McKenzie River Trail In Oregon

Here is everything you need to know about the McKenzie River Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Oregon
  • Length: 25.9 miles.
  • Type: Hiking.
  • Surface: dirt
  • Managed By: US Forest Service
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website: Info not available.

The McKenzie River Trail, located in the state of Oregon, holds a rich historical significance that dates back centuries. The trail follows the path of the McKenzie River, which was named after the Scottish-Canadian explorer, Donald McKenzie, who ventured into the region in the early 19th century. However, the history of the trail predates McKenzie’s arrival.

The McKenzie River Trail has long been used by Native American tribes, particularly the Kalapuya people, who inhabited the area for thousands of years. They relied on the river for sustenance and transportation, utilizing the trail to access various resources and trading routes. The trail served as a vital connection between different tribal communities, enabling the exchange of goods, knowledge, and cultural practices.

During the mid-1800s, European settlers began to explore and settle in the region. The trail played a crucial role in their expansion, serving as a route for fur trappers, explorers, and pioneers. These early settlers recognized the natural beauty and resources of the McKenzie River area, leading to the establishment of several homesteads and logging operations along the trail. The logging industry thrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with timber being transported via the river and the trail.

Over time, the McKenzie River Trail evolved from a utilitarian route to a recreational destination. In the 20th century, the trail gained popularity among outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, and mountain bikers. Efforts were made to preserve the trail’s natural beauty and historical significance, leading to its designation as a National Recreation Trail in 1988. Today, the McKenzie River Trail continues to attract visitors from around the world, offering a glimpse into the region’s rich history and providing a unique outdoor experience.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. McKenzie Bridge Trailhead
2. Carmen Reservoir Trailhead
3. Trail Bridge Reservoir Trailhead
4. Clear Lake Trailhead
5. Sahalie Falls Trailhead
6. Koosah Falls Trailhead
7. Tamolitch Blue Pool Trailhead
8. Paradise Campground Trailhead
9. Deer Creek Road Trailhead
10. McKenzie River Ranger Station Trailhead

Transportation Available

1. McKenzie River Shuttle – Provides shuttle services for hikers and bikers along the McKenzie River Trail.
2. McKenzie River Taxi – Offers taxi services for transportation needs in the McKenzie River Trail area.
3. McKenzie River Bike Rentals – Provides bike rentals for exploring the McKenzie River Trail.
4. McKenzie River Trail Bus – Offers bus services for transportation along the McKenzie River Trail.
5. McKenzie River Trail Tours – Provides guided tours and transportation services for visitors exploring the McKenzie River Trail.


The McKenzie River Trail offers several amenities for visitors. Here is a list of amenities available at the McKenzie River Trail:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at various points along the trail, including at trailheads and campgrounds.

2. Parking: There are designated parking areas at different trailheads along the McKenzie River Trail. These parking lots provide convenient access to the trail.

3. Camping Sites: The trail offers camping opportunities at several campgrounds, including:

– Paradise Campground: Located near the trail, it offers campsites with amenities such as fire rings, picnic tables, and vault toilets.
– McKenzie Bridge Campground: Situated near the trail, it provides campsites with facilities like fire pits, picnic tables, and vault toilets.
– Ice Cap Campground: This campground is close to the trail and offers campsites with amenities like fire rings, picnic tables, and vault toilets.

4. Picnic Areas: There are various picnic areas along the McKenzie River Trail where visitors can stop and enjoy a meal or a snack. These areas are equipped with picnic tables and sometimes have grills or fire pits.

5. Water Access: The trail runs alongside the McKenzie River, providing opportunities for water access. Visitors can swim, fish, or simply enjoy the scenic views of the river.

6. Trailhead Facilities: At different trailheads, you may find additional amenities such as information boards, maps, and sometimes even visitor centers or ranger stations.

Please note that amenities may vary depending on the specific location along the trail. It is always recommended to check with local authorities or visitor centers for the most up-to-date information on amenities and facilities available at the McKenzie River Trail.

Nearby Services

1. McKenzie River Inn – Cozy lodging with river views.
2. Belknap Hot Springs Lodge – Rustic lodge with natural hot springs.
3. McKenzie River Mountain Resort – Cabins and camping near the trail.
4. Eagle Rock Lodge – Riverside lodge with scenic views.
5. McKenzie River Ranger Station – Emergency services and information center.
6. McKenzie Bridge General Store – Convenient store for food and supplies.
7. Takoda’s Restaurant – Casual dining with American cuisine.
8. McKenzie Station Pub – Local pub with a variety of food and drinks.
9. McKenzie River Clinic – Medical services for emergencies.
10. McKenzie Fire & Rescue – Emergency response services for the area.

McKenzie River Trail Difficulty Notes

The McKenzie River Trail is renowned for its challenging difficulty level, making it a thrilling adventure for experienced hikers and mountain bikers. With its rugged terrain, steep ascents, and technical sections, this trail demands a high level of physical fitness and skill. The trail’s narrow paths, rocky sections, and occasional obstacles require careful navigation and concentration. However, the reward for conquering its difficulties is well worth it, as hikers and bikers are treated to breathtaking views of the McKenzie River, lush forests, and stunning waterfalls along the way.

Features And Attractions

1. Sahalie and Koosah Falls: These stunning waterfalls are located near the beginning of the McKenzie River Trail. Sahalie Falls drops 100 feet, while Koosah Falls cascades 70 feet, creating a picturesque scene.

2. Tamolitch Blue Pool: This natural landmark is a must-see along the trail. The Blue Pool is a crystal-clear, vibrant blue pool formed by the McKenzie River disappearing into an underground lava tube.

3. Proxy Falls: Proxy Falls is a magnificent waterfall that drops in two tiers, surrounded by lush greenery and moss-covered rocks. It is a popular spot for photographers and nature enthusiasts.

4. Clear Lake: Located near the headwaters of the McKenzie River, Clear Lake is known for its crystal-clear waters and submerged ancient forest. Visitors can rent canoes or kayaks to explore the lake and enjoy the scenic beauty.

5. Belknap Hot Springs: This natural hot springs resort is a great place to relax and rejuvenate after a long hike. The hot springs are nestled in a beautiful forested area, providing a tranquil and scenic experience.

6. Blue River Reservoir: This reservoir offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and is a popular spot for fishing, boating, and picnicking. It is a great place to take a break and enjoy the natural beauty.

7. McKenzie Pass: As you hike along the trail, you will reach McKenzie Pass, which offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains. The pass is also home to Dee Wright Observatory, where you can learn about the volcanic history of the area.

8. Terwilliger Hot Springs: Also known as Cougar Hot Springs, this natural hot springs is located a short distance from the McKenzie River Trail. It features several cascading pools of varying temperatures, surrounded by lush forest.

9. Smith Reservoir: This reservoir is a serene spot along the trail, offering beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and a peaceful atmosphere. It is a great place to relax and enjoy the natural surroundings.

10. McKenzie River National Recreation Trail: The entire McKenzie River Trail itself is a scenic wonder, stretching for 26 miles through old-growth forests, alongside the river, and passing by numerous waterfalls and natural landmarks. The trail offers stunning views and a chance to immerse yourself in the beauty of the McKenzie River area.

Usage Guidelines

1. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Bicycles are only allowed on designated sections of the trail.
3. Camping is not permitted along the trail.
4. Open fires are prohibited.
5. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
6. Hunting or trapping is not permitted.
7. Fishing is allowed, but a valid fishing license is required.
8. Stay on designated trails and do not create new paths.
9. Respect wildlife and do not disturb their habitats.
10. Pack out all trash and leave no trace.
11. Respect seasonal closures or restrictions, if any are in place.
12. Follow all posted signs and regulations.
13. Be aware of and yield to other trail users.
14. Do not damage or remove any natural or cultural resources.
15. Use caution and be prepared for changing weather conditions.
16. Check for any additional rules or guidelines specific to the McKenzie River Trail before your visit.

Seasonal Information

The McKenzie River Trail, located in Oregon, offers breathtaking scenery and a variety of outdoor activities throughout the year. However, there are certain times of the year that are considered the best for visiting this stunning trail. The months of May through October are generally regarded as the prime time to explore the McKenzie River Trail. During this period, the weather is typically mild, with warm temperatures and minimal rainfall, making it ideal for hiking, biking, and other outdoor adventures.

One of the highlights of visiting the McKenzie River Trail is witnessing the vibrant colors of the surrounding foliage. In the fall, usually from late September to early November, the trail is transformed into a kaleidoscope of red, orange, and yellow hues as the leaves change. This creates a picturesque and magical atmosphere, attracting nature enthusiasts and photographers alike.

It is important to note that the McKenzie River Trail has seasonal closures in certain areas due to weather conditions and maintenance. The upper section of the trail, known as the “Tamolitch Blue Pool” or “Blue Pool,” is often closed during the winter months. This closure is primarily due to the potential hazards caused by icy conditions and snowfall. It is advisable to check with local authorities or visitor centers for the most up-to-date information on closures and trail conditions before planning your visit.

Overall, the best times to visit the McKenzie River Trail are during the spring, summer, and early fall when the weather is pleasant, and the trail is fully accessible. Whether you are seeking a peaceful hike, an adrenaline-pumping mountain biking experience, or simply a chance to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, the McKenzie River Trail offers something for everyone.


1. Wheelchair Accessibility: The McKenzie River Trail offers limited wheelchair accessibility, with some sections being accessible for individuals with mobility challenges.
2. Accessible Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available at various trailheads along the McKenzie River Trail.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Accessible restrooms are provided at certain trailheads, ensuring convenience for individuals with disabilities.
4. Trail Surface: The trail surface is generally well-maintained and suitable for wheelchair users, with sections consisting of compacted dirt, gravel, or pavement.
5. Trail Width: The trail width varies throughout the McKenzie River Trail, but it generally provides enough space for wheelchair users to navigate comfortably.
6. Rest Areas: Several rest areas are available along the trail, providing opportunities for individuals with disabilities to take breaks and enjoy the surroundings.
7. Scenic Overlooks: The trail features scenic overlooks that offer beautiful views of the McKenzie River and surrounding landscapes, accessible to wheelchair users.
8. Bridge Accessibility: Most bridges along the trail are accessible, allowing wheelchair users to cross over waterways and enjoy uninterrupted exploration.
9. Assistance Animals: Service animals are permitted on the McKenzie River Trail, providing support and assistance to individuals with disabilities.
10. Informational Signage: The trail features informational signage at various points, offering valuable information about the area’s history, flora, and fauna, accessible to all visitors.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: The McKenzie River Trail is a moderately difficult trail with some technical sections and steep terrain, suitable for experienced hikers and mountain bikers.
2. Weather Conditions: Be prepared for changing weather conditions, as the trail can be affected by rain, snow, and strong winds.
3. Trail Length: The trail is approximately 26 miles long, so plan accordingly and ensure you have enough time and supplies.
4. Trail Markings: The trail is well-marked with signs and trail markers, but it’s always a good idea to carry a map or GPS device.
5. Wildlife Encounters: Be aware of potential encounters with wildlife such as bears, cougars, and snakes, and take necessary precautions to avoid conflicts.
6. River Crossings: There are several river crossings along the trail, so be cautious of water levels and use appropriate techniques to safely navigate them.
7. Trail Conditions: Check for trail conditions and closures before starting your hike or bike ride, as maintenance or natural events may affect accessibility.
8. Cell Phone Reception: Cell phone reception can be limited or non-existent in some areas, so inform someone of your plans and expected return time.
9. First Aid Kit: Carry a well-stocked first aid kit and know basic first aid procedures in case of injuries or emergencies.
10. Water and Food: Bring enough water and food to sustain yourself throughout the trail, as there may be limited opportunities for resupply.
11. Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash, minimizing impact on the environment, and respecting wildlife and other trail users.
12. Emergency Contacts: Carry emergency contact information and know the nearest access points or ranger stations in case of emergencies.
13. Trail Etiquette: Be courteous to other trail users, yield to uphill traffic, and follow any specific rules or regulations in place.
14. Physical Fitness: Ensure you are in good physical condition before attempting the trail, as it involves long distances and challenging terrain.
15. Equipment: Use appropriate gear, including sturdy footwear, helmets for biking, and any necessary safety equipment for your chosen activity.

Conservation Notes

The McKenzie River Trail, located in the state of Oregon, is considered to have a stable conservation status. The trail is well-maintained and protected, ensuring the preservation of its natural resources and biodiversity. Efforts have been made to minimize human impact on the trail and its surrounding environment, allowing for the continued enjoyment of its scenic beauty and ecological significance.

Conservation measures have been implemented to protect the McKenzie River Trail from potential threats such as habitat degradation, invasive species, and pollution. Regular monitoring and management practices are in place to ensure the trail’s sustainability and the preservation of its unique ecosystems. This includes the removal of invasive plant species, restoration of damaged areas, and the promotion of responsible recreational activities.

The McKenzie River Trail is also home to a variety of wildlife species, including several threatened or endangered species. Conservation efforts aim to protect and enhance their habitats, ensuring their survival and promoting biodiversity. The trail’s conservation status is further supported by educational programs and initiatives that raise awareness about the importance of preserving the natural environment and respecting the trail’s fragile ecosystems.

Overall, the conservation status of the McKenzie River Trail is considered to be in good standing. The trail’s management and protection efforts, along with the support of local communities and organizations, contribute to its long-term sustainability and the preservation of its natural beauty for future generations to enjoy.

Leave a Comment