Beginning at the McKenzie River Trailhead, McKenzie River National Recreation Trail #3507 starts in an old lava flow, originating from Mt. Washington, and crosses a bridge over the McKenzie River.
The trail maintains a gradual downhill track through old growth conifer trees as it winds along the edge of the McKenzie River and crosses the river on a footbridge just before Clear Lake. The trail continues winding through the forest and old lava flows in view of Clear Lake and passes the Great Spring, which is a primary source of the McKenzie River.
After passing the southern end of Clear Lake, the trail winds through forest and crosses Highway 126, continuing along the McKenzie River. The trail then crosses the river to its western side on a footbridge, winding down past scenic viewpoints overlooking Sahalie and Koosah Falls. The trail winds around Carmen Reservoir where the river disappears underground for most of the year.
The trail then follows a dry creekbed in old growth forest with several bridges to cross as the trail and creekbed meander in the valley bottom. After about 2 miles, the trail reaches a viewpoint of Tamolich Falls and Blue Pool, where the trail bubbles up from the ground in a crystal clear, blue colored pool.
From here, the trail heads down stream as the river begins to grow from the spring at blue pool eventually ending again at Trailbridge Reservoir. From Trailbridge Reservoir, the trail continues south through an old growth conifer forest and breaks out onto Forest Road 610, joining the road and heading south past a gate before breaking off the road east and south back along the now continuing river.
The trail crosses several more streams and follows forest roads connecting trail segments, breaking west and leveling out near Belknap Hot Springs Resort. The trail continues over undulating terrain west past Paradise Campground, then past the McKenzie River Ranger Station before reaching its end the at Lower McKenzie River Trailhead.
At a Glance
Bicyclists: Dismount and walk bicycles along the Waterfalls Trail or stay on the McKenzie River Trail as an alternate route. Expect heavy congestion near Paradise Campground, Clear Lake Loop and Waterfalls Loop trails.