Santiam Rivers Loop - Oregon Scenic Drives

Distance: 178 Miles
Time: 5 Hours

The North Santiam Loop will take you from Salem on State Highway 22, through the city of Detroit, up the North Santiam River to Highway 20 and down to Sweet Home, to Lebanon and Interstate 5 to Salem.

This entire trip will be traveled on major highways through forest and farm land. Historical markers and stopping places and a variety of alternate routes highlight this trip. This is a lovely trip to observe fall color.

For the mileages and information points between Salem and Detroit, see the Breitenbush River Loop.




00.0 00.0 Salem turnoff from Interstate 5 to Highway 22.

48.8 48.8 Detroit.

51.9 3.1 Blowout Road 1000. The Quartzville Loop ends at this point. You have the option of taking the trip from this point.

52.8 0.9 Idanha. Population 400. The Indian name means "Gem of the Mountains." The Corvallis and Eastern Railroad terminus was formerly located at this site. Glimpses of Mt. Jefferson can be seen from the highway beside the Santiam River.

57.4 4.6 Whispering Falls Campground (U.S.F.S.). 12 trailer and camping sites.

59.5 2.1 Whitewater Road 2243 to the left. A side trip may be taken. Follow the road for 7.4 miles to the parking lot at the end of the road. Glimpses of Mt. Jefferson can be seen along this road. A 5.1 mile Jefferson Park Trail begins off the parking lot in old-growth timber.

59.6 0.1 Entering Linn County.

61.2 1.6 Pamelia Road to the left. For another side trip, follow the road for 3.6 miles to the parking lot near Pamelia Greek. The 2.1 mile Pamelia Lake Trail leaves from the parking lot.

63.2 2.0 Riverside Campground on right. 20 tent, 10 trailer and 10 picnic sites (U.S.F.S.).

65.2 2.0 Marion Forks. Marion Lake Road. If you follow this road for 4.4 miles to the parking lot, you can I hike into Lake Ann and Marion Lake. The trail is a main Access route to the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness and the Oregon Skyline section of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.



MileagePointsSantiam Rivers Loop

65.4 0.2 Marion Forks Salmon Hatchery managed by the Oregon State Fish Commission, and Marion Forks Campground (U.S.F.S.). 8 tent and 7 trailer units.

68.1 2.7 Straight Creek Road 11. Detroit is 25 miles by following this alternate route.

74.5 6.4 Santiam River. This is the last time on this trip you will be seeing the North Santiam River.

79.1 4.6 Lava flow. This flow originated from Nash Crater and it is estimated to be 3,800 years old.

80.5 1.4 Junction Highway 22 and Highway 20. Go right. If you go left at this point, you will pass Hoodoo Ski Area, and can travel on to Sisters over the Santiam Pass, or you can reverse the McKenzie Pass Loop.

83.6 3.1 Junction Highway 20 and Highway 126. Go straight. An alternate trip can be taken at this point by turning left.

87.0 3.4 Pioneer Wagon Road Historical Marker. The sign reads, "The old road crossing the Santiam Highway at this point was part of the Willamette Valley and Cascade Mountain Wagon Road built during the years 1861 to 1868 by a group of Willamette Valley ranchers and businessmen, later assisted by T. Egenton Hogg of San Francisco. A land grant of 800,000 acres was given this company in payment for construction of the road. Toll was charged from 1867 to 1915. In 1925 the toll road was turned over to the State for a highway."

87.9 0.9 Lost Prairie Historical Marker. The sign says, "Lost Prairie was named by a group of Willamette Valley settlers who camped here in April 1859, while searching for a cattle trail over the Cascade Mountains to central Oregon pastures. The expedition was led by Andrew Wiley. To reassure less stouthearted members who felt the party was lost, Wiley climbed a tree on a nearby mountain and was the first white man to view the Santiam Pass from the west side of the mountains. Wiley later served as chief locator of the Willamette Valley and Cascade Mountain Road project in 1866 and 1867." Lost Prairie Campground (U.S.F.S.) is located a few hundred feet from this sign. 4 campsites and 6 picnic sites.

90.0 2.1 Iron Mountain can be seen ahead.



MileagePointsSantiam Rivers Loop

91.2 1.2 Tombstone Prairie. Formerly Indian Prairie because it was a meeting place for numerous Indian tribes living in this territory. A memorial tombstone stands on this prairie in memory of an 18-year-old boy who accidentally shot himself at the prairie in 1871. For many years this prairie was used as a camping stop by freighters and travelers.

91.8 0.6 Tombstone Pass, elevation 4,236. Summit of the Western Cascades which includes such mountains as the Pyramids, Crescent Mountain, and Iron Mountain.

92.1 0.3 Deer Creek Road/Trailhead. A 1.7 mile trail leaves from the parking area and takes the hiker up an easy and nontiring trail which is lined with an abundance of alpine flowers the entire summer.

101.0 8.9 House Rock Forest Camp (U.S.F.S.). 17 campsites and 6 picnic sites.

102.9 1.9 Upper Soda.

104.0 1.1 Fernview Campground (U.S.F.S.). 11 campsites.

106.1 2.1 Yukwah Campground (U.S.F.S.). 20 sites, nature trail.

106.6 0.5 Trout Creek Campground (U.S.F.S.). 24 campsites.

107.4 0.8 Longbow Organization Camp (U.S.F.S.). Group camping by reservation. Inquire at the Sweet Home Ranger Station.

114.0 6.6 Cascadia and Cascadia State Park. Nature trail.

115.7 1.7 Cascadia Work Center. Site of a former Forest Ranger Station.

122.5 6.8 Turnoff to Green Peter Dam, Fish Hatchery and Quartzville. (An alternate trip may be taken at this point. Refer to the Quartzville Loop.)

124.3 1.8 Foster Dam and Reservoir Viewpoint. Part of the Green Peter Project, it is located approximately 7 miles downstream from Green Peter Dam. It is a re-regulating unit also operated for flood control, power, navigation, and irrigation. The reservoir offers a variety of recreational facilities. Gedney Creek Access includes one boat launching ramp, a floating dock and comfort facilities. Sunnyside Park and Lewis Creek Park offer camping, picnicking, boat launching and docks, swimming areas, comfort stations, and good parking areas.

126.6 2.3 Sweet Home Ranger Station. Headquarters for the Sweet Home District of the Willamette National Forest.



MileagePointsSantiam Rivers Loop

126.9 0.3 Entering Sweet Home. Population 6,800. Home of the Sportsman's Holiday Festival held the third weekend in July.

128.5 1.6 Junction Highways 20 and 228. Go straight on this loop. At this point you have the option of turning left and taking an alternate through Brownsville to the freeway.

142.4 13.9 Lebanon. Population 6,300. Named for Mt. Lebanon in Syria by Jeremiah Ralston in 1851.

153.7 11.3 Interstate 5.177.7 24.0 Salem.

(Please note that many of the forest roads are closed seasonally. Check with the ranger station listed at the end of the loop description to find out current conditions.)

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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