Three Pools Day Use Area

Area Status: Temporarily Closed

Three Pools Day Use Area on the North Fork of the Santiam River is an extremely popular destination, attracting over 15,000 visitors each year. Accessible via a short walk from parking area (fee or recreation pass required), spectacular emerald pools and several picnic sites make this one of the most visited swimming locations in Oregon. Expect to see some large crowds here on a sunny day.

Special regulations are in place to help protect this area and preserve the experience for you and for future visitors. Please practice Leave No Trace Principles during your visit. Garbage service is not provided so please pack-it-in pack-it-out. Alcohol is prohibited and the use of marijuana on federal lands is illegal.

The trailhead can be very crowded, especially on summer weekends. Carpool if possible. Park only in designated spots. Tightly packed cars and resulting congestion can prevent emergency vehicle access. If the parking lot reaches capacity it may be unable to accommodate you.

Swimming Safety:

  • Jumping from cliffs can be dangerous due to shallow water, submerged rocks, trees, or other hazards.
  • Always supervise children closely. Do not read, play cards, talk on the phone, or engage in any other distracting activity while watching children in or around water.
  • Rocks along the water's edge may be slippery when wet or dry.
  • If you choose to cross a stream by going through it, study the area first. Avoid deep and/or swift water.
  • When crossing on a natural bridge of rocks or logs, consider where you will land if you fall. Never cross above rapids or falls.
  • If you fall into fast-moving water, do not try to stand up. The force of the water will push you over and hold you under. Most drownings result from getting a leg or ankle caught in an underwater rock ledge, between boulders or snagged in tree limbs or other debris. Lay on your back with your feet pointing downstream and toes pointing up toward the surface. Always look downstream and be prepared to fend off rocks with your feet.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 12/22/23: Site burnt over in Beachie Creek Fire. Beachie Creek and Lionshead Fire closure areas.
Operational Hours: Day Use Only: Park hours are from dawn until dusk
Open Season: Year Round
Usage: Heavy
Busiest Season: Summer
Restrictions: See special regulations for Three Pools, Opal Creek and Detroit Lake including:
Closest Towns: Gates, Oregon (10.8 miles)
Mill City, Oregon (14.2 miles)
Mehama, Oregon (17.4 miles)
Water: No
Restroom: Valut Toilet
Operated By: Willamette National Forest
Information Center: Detroit Ranger District
44125 North Santiam Highway SE
Detroit, OR 97342

General Information


From Salem, Oregon, travel east on State Highway 22 to Mehama. At milepost 23, turn left (north) onto Little North Fork Road (next to the Oregon Department of Forestry building) and proceed for 15.3 miles to the Forest Boundary. Continue of gravel, FS Road 2209 for 1.3 miles to the intersection of FS Road 2207. Turn right and continue another 0.8 miles to Three Pools Day Use Area on the right

General Notes:

Close to:


Tightly packed cars and resulting congestion can prevent emergency vehicle access; please park only in designated spots.

Parking Restrictions

Three Pools Day Use Area

No entry into Three Pools Day Use Area once the parking lot is full. 

Forest Road 2207

  • No parking along Road 2207 between the junction with Road 2209 and the Shady Cove Bridge.
  • No parking along the south side of Road 2207 between Shady Cove Bridge and the eastern Opal Creek SRA boundary. Parking on the north shoulder allowed. 
  • Access into existing dispersed or undeveloped campsites open for parking, camping and day use.  

Forest Road 2209

  • Parking allowed only along the south shoulder within ¼ mile of the Opal Creek Trailhead and at the designated trailhead parking areas for Henline Falls, Henline Mountain and Nasty Rock Trailheads. 
  • 15 minute parking limit at the visitor information kiosk at the 2209/2207 road junction.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Viewing Scenery


General Info:


Three Pools is a Respect the River site. Please help keep this area clean and safe for everyone to enjoy; and our forests and rivers healthy:

Dogs must be on a leash.  Please be courteous and clean up after your pet.

Glass containers are not permitted on site for everyone’s safety from broken glass.  

Leave the area cleaner than you found it!  Throw all trash in garbage containers provided. 

Keep our waterways clean and healthy, restrooms are provided for your convenience.

Protect and help keep forests green.  Campfires and fireworks are prohibited.

For the safety and consideration of others, discharging firearms is not allowed.

Do not carve, cut, chop or damage live or dead trees, vegetation or wooden structures.

Three Pools has no designated swimming area or lifeguards. 


Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities



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  Elevation : 
1600 feet