"The Willamette Valley Cascade Mountain Wagon Road was the main road from Albany to Sisters for almost 70 years. A man on a strong horse could make the 102 mile journey in four days. Some principal overnight stops were Mountain House, Fish Lake, Cache Creek, and Camp Polk. A toll was charged from 1867 to 1915 and was acquired by the State of Oregon in 1930."
Taking the long Santiam Wagon Road to House Rock was an adventure to say the least. The first mile or so of the trail feels as though you're following the main highway, hearing the cars drive by and almost able to see the road. After that you feel much deeper into the forest but still feel like you're not hiking towards any specific destination, with not much elevation and no other people around.
After about two miles you start to hear water (being my naive self I still thought it was coming from the road). All of a sudden you see campgrounds and wonder why in the hell you hiked there in the first place... but then you see House Rock and realize the 3 mile walk was totally worth it. Sitting on the rock in the picture below, these are the two views you see from facing opposite directions, a beautiful waterfall on one side, and the perfectly calming river on the other.
If you're crazy enough like my friend Lucas, you can climb up the mossy rocks of the waterfall to get this view looking down and the view from farther down the river in the first picture of this post.
Here are the steps leading to the campsites, which can be reserved online for $18 a night. RV spots are also available since no public restrooms are within walking distance.