What makes the adventures on this McKenzie River truly incredible is the rich old-growth forest, the lava rocks that form along the river and trail, and most of all, the one of a kind, deep, vibrant blue of the McKenzie River that weaves and flows over cliffsides, creating spectacular waterfalls. There is so much untouched nature to explore here but for an adventurer who seeks the most stunning stops, check out these 5 things to do.
Hike Sahalie & Koosah Falls Loop
Length: 2.6 miles
Trailhead: Sahalie & KoosahFalls Trailhead
While a very short hike, this loop is very rewarding and contains 2 of the most amazing waterfalls I’ve ever seen. These waterfalls are a one-of-a-kind dark, vivid blue. This is a fantastic hike for families, photographers, and anyone who loves incredible waterfalls.
Hike Clear Lake
Length: 4 miles
Trailhead: Coldwater Cove Campground (or if the road is closed from the winter, park at the junction of forest road NF-770)
The name is fitting. This short hike trails the perimeter of the clearest lake you’ll ever see, reflecting the mossy, green floor below. Hike this at sunrise or sunset for incredible colors reflecting off the lake.
Hike to Tamolitch Falls/Blue Pools
Length: 4 miles
Trailhead: Tamolitch Falls/Blue Pools Trailhead
While the color of the water along the Sahalie Falls Loop is gorgeous, it doesn’t compare to the incredibly blue water of Blue Pools. Take note that this hike has 2 names because the feature is different depending on the season.
During spring, the waterfall pours an incredible amount of pure white water into a dark blue pool below. The overlook gives you awesome views and photo opportunities.
In the summer or fall when the waterfall dies away, the astounding feature is the color of the pool. It can become a rich turquoise color and is a great place to swim in the late summer and fall. No matter the season, the rich Oregon forest is also incredibly beautiful.
Check out a Hot spring
Near the end of the river, the final thing to do is check out a hot spring. There is hot spring called Bigalow Hot Springs that’s free. Now, the only negative of this hot spring is that it’s really more like a warm spring (at best). The actual location lies just south of the parking lot at these coordinates: 44.2398980, -122.0590281.
If you aren’t into a not-so-warm hot spring check out Belknap Hot Springs which is a bit further south and does cost money.
Mountain Bike the Mackenzie River Trail
Length: 25 miles (one-way)
Trailheads: Upper Mackenzie River Trailhead & Lower Mackenzie River Trailhead
If you’re looking for a more intense or active adventure, mountain bike a section of the epic Mackenzie River Trail which runs through incredible old-growth forest and alongside all 4 of the previous sights (Sahalie and Koosah Falls, Clear Lake, Tamolitch Falls, and Hot springs).
This trail has been considered the #1 MTB trail in America. The trail is 24 miles long and when ridden north to south it has 1600 feet gain and 3200 feet of elevation loss. Obviously north to south is the more desirable way to ride because of the downhill so if you have 2 cars you could leave a car on the south end then start from the north end and downhill the trail.
You can also opt to bike pack the trail both ways due to a large number of campgrounds along the trail. The Mackenzie River Trail is considered moderate but contains many difficult sections, especially towards the beginning until you reach Trail Bridge Campground.
Once you hit that campground though, the ride gets really fun and smooth. This adventure can be great in spring unless there’s been so much rain that trails are muddy. Click here to check the trail conditions. It can be ridden from April – October but early summer/late spring is the best time to ride it.
Did we miss your favorite stop on the Mackenzie River Trail? Let us know your favorite adventure in the comments below!
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