Tamolitch Blue Pool in Oregon is one of the Cascade Mountain’s many top attractions.
I always tell people this is one of America's Secret National Parks - Clear Lake, Sahalie Falls, Koosah Falls and Tamolitch Blue Pool are simply amazing - not just these main attractions, but also the McKenzie River as it flows down and connects all these things.
Tamolitch Blue Pool is a gorgeous gem-like body of water at the base of Tamolitch Falls. The colors are so vibrant it literally takes your breath away.
Once a majestic waterfall, the McKenzie River has changed course and gone underground a few miles up stream. The river only flows over the falls a few times a year, the rest if the time the water emerges from the rocks underwater in the basin of waterfall pool. Its is rare to see a large waterfall ledge completely dry, the color and composition of the pool is also unique.
One of the first things you’ll notice is the color of the water. The topaz blue color of the water is almost iridescent – like a blue Otter Pop (and almost as cold). The water is so clear that some might assume it to be only about 5 ft deep – yet closer inspection will reveal that in many spots its over 30 ft deep. So pure in fact that you’d swear the water wasn’t moving – yet at the end of this glass like pond – a huge volume of water rushes out as the McKenzie River is reborn.
Accessing Tamolitch Blue Pool
You get to the waters edge by hiking over the waterfall ledge and taking the trail that leads you down to the side of the pool. Accessing the waters edge is not an easy feat – it requires bouldering over large rocks and then a steep trail down to the water. You can always jump off the ledge to the water, but we don’t recommend it. The water is cold, the jump is high and the climb back up is hard.
The Hike is 2 miles to the pool (total of 4 miles round trip).
A lot of people mistake this for a swimming pool, either from errant reporting (Tamolitch Blue Pool was named one of the worlds top 50 swimming pools in one article), or by mistaking photos or videos as people taking a leisurely swim. People do go in the water, but just like any cold water plunge, time spent in the water is usually short.
Cliff jumping into the pool is discouraged. People have died here from cold water exposure (hypothermia) and accidents while diving from the cliff. For emergency help, there is a pay phone at the lower Blue Pool trailhead. EMTs have to hike to you and that can take time. Cell service in not available in this area. (Safer Cliff Diving Options at nearby Blue River Reservoir.
Please enjoy this special place with awe, respect and caution.
Hiking this Section of the McKenzie River Trail
Tamolitch Blue Pool has two access points:
- Trail bridge Reservoir – the main access point is about midway on Oregon’s famous McKenzie River Trail. From this trailhead it is a 2 mile hike to Tamolitch Blue Pool and another 2 miles back to the start after the visit for a total of 4 miles.
- Sahalie or Koosah Falls – The upper access point is at the access point of one of these waterfalls. From here it is a 3 mile hike down to Tamolitch Blue Pool.
We recommend starting at the lower trailhead – it easier to stay on the trail and not get lost. We encourage you to have a map when accessing from the Waterfalls. A down loadable trail map is available here at McKenzieRiverTrail.com. (Free – no registration required.)
This is not wheelchair or stroller friendly. This is a moderate hike through some rocky lava flows.
- Wear sensible hiking shoes and be ready for a vigorous adventure.
- Hiking poles/sticks can add stability for those who might need them.
- Bring water and snacks – just remember to Leave No Trace – carry out all wrappers and trash with you.
There are trash cans and bathrooms at the lower trailhead.
If you have babies or infants you may find a baby backpack will help – Strollers will NOT make it through the trail.
Parents, consider whether or not your young child can do a vigorous 4 mile hike. This is a lot for most small kids – especially if they are not super active outside.
Hiking Shuttles are Available
See the best highlights of the trail with a one way hike that covers Tamolitch Blue Pool along with Sahalie, Koosah Falls and even Clear Lake! McKenzie River Mountain Resort & Shuttle offers a shuttle for hikers and mountain bikers. Options include 5, 6 (add the 2 waterfalls) or 9 mile hike (add Clear Lake). Shuttle rates are $25-30 per person. Shuttles are daily during the season and by appointment. Reservations required (Rates as of 12/2021)