IMG_4681If you want to see one of Oregon’s most beautiful places try hiking along the McKenzie River Trail to the Tamolitch, or “Blue Pool” as it is commonly known to many. The hike along the Mckenzie River to the Blue Pool from the parking area near the Trail Bridge Reservoir is as breathtaking as the pool itself, and is a hike you definitely need to try.

If this sounds good to you, grab your favorite Hydration Pack or Hydroflask and get out on the trail! And to be safer out there, here is a list of hiking tips and some of the essential items you should always have when out hiking.

To hike to the Tamolitch or “Blue Pool” you can hike the McKenzie River Trail either by starting at Carmen Smith Reservoir for a hike of about 6 miles round trip (or at Sahalie Falls for a hike of about 9.5 miles round trip), or you can start at the parking area near the Trail Bridge Reservoir which will give you a hike of about 4.5 miles. We started the hike from the Trail Bridge Reservoir trailhead, and made our way through old growth Douglas fir, cedar and hemlock forests as the trail runs parallel to the river. The trail along the McKenzie River is very beautiful, and you will some very lush, almost rain forest like vegetation while you are hiking, and in many places the trees and rocks are covered in moss. This hike is probably best on a nice sunny day during the early spring and summer before the weather warms up too much and the mosquitoes come out, or late summer or early fall after the mosquitoes are gone.

Tamolitch or “Blue Pool” Photo Gallery

View photo gallery of the hike along the McKenzie River Trail to Oregon’s beautiful Tamolitch or “Blue Pool”

The first part of the trail is not real strenuous as there isn’t a lot of elevation gain, however if you are older like we are it is a little difficult because the trail isn’t exactly flat and even as there are a lot of rocks and tree roots to walk over and around. It is definitely a trail where you need to pay attention while you are hiking so you don’t trip on those obstacles, we saw more than one person stumble and trip on rocks and tree roots. If you are young and in good shape however, this will be a very easy trail for you to hike. Please be aware that you will be sharing the trail with mountain bikers, so keep alert. Also, it is a dog friendly trail, but please keep your dog on a leash, and pick up and pack out any dog waste.

IMG_4627After about 1.5 miles the trail climbs approximately 200 feet in elevation as it crosses a beautiful moss-covered lava bed, and you will have several vantage points to view the McKenzie River as it rushes far below at the base of the basalt cliffs. After approximately 2 miles the trail reaches the Tamolitch, or blue pool, and you will get your first look at this beautiful pool at a nice vantage point from the top of a cliff. You can follow the rim of the pool for several nice viewpoints, however I can’t warn you enough to be very careful as more than one person has fallen from the top and been severely hurt, and some have died from their injuries from the fall. A friend of ours lost his life on April 12, 2015 when he fell from the edge, and he was a very careful experienced outdoorsman, so please pay attention and don’t get too close to the edge.

When you get to the blue pool you might want to do like we did and find a rock and have your lunch while looking at the pool.

A lot of people will continue around the pool to a steep trail that actually takes you to the water and they will swim there. While the water is very cold all year long (just above freezing, many folks enjoy doing this. Some folks decide to make a jump or two from the steep cliffs, but we don’t recommend that at all, In addition to the dangers from the height and rocks in the pool, this water is very cold like we said, and some people just can’t handle the cold water. More than one person has been severely injured jumping from the cliffs, and some have died.

After enjoying the view of the blue pool, and perhaps having lunch, just go back the way you came to get back to the trailhead. Like most trails you will notice things on the way back you didn’t see on the way up, so make sure you look around while hiking, but like we said, pay attention to rocks and tree roots so you don’t trip and fall.

How to get to the Tamolitch “Blue Pool”

IMG_4589To get to the trail from Bend, travel west on Highway 20 through Sisters, Oregon, once you get through downtown Sisters continue on Highway 20 west for about 25.5 miles over Santiam Pass to Santiam Junction, to where Highway 22 splits from Highway 20. You will want to continue to drive on Highway 20 by taking a left at this junction, and in about 3.2 miles you will take another left, leaving Highway 20, and turning onto Highway 126. Follow Highway 126 to NF-750 just past Sahalie Falls and turn right if you want to start the hike at Carmen Reservoir (or for an even longer hike you can start at Sahalie Falls and hike down the MCkenzie River Trail toward Carmen Reservoir). If you want to start the hike from the parking area near the Trail Bridge Reservoir continue on Highway 126 a few more miles and make a right turn on NF-730 at the EWEB power station at the upper end of the reservoir and you will see a sign pointing to the right just after you turn onto the road and cross a bridge. You will follow this road a short way to the trailhead.

Map of the Tamolitch or “Blue Pool” hike

Check out a YouTube video of our hike to the Blue Pool

In memory of Joel J. Martin, 1963-2015

Joel's Plaque wp