A hidden gem along the Mckenzie River, Tamolitch Pool (known to some as Blue Pool) is a remarkable natural area secluded in the lush forest of the Western Cascade Mountains. While it is a part of the McKenzie River trail system and can thereby be reached from a couple different directions, we hiked in from the the trail bridge, an easy to moderate 4.2 miles round trip. The beginning of this easy hike is through old growth Douglas fir forest. As the McKenzie river falls away you walk along the cliff. Eventually you come upon an old lava flow. As we were hiking in mid-April, there were patches of snow across several areas of the trail.
We marveled at the stunning turquoise color of the water and wished it were summer – perhaps the water would have been a little more inviting. It is very cold though – so even then, we likely would only have waded. We pondered the depth of the pool and were given a little hint when we googled Tamolitch Pool to discover videos on YouTube of several brave (?) people jumping into the pool from the 70′ cliffs circling the pool.
Unbeknownst to most, there is a waterfall here … though it is hidden, a geologic oddity where water disappears under a lava flow. The pool is where the McKenzie River emerges from the basalt covered terrain. Due to the porous nature of the basaltic lava in the area, water has a difficult time staying on top of the ground, especially in seasons of low precipitation. From just below Carmen Reservoir, the entire river suddenly vanishes underground for roughly 3.5 miles before silently bubbling back up at the pool. Oregon – Like No Other is a great site that further explains the dry falls and the natural area of the McKenzie. His photos are stunning – much better than what we could capture with our iPhones (sadly, we’d forgotten our Canon).
If you are ever in the area, I encourage you to take the time to explore this area further. Oregon is indeed like no other.