Proxy Falls

September 5, 2010

1.85 mile Round Trip

Elevation Gain:
220 ft

Min/Max Elevation:
3,066 ft/3,242 ft

Bob, Myself
Proxy Falls and Dee Wright Observatory both are located off of Highway 242. Highway 242/McKenzie Pass Highway is a scenic byway. This scenic byway seems to be closed much of the year due to the combination of high amounts of snow and curvy narrow roads making it extremely dangerous to maintain.

The famous Pacific Crest Trail crosses highway 242 near the Dee Wright Observatory. This area is so fascinating – You start driving from Sisters, Oregon West. Sisters is located in the High Desert area – extremely dry with the classic juniper trees. As you drive further West and start to climb in elevation you will immediately see the large fields that go for miles.  The lava fields are amazing – it is unbelievable to see! Dee Wright Observatory is one of the highest points long this stretch of highway at about 5200ft – from here you start to descend and immediately hit the dense forest. There is little transition from one area to the next – its abrupt, way crazy!

I had gotten some recommendations from a few friends to check out Proxy Falls. It is considered more of a stroll in the park versus an actual hike. I dressed accordingly Portland Style with my flip flops, cargo shorts and camera in hand.

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I have this obsession with taking pictures of trail signs/maps/etc to accurately document the trip – even more so when I come unprepared and am not familiar with the area (great combinations by the way). It has helped a few times with better understanding the area and taking a win in a small friendly bet in the “who is right” game.

The is an Upper Falls and a Lower Falls that can be done in a looping form. It is about 1.5 miles to complete the loop, but can be more depending on how much exploring you do.

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Proxy Falls is located in the dense forests, which also appeared to be once lava fields similar to the Dee Wright area. Over time the rock had been weather and eroded to create rich soil for plants and trees to flourish in. It is interesting to see the areas that have not yet been taken over – the lava fields look so desolate.

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[Bob strolling through the lava fields]

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[Looking North at a sweet Cliff I want to climb!]

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[The Lower Falls]

At first sight the Lower Falls immediately reminded me of Ramona Falls located up on Mt Hood [viewable along the Timberline Trail/Pacific Crest Trail]. It is a beautiful sight for sure! And if you were wondering the water is colder than it looks…

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[Bob sizing up the Falls]

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[Stream flowing with the sun peaking through]

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[Upper Falls]

The Upper Falls was definitely beautiful and unique as well, but I do have to admit … wished we had hiked this one in reverse order. Upper Falls is similar to Wahkeena Falls in the Columbia River Gorge – more rolling versus straight vertical. So it was similar to starting with Multnomah Falls then going to Wahkeena Falls – still great, but its nice to end with a “big boom.”

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Despite the sun blinding us when we looked up at the falls I was still able to get a couple good shots of the falls. The moss was great to contrast the bright sun and white flowing water.

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This was a fun little stroll that I would highly recommend! Especially for those that are traveling the full distance along the scenic highway it is a great way to break up the drive a bit. It looked like there is some great potential for picnic area at the Lower Falls as well…

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