Updated: Dec 13, 2020
The Cascadia Skyline overland route is the perfect summation of Oregon: emerald green forests, snow capped volcanic peaks, and glassy mountain lakes. Adventure awaits in the Pacific Northwest!
Adventure Rating: Epic
Trip Length: 188 miles, 2-4 days
Season: May - October.
Technical Rating: Green, with some blue sections.
Typical Terrain: Mostly graded dirt and gravel forest service roads with some minimal pavement. Some side roads in Lookout Mountain area are rutted and susceptible to seasonal erosion (Roads 3550 and 4410).
Recommended Vehicle: Stock truck or SUV with 4x4 and all terrain tires.
Adventure Vans: Yes! 4x4 Sprinters should be able to manage the route without issue.
Alternative Routes: n/a
What comes to mind when you think of Oregon-- perhaps its emerald green forests, bubbling mountain streams that feed into glassy mountain lakes, or its snow capped volcanic peaks? The Cascadia Skyline overland route traverses through some of the most iconic scenery within the Cascade mountains of northern Oregon. The route snakes its way around two of the better known volcanic peaks within the Cascades. At the southern end of the route sits Mt Jefferson at 10,495', and to the north, Mt Hood (elev 11,250') dominates the forest skyline. Better grab that camera bag and hiking boots for the perfect PNW (that's Pacific Northwest for the noobs) off road adventure.
Your adventure begins in the quaint hamlet of Lyons. Follow the pavement of North Fork Road along the Santiam river for several miles. This section of the Santiam is known for its trout and hidden swimming holes. Salmon Falls is a great location to snap some photos, or to take a dip in its jade colored pool. From Salmon falls, continue on the pavement until you reach the dirt of road 2207. The graded dirt roads of 2207 and 2223 lead over the mountains to the town of Detroit, and Detroit Lake. Detroit was founded as a railroad town in 1889. The construction of the Detroit Lake dam flooded the original townsite, forcing residents to relocate to an old logging camp, the current location of the town. Consider refueling before leaving town, as this is your one and only chance for fuel until you reach Hood River. The Breitenbush River feeds into Detroit lake, and is well stocked with rainbow trout. Many of the campgrounds along the river are said to have superb fishing along the banks of the river. Follow the pavement of road 46 along the banks of the Breitenbush until it makes its ascent towards the Ollalie Lake Scenic Area. The road climbs to a saddle, which is where road 4220 begins.
The Ollalie Lake Scenic area is loaded with dozens of mountain lakes and miles of hiking trails, including the iconic Pacific Crest Trail. There are numerous options for primitive and developed lakeside camping. From Ollalie Lake, the road becomes rough in spots as you continue north along road 4220. If historic fire lookouts are your thing, consider making the 5.5 mile out-and-back hike to Sisi Butte Lookout (hike up road 120), a local favorite. Road 4220 meets its terminus at the pavement of Road 42. With a patchwork of pavement and dirt roads, the route descends down to Timothy Lake. If you're looking for that perfect shot with Mt Hood looming over a mountain lake, well then, this is certainly your place! There are a number of developed campgrounds on and around the lake. If you're looking for solitude, you'll most likely want to keep moving along. Not far from Timothy Lake sits the smaller, yet no less picturesque, Frog Lake. If you're looking for a break while out on the trail, Frog Lake provides a nice option for relaxing away from the crowds of Timothy Lake.
The route from Frog Lake follows a series of main and secondary forest service roads. As you make your way up Badger Butte and ten Gunsight Butte, the road conditions begin to deteriorate. Roads 3550 and 4410 have suffered significant erosion damage over the years and you may benefit from putting your vehicle into 4-low depending on the current trail conditions. As you may have guessed, the views from Lookout Mountain (requires a short hike) are fantastic, as you can see both Mt Hood (to your north) and Mt Jefferson (to the south). Road 4410 descends to the gentle pavement of road 44, and then the graded dirt of road 17. From here, the route follows a series of mostly dirt and gravel roads northwards to route's final destination, the Hood River.
Camping Recommendations Dispersed camping is permitted in most places within the Mt Hood national forest. While there are many great campgrounds along the route, most require a fee and tend may become crowded during the warmer months. Be sure to bring bug repellant, especially if you plan on camping next to a lake or other water source.
Breitenbush Lake Campground
Olallie Meadow Campground
Clackamas Lake Campground
Frog Lake Campground
Forest Creek Campground
Badger Lake Campground
Recommended Points of Interest
Henline Falls (short hike)
Sullivan Creek Falls
Little Crater Lake
Clear Lake Cabin Lookout
Sisi Butte Lookout
Gold Butte Lookout
Maps + Navigation
>> Always check with local land managers for road closures and conditions.
Gaia GPS (Neotreks Land Use layer, Gaia base layer)
blm maps >>
Download GPX files
TIP: To expose alternative routes and points of interest in Google Maps, open the sidebar and select the desired layer.