The McKenzie River National Recreation Trail is a 26.5-mile long favorite of mountain bikers, hikers and families alike. With numerous spots to camp, relax, take in stunning scenery and enjoy the tranquility of cascading waterfalls, there’s something for everyone along this popular national recreation trail. Multiple access points take you through lava beds, lakes, reservoirs, waterfalls, cold-water creeks and dense old-growth forests.
There are eleven different trailheads that offer easy access along Highway 126, but our favorite spot to begin a fall hike is at Clear Lake. Here the trail circumnavigates the lake through dense forest and lava fields. Right now the fall colors are really starting to show on the east side of the lake near Coldwater Cove Campground.
A three thousand year-old lava flow is responsible for creating Clear Lake, one of the beautiful lakes of Oregon. Located off of Highway 126 between Eugene and Bend, this is where the majestic McKenzie River Trail begins.
After circling Clear Lake, the trail crosses Highway 126, where a 1-mile hike brings you to the first of two majestic waterfalls, Sahalie Falls. From here, take the easy round-trip 1.5-mile hike to Koosah Falls, or set out on a longer, exhilarating hike to Tamolitch Pool, where the McKenzie River reemerges from underground into a crystal blue pool.
The closest trailhead to the pool is at Trailbridge Reservoir off of USFS Road 655. From the parking area at the trailhead, head east on the McKenzie River Trail for approximately two miles. This stretch of trail offers a spectacular tapestry of fall colors and plenty of opportunities for bird watching.