4 Great Sisters Day Trips

Chris Smith | 07.12.20

Nestled in the heart of Central Oregon, Sisters is the perfect home base to experience all the wonders the area has to offer. It’s an easy drive to the most popular attractions in the area, as well as some hidden gems that offer a full day’s worth of wilderness fun.

If you’re up for leaving the beaten path, these spots are a short (and often scenic) drive from your Sisters vacation rental but they pack a big punch. So, clear your calendar and buckle your seatbelt, because we’re bringing you four great Sisters Day Trips you don’t want to leave off your itinerary!

Peterson Ridge Trail

The Peterson Ridge Trail system is a perfect way to spend the day exploring the lush Three Sisters wilderness. This “ladder system” network features over 20 miles of trails, thoughtfully laid out in a looping pattern that allows you to journey as far – or near – as you desire.

The trail begins just behind the Three Sisters Brewery and offers over 15 customizable loop options for bikers and hikers of all skill levels to explore. Along the way, you’ll wind through lush Ponderosa Pine forests, gaze open-mouthed at dramatic peak views, and race through open sagebrush country.

Although it’s classified as moderate because of its length, the Peterson Ridge Trail is known for mostly flat, mellow stretches of land that are easy to navigate (though you should plan 4-5 hours to get your fill of the land). Originally designed for mountain biking, it’s still a popular spot for riders, though you’ll also find hikers, joggers, and horse tours on its paths.

Getting There: From downtown Sisters, head south to E Hood Ave. From here, turn left onto S Elm Street. After about .5 mile, turn left onto E Tyree Drive and the trailhead is on your right. Better yet, book a downtown rental like our Pine Street Cottage and get your muscles warmed up on a short walk to the trail!

Tamolitch Falls (Blue Pool)

It’s like something out of a fairy tale. Glittering motes from the black alder trees, dappled rays of sunshine streaming through the trees, the soothing lap of wild water on ancient rocks. And the crowning jewel – a stunningly iridescent pool of turquoise water, right in the heart of all that lush green vegetation.

But this magical view isn’t found in a book – it can be reached in a relatively easy hike just minutes from downtown Sisters. It’s part of the McKenzie River Trail, a popular 26-mile trek that winds alongside its scenic namesake river. The journey itself is equally mesmerizing as you wander through ancient Douglas Firs and intricate lava flows, culminating in an impressive view of Tamolitch Falls and the popular Blue Pool below.

Thanks to its journey through an ancient lava flow, the water is uniquely blue – and breathtakingly cold. You can jump from the steep ledge at the trail’s end, but most prefer to scamper down the side to the shores below for a toe-dipping trip into its freezing depths. If you plan to dive in be sure to bring extra clothes – you won’t want to make the trip back in your icy swimsuit!

Getting There: From Sisters, take US-20 W for about 25 miles. Keep left to stay on US-20W, then turn right onto OR-126 E. After about 11 miles, turn right at the sign for Trailbridge Campground/Blue Pool. After crossing a bridge, turn right onto NF-730 (a gravel road) and follow it to the trailhead.

Terwilliger Hot Springs

An outdoor adventure and a natural spa experience? That’s what awaits at the Terwilliger Waterfall and Hot Springs. This unique landmark just outside of Bend, Oregon combines stunning natural scenery and a series of refreshing hot springs to offer visitors a day of easy exploration that leaves you feeling one with nature and yourself.

Located in the Willamette National Forest, Terwilliger can be reached by an easy 0.9-mile hike. The path makes a gentle ascent through lush ferns, moss, and Douglas Firs; you can see the 100-foot drop of the falls from the beginning of the trail, giving a thrilling sense of anticipation to every step. The man-made pools beneath offer five different temperatures to relax in, offering a soothing experience for any brave bather.

Keep in mind that clothing is optional in the pools so sensitive seers should steer clear. Pets are allowed on the trail but must be kept on a leash; if you enter the pools, they’ll have to be tied at a spot out of sight.

Getting There: Terwilliger Falls is a scenic hour’s drive from your Sisters vacation rental. Head west on Hwy 20 for 58 miles until you veer left onto Highway 126. After about 15 minutes, take a left on Cougar Dam Rd/NF-19. After 0.5 miles, turn right onto Aufderheide Drive and follow it 5 miles to the Terwilliger Hot Springs parking lot.

Black Butte Mountain Trail

As one of the oldest hiking trails in the state, the Black Butte Mountain Trail knows a thing or two about stark wilderness beauty. The 5.2-mile trail climbs up the back of Black Butte, an extinct stratovolcano dotted with lush vegetation, abundant wildflower meadows, and fascinating infrastructure.

The ascent is a gradual climb through moss-covered forests, swaying flowers, and moving wildfire monuments. The peak includes a series of fascinating structures including an active fire lookout tower and historic cupola (feel free to explore and take photos, but don’t enter the buildings). But the impressive view from the peak is your true reward; from here, you enjoy sweeping views of the entire Cascade Mountain range as well as Three Sisters, Mt. Hood, Mt Jefferson, and Three Fingered Jack.

Getting There: From Sisters, drive north on Highway 20 toward Black Butte Ranch. 2 miles past the ranch, turn left onto Road 11. After about 4 miles, turn left onto Road 1110. The trailhead is 5 miles down. For an even shorter drive, book a stay at our Fairway View home that’s just minutes from Black Butte Ranch!

Book Your Sisters, Oregon Vacation

The ultimate Sisters vacation is packed full of day trips just like these, and you’ll be close to them all in one of our great Sisters vacation rentals! From private homes in the heart of downtown to scenic cabins right outside of the city, you’ll find the perfect starting point for any central Oregon adventure. Browse our available properties and book your stay today!

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