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McKenzie Pass ODOT-change of opinion

Old 05-30-23, 02:30 PM
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McKenzie Pass ODOT-change of opinion

From ODOT's McKenzie Pass update:

"We do not open the road early for hikers or bikers before its open to vehicles, it is either closed or open to all. Signs are posted and gates are locked when the road is closed." and "People who choose to bypass locked gates and closed signs to access the road when it's closed do so at their own risk."

It could be there have been some issues with people crossing the gate when they were working on the road, or possibly people have crossed the gate unprepared and ran into issues. It's also possible the statements are for protection from legal ramifications if someone were to get into problems or got hurt. No matter the issue, be aware when crossing the gate to make sure they aren't currently working and be prepared...
https://www.oregon.gov/odot/regions/...e-highway.aspx
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Old 06-14-23, 08:25 AM
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I rode McKenzie Pass last Sunday as part of a multi-day ride. I must've seen at least 150 riders. The road is in excellent shape and I saw no indication of any issues with ODOT discouraging bicyclists from riding it while it is closed.


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Old 06-15-23, 10:39 PM
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I was also riding the pass on Sunday, starting on the McKenzie River side. There was a major bike collision on the Sisters side just before I got to the summit. I think you are correct that ODOT is saying the closure applies to all to avoid liability. I don't have details on the crash, I heard that a rider going down missed a corner and went off the road. Your pictures show what a FANTASTIC day it was for that exquisite ride. It was quite a party at the summit.
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Old 06-16-23, 09:59 AM
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Nice pics mtnbud !
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Old 06-16-23, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by mtnbud
It's also possible the statements are for protection from legal ramifications if someone were to get into problems or got hurt.
As a lawyer, this gets my vote. We have an official unofficial bike trail here in PA that is comprised of an abandoned stretch of PA Turnpike. I remember seeing a similar warning because the trail is not well developed or maintained and contains to un-lit tunnels, including one that is over a mile long.
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Old 06-16-23, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Shifty
I was also riding the pass on Sunday, starting on the McKenzie River side. There was a major bike collision on the Sisters side just before I got to the summit. I think you are correct that ODOT is saying the closure applies to all to avoid liability. I don't have details on the crash, I heard that a rider going down missed a corner and went off the road. Your pictures show what a FANTASTIC day it was for that exquisite ride. It was quite a party at the summit.
Shifty - You likely passed me at some point as I was being passed by pretty much everyone on my loaded bikepacking bike. I missed hearing about the bike crash. I did stop to check on a group that broke a chain, but had their chain tool with them.

Did you happen to see that big group with the guy riding the cargo bike carrying a cooler full of beer? I hope his buddies appreciated all his effort!

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Old 06-16-23, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by mtnbud
From ODOT's McKenzie Pass update:


"People who choose to bypass locked gates and closed signs to access the road when it's closed do so at their own risk."

https://www.oregon.gov/odot/regions/...e-highway.aspx
When I see the "...at your own risk" it is party on for me.
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Old 08-25-23, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by mtnbud
"We do not open the road early for hikers or bikers before its open to vehicles, it is either closed or open to all. Signs are posted and gates are locked when the road is closed." and "People who choose to bypass locked gates and closed signs to access the road when it's closed do so at their own risk."
Ok, surely it is open by now. I'm not sure there is any change. They're not listing any fines or enforcement. Rather "At your own risk", which is what was always implied.

For winter/spring rides, I've always felt that one should plan on a trip up and back on one side. Don't plan on a through trip from McKenzie Bridge to Sisters. That way, if conditions are worse than expected, simply turn around.

When I did a spring ride up there several years ago, February or March, I think, I passed several ODOT vehicles. None seemed to have a problem with me.

That day they changed gates that were closed. Locking the upper gate, and opening the lower gate. Someone carefully laid several sticks in the road, which I interpreted was intended as a warning FOR ME to slow down before smashing into the gate.
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Old 08-26-23, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK
Ok, surely it is open by now. I'm not sure there is any change. They're not listing any fines or enforcement. Rather "At your own risk", which is what was always implied.

For winter/spring rides, I've always felt that one should plan on a trip up and back on one side. Don't plan on a through trip from McKenzie Bridge to Sisters. That way, if conditions are worse than expected, simply turn around.
It's definitely open to cars right now, but they did close it for awhile last week due to low visibility from wildfire smoke. There were some on social media complaining about the closure, but I personally figure the reason to ride it is the views anyway.

I rode it on June 11th before the gate opened and there was quite a crowd that day.

I met a rider from Portland at Belknap Hotsprings who was trying to get a shuttle back to Sisters as he had started in Sisters with a group of friends, but found the climb back over to Sisters a bit daunting. He did get ahold of a shuttle company that does shuttles for McKenzie Pass and also the McKenzie River Trail. Even though it was fairly late the shuttle company was willing to give him a ride saving his friends the task of driving back to get him. The price was very reasonable especially considering the time of day and the likelihood he was the only one in the van for that trip.

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Old 08-27-23, 08:06 AM
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One would note the Lookout Fire is mighty close to McKenzie Bridge. So far HWY 242 doesn't appear to be involved. However, there are now fires burning on both sides of HWY 126.

https://inciweb.wildfire.gov/inciden...f-lookout-fire

As far as I can tell, the Highway 126 is still open.

Tripcheck doesn't mention issues with 126 out that far. However, it does say that 242 was closed August 18/19, with no further updates.

https://www.tripcheck.com/DynamicRep...adConditions/4
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Old 09-10-23, 10:05 AM
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We had a couple of days of rain a few weeks ago. Then it largely stopped. There has been heavy morning dew, at least just east of Springfield.

The fire camps are still busy.

I drove up HWY 126 a couple of days ago. There was hardly any smoke west of McKenzie Bridge, and only light smoke east of the town. I didn't see many visible signs of the fire.

Near McKenzie Bridge, all side roads appeared to be closed including road closed signs on HWY 242.

I presume parts of the road are open from the Sisters side, but not from the Springfield side.

It might not be a bad time to ride from the East side to the peak as there will be no through traffic. You would have to contend with slight hazy smoke, but likely not too bad.
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Old 03-22-24, 01:04 PM
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The east side of McKenzie Pass (Sisters side) will be completely closed for re-paving this spring - summer. ODOT announcement posted below. I assume the the west side will be open to the top of the pass.

Important information for opening of McKenzie Pass in 2024:
As a part of a federal grant, the east side of McKenzie Pass will be repaved in 2024. The timing of paving will depend on the weather, and crews will start as early in the year as they are able to. This will mean that the east side of the highway is completely inaccessible until the paving is complete. Please do not attempt to enter the construction zone next year while the highway is being repaved. This can be dangerous for you and the crews and could also extend the time it takes to complete the work. We are looking forward to making this route smoother and safer for everyone.
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Old 03-23-24, 04:20 AM
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Just imagine how smooth it will be when finished.

In 2019 I descend a pass in ID that appeared to have been repaved the year before at the latest. It was delightful.
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