OWSR No. 41: McKenzie River

Sahalie Falls on the Wild and Scenic McKenze River

Sahalie Falls on the Wild and Scenic McKenze River | Photo: Zach Collier

Quick Facts

  • Managing Agency: Willamette National Forest (USFS)
  • Designated Stretch: From Clear Creek to Scott Creek, except for Carmen Reservoir and Trail Bridge Reservoir
  • Designation Length: 12.7 miles (12.7 miles Recreational)
  • Outstanding Remarkable Values: Fish, scenic quality, recreation, hydrology/geology and water quality
  • Wild and Scenic River Designation: October 28, 1988

More Information

Celebrated by Zach Collier, Michael Hughes, Emily Little, Melissa Frogh, Nick Wright, Kristen Bryson, and Ellie Friedmann on May 25, 2018 by hiking and biking on the McKenzie River Trail.


Blue Pool on the McKenzie RiverKristen Bryson: True to many Oregon spring days it was overcast and drizzling when Ellie, William, Thomas and I hiked a portion of the McKenzie River Trail to Tamolitch Blue Pool. This 3.7 mile out and back hike winds it’s way through the forest, providing excellent views of the river as it works it’s way downstream over rocks and fallen trees. All of us commented on the river’s stunning clear, blue water. Our turn around point was the aptly named Blue Pool, where the river flows over a ledge and calms forming a cerulean pool. When we were there the waterfall was flowing, but for much of the year the ledge is dry and pool is refilled from underground springs. After prompting from Ellie, she and I scrambled down the bank and took a very brisk, very quick dip in the pool. Definitely an activity recommended for a sunny day.

Koosah FallsEmily Singletary: Last July my husband and I decided to go explore the McKenzie River watershed to escape a heat wave. The days were long, dry, and relentlessly sunny like it often is in Oregon during the summer. We found relief in hiking along the shady river trail, taking freezing cold dips into Clear Lake, and camping in tucked away spaces in the Willamette National Forest. I was amazed at how green and lush the forest was, even in the summer. I was in awe of the powerful waterfalls plunging into deep bowls along the trail. We sat below Koosah Falls and Sahalie Falls, enjoying the cool mists that swirled through the air. We returned home feeling rejuvenated by the McKenzie’s beautiful, cold waters and dark, green forests.

Mountain bikers above Sahalie FallsZach Collier: We mountain biked the McKenzie River trail that follows the Wild and Scenic section of the McKenzie river. The trail was mostly fun singletrack trail with some very technical sections. The riding was great, but what really stood out were the stops at Sahalie Falls, Koosah Falls, and Blue Pool. These features are stunningly beautiful and the blue color is truly special.

Learn about Oregon Wild and Scenic River No. 42: Fifteenmile Creek >>


Northwest Rafting Company Exploratory Division Wild River Life