Barlow Route overland, and the Applegate Trail in Southern OR
Shoshone Falls of the Snake River, Twin Falls ID--has info about the local Native Inhabitants and more;
Twin Falls and area info: https://www.tfid.org/545/Play
Glenns Ferry ID-- https://www.glennsferryidaho.org/visitors/
Three Island Crossing State Park, ID near Glenns Ferry--the museum tells the stories with both sound & visuals
Bonneville Point Interpretive Site, overlooking Boise ID (day area, no services, take water & desert precautions)
Idaho State Museum, Boise ID-- https://history.idaho.gov/location/museum/
Forts Boise, at Boise and Parma ID
There were two Forts Boise, the older on the western border of Idaho kept getting flooded out, destroyed, deteriorated. Another Fort Boise was built in Boise, but it has not survived either. Now in its space is a large park--I didn't see any marker or memorial there.
Old & New Fort Boise
Rest Area at Ontario OR, I-84 (just over the border with ID)
I didn't get the chance to check out the interpretive site of the Snake River Crossing at Nyssa OR, the interpretive site at Keeney Pass or Alkali Springs near Vale OR, or historical sites in Vale OR itself. Perhaps another time. But the rest area at Ontario has much to recommend it--though a welcoming center was closed when we were there (either for COVID or April is too early in the year). This is the beginning of a great series of Oregon Trail pavilions at rest stops and such across Oregon.
Farewell Bend State Recreation Area, OR--26 mi northwest of Ontario OR
At Farewell Bend the Snake River heads north and through Hells Canyon. The Oregon Trail sought the Columbia River to the northwest, as it bends its way west from the north. The Farewell Bend State Rec site says it offers accessible camping, cabins & yurts (pets ok), flush restrooms and showers, trails, fishing; dump station, boat ramp, and picnicking are not marked as accessible.Farewell Bend, The Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Baker (Geiser Grand Hotel)
Weatherby Rest Area, 38 mi northwest of Ontario OR
Durkee OR--50 mi northwest of Ontario OR (exit 327 from I-84, drive Durkee Rd to Hwy 30 and turn south)
Baker City OR--about an hour and a quarter northwest of Ontario OR via I-84
Oregon Trail sites in Baker City (exit 304): Chamber of Commerce, York's Covered Wagon (food & supplies), Gaiser-Pollman Park, Baker Heritage Museum, and the Old Post Office Square Park . . . at least! For more info and photos, see
National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, trail ruts access, and historic markers on the way
--near Baker City OR; closed for COVID Memorial Weekend 2021, limited opening in 2020
Baker Valley rest area, near the 45th Parallel, I-84 ten miles west of Baker City OR
It's time to stop and take a rest--we have traveled roughly 1700 or so miles from Missouri/Iowa. Emigrants started their journey maybe May, when the trail was not so soggy and grass for feed had a good start. They got to Baker Valley maybe about August. Only 300 or so miles left . . . but rough mountains lay ahead, and for those who rafted down the Columbia River--that was also rough going. More to come in Part 2.
July 1st, 2021, we took a day trip to explore our way around Mt Adams, deciding to travel Hwy 14 along the north side of the Columbia River. We revisited a few places from my previous post https://www.travelpacificnw.com/accessible-travel-blog/columbia-gorge-wa-hwy-14 , which see, and got some better photos that I'm posting here, rather than try to update the other post, which is already rather long.
Here are the places we saw--
Views of the Columbia River from the Cape Horn pull-out
Bonneville Dam from the Dam Access Rd off Hwy 14 WA
Fort Cascades National Historic Site, Fort Cascades Dr, from (Bonneville) Dam Access Rd off Hwy 14
Windsurfing on the Columbia River, Spring Creek Hatchery Rd
Hwy 141 to Mt Adams
You can take Hwy 141 north just east of Underwood and the White Salmon River, but the more picturesque and awesome route is to continue east on Hwy 14 into Bingen, where you can take Hwy 141 up the hill through White Salmon. You'll be above the White Salmon canyon with some spectacular views. The two routes merge as you continue north. For more info and photos of Bingen and White Salmon (as well as Spring Creek Hatchery and Underwood), scroll down at https://www.travelpacificnw.com/accessible-travel-blog/columbia-gorge-wa-hwy-14
1st views of Mt Adams from Hwy 141
BZ Corner WA
BZ Corners Forest Service launch site-- https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/crgnsa/recarea/?recid=30012
2nd fantastic views of Mt Adams
Trout Lake WA-- https://troutlake.org
Guler-Mt Adams Klickitat County Park--camping in Trout Lake WA
Trout Lake Forest Service Ranger Station
I was anxious to talk to the ranger to find out what places I could go, what is accessible around Mt Adams, and get a map. The ranger station has a window to talk with the ranger, no access or amenities available inside the building. The ranger was friendly and helpful, but it seems Mt Adams recreation is pretty much for horses, hikers, and hardy campers.
We were able to get some maps and directions, and she told us where to find some great photo ops, on Lake Rd (very near the ranger station) and Warner Rd (south of Trout Lake). She also gave us the 2019 Gifford Pinchot National Forest Visitor Guide (with great info and map), and an old publication “Barrier-Free Recreation [in] the Gifford Pinchot National Forest”. It shows 2 accessible sites in the Mt. Adams Ranger District, now that I have a chance to look it over. Neither has a restroom. Peeled Cedar Tree Interpretive Trail has a compacted gravel 650’ trail max 5% grade, 5 interpretive signs. Sawtooth Berryfield Handshake Site has a 200’ asphalt trail max 3% grade, 1 accessible picnic table (nearest restroom at Surprise Lake 1 mi away). The ranger cautioned that the sites have not been maintained.
From Google Maps I see an intriguing Mt Adams viewpoint further up Mt Adams Rd as it becomes NF-23 (stick to NF-23, when other choices come up) between NF-531 and NF-8810.
The places I had wanted to check out from their website are accessed from other routes. Adventures for other days. Check out John Williams’ excellent video “Between the Peaks” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLqRNFBPvUU&ab_channel=ForestService
Lake Road, Trout Lake marsh--Note: there is barely room for 3 small cars to park, and very difficult turning around (sign warns there is no turn around ahead). If you can, you might want to walk in. Otherwise it's chancy.
Warner Road & Stoller Road
Trout Lake Abbey
We drove back on the lower route of Hwy 141, along the White Salmon River. I caught tantalizing glimpses of the river, and there were some pull-outs to get a better look, but without getting out of the car it's difficult to see much of the river between the trees and brush. We did catch some good vistas of Mt Hood from Hwy 141, as well as Hwy 14 (especially good at Underwood and Spring Creek Hatchery--scroll down at https://www.travelpacificnw.com/accessible-travel-blog/columbia-gorge-wa-hwy-14 )
Dog Mtn Trailhead, Sternwheeler paddling up the Columbia Gorge
The Columbia Gorge looking west along Hwy 14--missed getting photos of the best of the spectaculuar scenes as we whizzed along, generally unprepared as chances to pull over appear suddenly.
Prindle WA--Usually I'm flying by and miss the turn to get a picture of the quaint Prindle School, so when I got the chance, I took it! Somewhere I got the notion of there being a Prindle Park, but it was a challenge to find. It’s not where you expect it. It has a Washougal address, but it’s not really in Washougal, either. Between the Cape Horn pull-out and the Prindle School (Prindle Rd), Salmon Falls Rd goes north up the hill (immediately to the right is the Cape Horn Trailhead, and a bus stop). Continue up Salmon Falls Rd to Canyon Creek Rd and turn left (west). In about 2 miles Prindle Park is on the left. It's actually a Skamania county park.
From Prindle WA it's only about 45 min to Portland and the end of a truly happy, glorious day!
The Snake River begins its journey in Yellowstone National Park.
"The Tetons and the Snake River is a black and white photograph taken by Ansel Adams in 1942, at the Grand Teton National Park, in Wyoming. It is one of his best known and most critically acclaimed photographs." Wikipedia. Photo in Public Domain. See also https://www.nps.gov/places/000/snake-river-overlook.htm
Adventures along the Snake River
American Falls—search American Falls Idaho videos for more . . .
1000 Springs, Hagerman ID
From Boise we took off I-84 at Bliss, headed down in the valley of Hagerman/the Snake River via Hwy 30. Hagerman is about 1.5 hours southeast of Boise. I wasn't sure what to expect, and I missed my best opportunity to pull off the road and get a good picture of 1000 Springs. But it is worth seeing. There are other things to see in the area, as the videos above and below will show.
Glenns Ferry http://www.elmorecountypress.com/hilitingglennsferry1.htm
The Boise River, Owyhee River, Malheur River, Payette River, and the Weiser River all contribute to the Snake near Ontario OR.
Hells Canyon of the Snake River
Ways to get to Hells Canyon from Oregon
Hells Canyon Creek Visitor Center, at Hells Canyon Dam
Snake river and Minor Tributaries…Hells Canyon Dam (fish)
Hells Canyon Dam to Pittsburg Landing
Idaho--Hells Canyon & Clearwater confluence
It was a gorgeous day in May, traveling along the Columbia River on I-84. The bright blue skies and the deep blue waters of the river buoyed my heart. One must take care not to be so focused on the road and the destination as to fail noticing the grand gestures of geology, especially east of Hood River. Great layers of rock tilt right into the river, and columns of basalt stand as vertical bastions of the canyon. Memorial Weekend 2021 was still early enough in the spring that the farm fields were agreeably green, late enough not to have tilled up dust devils blowing in the wind.
If you need a break along the way, Arlington OR is just about 2 hours east of Portland and has a delightful family-oriented park on the water, with playground, train car, accessible restrooms, fast food nearby, and information about the area and the Oregon Trail. A motel across the street from the park has been there for many years . . .
My original impetus for going to Baker City was its connection to the Oregon Trail. I had to travel there several times to gather what I wanted. Next it seemed I should include Pendleton, as we traveled through it a few. And if those two, surely La Grande as well. Finally, I decided to include Haines, in the Baker Valley while I was in the vicinity. I would like to have explored Sumpter, North Powder, and Union (near La Grande) likewise--I’ve included some links here, maybe in future I can get a chance to explore more. There are ever more places it would be great to incorporate, but it becomes too much for one article. However, as I needed gas at Boardman on the way home, I did add a few photos to show what it has to offer.
If you don’t stop along the way, Pendleton is only about 3 hours east of Portland, so I was able to visit both the Heritage Station Museum and the TAMÁSTSLIKT CULTURAL INSTITUTE, then go to dinner at Cimmiyotti’s in downtown Pendleton. I almost literally ran into the downtown Farmer's Market that Friday. Downtown celebrates its western heritage with diverting bronze statues. There are plenty of other museums and venues to see in and near Pendleton, including the famous Pendleton Woolen Mills. Generally, around July 4 Wildhorse Resort & Casino sponsors a Native American powwow. The famous Pendleton Round-up is held in September.
The Heritage Station Museum is quite a complex, including also Museum Park that is pleasant for a picnic and has an Oregon Trail pavilion. There’s a schoolhouse I forgot to ask if one can look into. The museum itself has a nice collection of exhibits about the area and history, and within the grounds are a fun wooden train for kids to play on, some military vehicles and a war exhibit in the old signal house that uses every inch of the small building, a train car (not accessible), and a small farmhouse and buildings (farmhouse not accessible) showing what a farmstead was like “in the old days”. Very nice, I thought, and so important a collection for generations to come. It was only $6 to visit, as a senior.
The Tamastslikt Cultural Institute near the Wildhorse resort costed $10, as I remember. They were in process of creating a new exhibit or two, but I found it very interesting, and it showed the past and the present from a Native perspective. No photos or recordings are allowed inside the exhibit halls. They have a restaurant open for lunch, and a gift shop. It's a little hard to find--beyond the Arrowhead Travel Plaza (where tourists and truckers can find about all the services they need for travel), and the Wildhorse Resort and Casino (hotel, restaurants, RV & Tipi camping, cineplex, bowling, golf, pools ...), turn right on Wildhorse Blvd and have patience til you reach the Cultural Institute.
I explored downtown Pendleton on more than one trip. See photos below.
You can cross the Umatilla River to see what’s on the other side, driving north on Main St. You’ll pass Brownfield Park. At NW Despain I think you can turn left (west) and you’ll pass or stop at Pioneer Park (bathroom, playground, power, seating, tables, grill, reservable group shelter). Continue west on Despain to NW 10th St and turn south to cross back over the river right by Roy Raley Park, which is next to the Pendleton Round-Up venue, and across from the Pendleton Round-Up & Happy Canyon Hall of Fame. Roy Raley Park is one end of the 2.5 mi Pendleton River Walk. Roy Raley Park has picnic tables, restrooms, basketball court, winter ice skating and other events.
I have stayed and eaten at the Wildhorse Casino & Resort 2 or 3 times (years before I started this blog), and found the rooms comfortable and accommodating. I wanted to try something else, so I called to see if I could get in at Cimmiyotti’s that eve. Fortunately, they were able to provide me a table. The waitress was friendly and supportive, and helped me choose what would not offend my diabetes. She arranged for a double portion of asparagus instead of the potato option and a shrimp cocktail instead of the deep-fried appetizer that looked and sounded so appetizing. I ordered the prime rib, and it was excellently seasoned and prepared. The gazpacho was great, as was all the food. https://www.virgilsatcimmiyottis.com/gallery
I thought the Pendleton Hampton Inn would be a known quantity, as I had little time to check out other accommodations, but it was definitely not on a par with “Hampton Inn and Suites” I’ve stayed in at other times and places. I was not able to book the room directly so that I could make sure that “hearing accessible” would also be “mobility accessible”, and I could not get ahold of reception to find out either. When I checked in, the receptionist switched me to a ground floor room to be sure it was. They need to hire more staff (if that’s possible in these trying times), but she was helpful with my baggage. I did suggest that the door to the room was way too heavy to manage from a wheelchair with a load of luggage. The room was clean, the view from the window was the back parking lot, they were in the midst of renovating the dining area, but for COVID it was a breakfast box anyway. The pool was closed for COVID. So, the stay was acceptable, but not to rave over. There are several hotels and services along the same road as Hampton Inn.
Traveling east from Pendleton is an immediate climb into the Blue Mountains. I remember as a youngster traveling with my family when there was a real concern about cars overheating on the way up Emigrant Hill (also called Cabbage Hill). We empathized with those cars that did overheat, even as we worried about getting stuck behind them in danger of overheating ourselves. How grateful I am now there are 3 lanes ascending that hill. Trucks must stick to the two on the right.
La Grande OR
La Grande is only about 50 miles SE of Pendleton. Google says the fastest route is I-84 . . . I suppose there might be some other routes, driving all over mountain roads, but let’s say that I-84 is virtually the only route from Pendleton to La Grande. It’s a beautiful route. In the summer it will make you want to live there. I have to remind myself what the winters are like. Still, some people do live between the two cities.
Wikipedia says La Grande was forced to change its name from “Brownsville” (because there was another town of that nomenclature), but how much more wonderful is the name “La Grande” than “Brownsville”?! “Located in the Grande Ronde Valley . . . name comes from an early French settler, Charles Dause, who often used the phrase ‘La Grande’ to describe the area’s beauty. The population was 13,082 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Union County.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Grande%2C_Oregon
I took my usual exit for gas at the Flying J gas & convenience store at exit 265. They have a more reasonable price than most in the larger area, and good amenities. Staff have always been good to me, pumped my gas even though they weren't required. I get someone to go in and ask for help so I don’t have to get out and then heft myself and chair back in the car: a drain on my joints and energy. It's a truck stop, so they have showers, laundry, lounge, game room, and such that truckers would need.
Only 8 min further from the Lodge at Hot Lake Springs, on the La Grande-Baker Hwy (Hwy 203), is the small town of Union OR, about 2100 residents. I’ve heard glowing remarks about the historic hotel in town. Naturally, I would like to check out Union County Museum, with local history and something about the Oregon Trail. And 16 miles SE of Union is Catherine Creek State Park. Their site says they have accessible camping, picnicking, exhibits, and flushing restrooms. Group picnic shelters can be reserved, but if not in use, are open to 1st come 1st serve.
Next priority was to find the Oregon Trail connection in La Grande, as promised. From Flying J, I drove into town on Hwy 30 (which becomes Adams Ave). I followed the signs up the hill into a residential neighborhood to the end of the steep street and surprised 3 deer browsing the yards there. I didn’t find the promised historical site until I came back down B St and noticed an engraved stone against a rock in the corner of a yard!
As I headed up the hill my eye spied a park, so I went back to explore that. It turned out to be Birnie Park, one that I had hoped to check out. That was a connection between the La Grande area and the Oregon Trail. The diverting playground included a representational pioneer wagon for kids to climb on. A somewhat rough path led along a series of interpretive signs about the La Grande portion of the Oregon Trail. There were accessible restrooms, picnic tables, and room to run for fun.
Across from Birnie Park is one end of Eastern Oregon University. https://www.eou.edu/
To arrive at my hotel, the Google Gal led me by another discovery from another era: a drive-in theater! See http://www.lagrandemovies.com
When I contacted places to stay in La Grande, it was difficult to find ADA accessibility. I found a room at Travel Lodge, total $72.27 for a 1 king bed, mobility accessible, non-smoking room. It had a tub/shower with a hand-held adaptation, a frig, microwave, and safe. It’s an older motel, family owned, some renovations. It wasn’t fancy, but I thought it satisfactory, especially on a budget. See photos and
The motel receptionist recommended breakfast at Smokehouse restaurant just across Adams Ave from Travel Lodge. It was a good choice, obviously popular.
Within a block or so of Travel Lodge are a fitness center (across the street), Les Schwab, Safeway, a car wash, a good variety of restaurants. Candy Cane Park (picnic and playground) is probably about a half mile away, but you might need google to guide you. La Grande has a modern side, but as you may have noticed, I am drawn to the historic side—see photos.
More about La Grande OR:
Baker City OR
I have always been attracted to the Baker valley. I find rural valleys rimmed by mountains and their small communities appealing. I love history and historic architecture. Baker City and surrounding communities have all these. Winter ice and snow would be difficult to deal with in a wheelchair, still, I like to visit, and there are ample sights to see and things to do in the area.
A good place to start would be the Baker County Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, right off I-84 at exit 304 (take Sunridge Ln off Campbell St, the main thoroughfare from the highway through town). The Chamber of Commerce has a ramp to the left side as you face the frontl of it from the parking lot at the Quality Inn. Even if they don’t happen to be open you can browse the interpretive signs, with information about the communities in the county, and they have an old pioneer wagon on display.
As you pass East St, it seems to me things start getting interesting: at left is York’s Covered Wagon a something-of-everything kind of store with its awesome map murals (“World’s Largest Map of the Oregon Trail”) and statues of cattle; on the right side of the street is the substantial brick Baker City Armory, and north on Grove St is the Baker County Fairgrounds Rodeo Arena . . .
… south off Campbell St, on Grove St is the Baker Heritage Museum…
… across Grove St from the Museum is the fabulous family & community oriented Geiser-Pollman Park, through which the Powder River flows, with a bridge access to the Baker County Library (also accessed from Resort St and Madison St).
The Leo Adler Memorial Parkway Trail is a pleasant, paved path about 2.5 mi along the Powder River through town. When water levels are good, kids float down the river on inner tubes. But there are access points you can dip your toes in, if you can use your legs . . .
Baker City Central Park is along the Leo Adler Memorial Parkway Trail.
West of Resort St is Main Street, historic downtown Baker City, center of an abundance of antique architecture.
If you continue on Campbell St to 10th St (aka Hwy 30) you can turn north and eventually reach Haines, and beyond that, I-84 or the tiny town of North Powder. Near there are signs marking the 45th parallel, both on Hwy 30 and I-84.
Back in Baker City, South of Campbell St on 10th, Hwy 30 bends into Broadway, and if you travel east on Broadway to Dewey Ave (aka Hwy 7) you can turn south on Hwy 7 to go to Phillips Lake and Sumpter, the Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area, and the Sumpter Valley RR are about a half hour away from Baker City. (South on Hwy 30 takes you back to I-84.)
Exit 302 from I-84 takes you to the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, some heritage markers, and access to old Oregon Trail wagon ruts—a tremendous treat for history buffs.
I enjoyed staying at the Geiser Grand Hotel in historic downtown Baker City. They were accommodating, the ADA room was nice and big with a spacious bathroom. Dinner and breakfast via room service was excellent (the lovely dining room was closed for COVID). They have an interesting small museum of sorts in the basement.
It’s not necessarily easy to find ADA accommodations in Baker City. I stayed a night at the Bridge Street Inn on the Powder River. It’s an older motel that is being updated, renovated. The room they gave me as ADA was down a narrow hall: difficult to turn into and out of the room. The room was pleasant enough, though access to the AC unit was a bit challenging. The shower required a leap of faith to transfer from my chair across a little barrier onto the shower chair. I made it without falling, but it was a close call. Still, I give them credit for trying to make it all accessible, and staff was friendly and helpful. The breakfast bar was better than the Hampton Inn at Pendleton, which hotel was twice the price.
I rolled on over to the intriguingly named Oregon Trail Restaurant for dinner (associated with the Oregon Trail motel--across the street from Bridge Street Inn). Some of the items had Oregon Trail-like names, but it was just a typical café with typical fare. The décor had some interest, and the staff were nice.
One time I stayed at the Quality Inn, just off I-84. It has an associated restaurant I didn’t try, and a private outdoor pool that is not accessible. The handicapped room I had was difficult to work with and the carpet looked dirty. The renovations to the bathroom were not helpful.
More info about Baker City OR:
We traveled to Boise early April 2021—Spring Break. My co-traveler wanted to spend a week in Boise. I wanted to explore the Oregon Trail and the Sacajawea Trail for later posts. But Boise itself has a lot to explore, so we did what we could in so short a time, trying to balance our complementary and competing interests.
Here’s our itinerary as it worked out:
Day 1—travel to Boise via I-84 with a few stops along the way at Historic sites
Stayed at Hampton Inn & Suites Boise-Downtown
Late supper at Chandler’s
Day 2—within walking distance of our hotel:
Idaho State Museum
Lunch at MOD Pizza
Wandering about town
Day 3—points of interest: walking and driving
Idaho State Capitol building
Fort Boise Park
5 Guys burgers, Meraki Greek Street Food
Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial & Boise River Greenbelt
Day 4—to the east of Boise
Glenn’s Ferry & Three Island Crossing (Oregon Trail)
1000 Springs (Snake River Canyon)
Twin Falls Arctic Circle
Shoshone Falls (Snake River Canyon)
Blowout near Mountain Home :-O Tri-County Towing changed our tire, saving us towing all the way back to Boise, followed us as far as his exit to see we were ok
Day 5—to the west of downtown Boise
(flat fix at Les Schwab—we were there at opening, they were friendly and fast)
Parma/Old Fort Boise
Farewell Bend OR (Oregon Trail)
Day 6—head for home, mostly I-84
Hawkins Pac-Out for lunch—family-owned traditional fast food, including finger steaks
Fast Eddy’s—everything we needed to start on our way: food, gas, oil, car wash
trip home via I-84, with a side journey to Sacajawea Historical State Park, Pasco WA
My travel helper is interested in owning a carwash combination business, so we checked out 5 car washes in 5 days! I might as well review those here as well, at bottom.
I’ll try to include some other options for things to do in Boise ID and places to stay. And I intend to write separate posts for the Snake River Gorge/Canyon, Baker/La Grande/Pendleton, the Oregon Trail, and the Sacajawea (Lewis & Clark) Trail, so I will just make brief mention of those here.
It was a glorious day for birds of prey soaring the skies of Oregon City as I traveled I-205 toward I-5, on my way to Detroit Lake OR. Crews were still clearing winter storm damage (4-2-21), and traffic moved forward haltingly. Things improved south of Wilsonville, I took a little detour at Woodburn Outlet Mall, and about Keizer I noted that I was halfway between the pole and the equator, at 45 degrees north latitude.
Eventually urban ‘scapes gave way to rural lands: fields, farms, and forested hills. It’s 46 miles SE from Salem to Detroit Lake on Hwy 22, and after 26 of those miles Hwy 22 comes to Mehama, where the forest damage changed from winter storm to the wildfires of summer 2020. It was so real and present that it became a wonder that there were any homes still standing, though some were obviously rebuilt. From Mehama Hwy 22 follows the North Santiam River up into the Cascade Mountains: altitude at Salem is 157’, at Mehama 633’, Mill City 840’, Big Cliff Dam 1214’, and Detroit Lake OR is 1555’ above sea level with mountains all around. It’s a wondrous drive.
The quaint Gingerbread House is first to catch your eye as you drive along Hwy 22 and reach Mehama. Friendly folk there said previous owners made their own gingerbread and served it up with vanilla ice cream, something to drive a craving! You can get the usual breakfast and fast food, as well as elk and bison, their facebook page says.
There’s a bus stop on the street behind The Gingerbread House, and from there you’ll be facing Evelyn Joe’s Farmhouse Café featuring espressos, lattes, frappes, smoothies, pastries—gluten free, dairy free, and vegan offered as well, next to the Ace Hardware.
Bus Route 30X: Santiam/Salem Express https://www.cherriots.org/route/30X/?direction=1
If you like retro architecture, the old Mehama Country Grocery still stands, much worse for wear. It doesn’t take a lot of time to explore Mehama, population around 300.
Just before you cross the bridge over the North Santiam River toward the sister city of Lyons, there’s an opportunity to dine at the Dragon Chinese Kitchen.
The bridge has a barrier so that pedestrians can fish from it. Take the first right turn after the bridge, and another quick right down to the river, the Lyons-Mehama County Park offers somewhat rough boat and fishing access to the river. https://linnparks.com/parks/lyons-mehama-boat-ramp/
North Santiam State Recreation Area--just east of Mehama
Several recreation areas and parks along the way were still closed from the 2020 wildfire season. This was one of them. Too bad . . . from their website it looks like they have (or had) some nice facilities, including accessible ones. Hit the "Tour Accessible Features" button to see informative photos.
Fishermen’s Bend Recreation Site--29 mi east of Salem, 1.5 mi west of Mill City
This recreation site was also closed when I traveled Hwy 22 early April 2021. It wasn’t hard to see why.
Mill City OR--pop about 1900
Turn south off Hwy 22 at the 7-11 and follow the road to cross the bridge over the Santiam River. There's a nice little place to picnic with a view, and an accessible fishing pier. Continue south on 1st Ave to Fairview. East on Fairview is family friendly Kimmel Park on the south side of the river. The quickest way to get back to the Hwy is to retrace your journey.
Linn county parks https://linnparks.com/
Marion county communities https://www.co.marion.or.us/Pages/about.aspx