Tamolitch Blue Pool Hike
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Tamolitch Blue Pool Hike in Central Oregon

The Tamolitch Blue Pool hike is a must while exploring the McKenzie River area. The short hike takes you to an enchanting blue pool—a unique natural phenomenon with, you guessed it, vibrant blue water!

Although the Blue Pool hike is worth the trip alone, many people combine it with the McKenzie River Trail.

This is a hugely popular, longer hike at 27 miles that follows the McKenzie River in the Cascade Mountains, with the Blue Pool hike being just a small segment of this much longer trail.


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What is the Tamolitch Blue Pool and How Was it Created?

Around 1,500 years ago, this area saw a lot of volcanic activity, and the Tamolitch Blue Pool is the result of a large lava flow.

Looking at the beautiful blue water, it may not seem obvious that this is the result of volcanic activity, but that’s because a lot of the action took place underground.

Blue Pool with a small waterfall
Blue Pool in Oregon

A three-mile stretch of the McKenzie River was pushed beneath the surface and the beautiful pool you see today results from water coming back above ground from the underground section of the river. Pretty cool, huh?

RELATED: Your Guide to Hiking The McKenzie River Trail

Best Time To Visit

The hike can be completed all year round, and each season comes with its perks.

  • The spring is the only time when you may be able to see the small waterfall in action. It’s usually dry, but the main draw here is the Blue Pool so don’t make the waterfall a priority.
  • During the summer, you’ll have the best chance of good weather, but this is also when the hike is the most crowded.
  • Fall is arguably the most beautiful as the orange and gold of the trees look incredible against the turquoise blue of the water.
  • In the winter, the trail can be a little slippery, but you are also the most likely to have it to yourself. If there is snow, the pool can look almost black.

How To Get To the Tamolitch Blue Pool

Another thing that makes the Blue Pool hike so popular is its accessibility. The drive from Bend or Eugene will take around 1.25 hours or just a little longer from Salem.

Since we base in Bend, this hike feels like it’s in our backyard, so it’s one of our go-to hikes when we want to get out away from it all.

Everything is well signed, and you can’t miss it while driving down the McKenize highway from either direction.

Blue Pool during a hike with a small waterfall
Blue Pool Hike

The trailhead for the hike is one of the access points to the McKenzie River Trail, as the hike is actually just a section of this long hike.

There is a paved parking area just off Highway 126—note that although the parking lot can accommodate over 20 cars, it can fill up quickly, especially on summer weekends.

Tamolitch Blue Pool Hike Overview

Distance: 3.9 miles
Type of Trail: Out and back
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain: 351 feet

Other important info:

  • Leashed dogs are allowed
  • There is no fee for this trail
  • The trail can also be accessed from the Carmen Reservoir (less scenic but fewer people!)

The Blue Pool trail is gorgeous, winding through Douglas Firs, lava rocks, and mossy canopies, all alongside the rushing McKenzie River, making for quite the hike!

The trailhead sets the scene for the rest of the hike, as you’ll begin a gentle stroll through towering Douglas-fir.

For a while, you’ll be walking alongside the rushing McKenzie River before you start heading uphill. From here, you’ll be able to see the rushing waters from above as it tumbles over the rocks.

Nina walking through the forest to the Tamolitch Blue Pool
Blue Pool hiking trail

For a short while, the trail leads away from the river and into a landscape of lava rocks.

After meandering through the rocks for a while, the path will begin to head downhill again towards the river, and you will start to hear the rush of water and rapids before you see it.

Nina crossing a small bridge in the forest on the trail.
Boardwalk on Blue Pool hike trail

Suddenly, the beautiful Tamolitch Blue Pool will appear before you, with a color so blue it is hard to believe it is completely natural. The color is complemented by the rich mosses and dense forest that surrounds it.

Getting to The Blue Pool

The Blue Pool is gorgeous, and you’ll no doubt want to sit back and take it all in for a while before heading back.

Many people enjoy picnics at the tops of the rocks, so feel free to bring up some snacks. This is what we always do, it’s a magical place to spend the day.

Magnificent view of Tamolitch Blue Pool hike at the top
Blue Pool hike at the top

If you want to dip your toes in the freezing waters, there are a few different ways to scramble down to the water’s edge. As soon as your feet touch the water, you will realize why not many people are swimming in it.

The water is cold—glacial cold at around 37 degrees year-round. Accessing the water’s edge is no easy feat, as it involves bouldering over large rocks and a steep trail.

Nina sitting on the rocks above blue pool.
Nina sitting above Blue Pool, notice we came in fall so there’s no waterfall at this time.

The water here is so clear that you may assume that it is only about 5ft deep, but in some places, it is over 30ft deep. That being said, jumping in the pool can be very dangerous and is not recommended.

Tips Before You Go:

  • The terrain warrants decent hiking shoes or at least runners. It’s a mix of dirt and lava rock. A few wooden bridges and walkways can be expected as well.
  • The parking situation isn’t the best—It’s a long line of parallel parking on a gravel road. You may be walking a bit to get to the trailhead. The other two parking lots for the falls are also small, and in peak season, it can get crowded.
  • Unfortunately, portions of the hiking paths are close to the road, which ruins the nature vibes a bit at certain points.
  • Weekdays will be less crowded, but this is not a secret place, so—expect people!
  • Don’t feel weird bringing a swimsuit in summer; plenty of people are crazy courageous enough to hop in the Blue Pool’s freezing waters (37/3 degrees F/C on average)
  • If you do get in, be careful! There have been rescues from people jumping from the cliffs and rocks. Don’t jump or do anything else risky when getting in. The water is also icy, and this can also be very dangerous. People have died here. In fact, there could even soon be a swimming ban!
  • Bring enough water for whatever hike you decide to take on—there’s nowhere to fill up.
  • There isn’t always going to be a waterfall at the Tamolitch Blue Pool!
  • You will be sharing the Blue Pool hike with bikers too.
  • Go on a sunny day so it’s reallllly blue! You can tell by our photos it was a bit overcast the day we went, which is why it’s not as blue.

Add On Trails:

If you want to add some additional trails after visiting Blue Pool—and I highly suggest you do since you’re SO close—there are a few great options nearby.

Add on Koosah and Sahlie Falls

Even if you’re short on time, you can likely still squeeze in seeing some of the other beauty spots in the area.

Sahalie and Koosah Falls are two of the most stunning waterfalls on the McKenzie River and are very close to the Blue Pool, plus both have their own parking lots.

Therefore, you can hop out, admire their powerful beauty, and then head on to the Blue Pool hike if you can’t hike the whole loop. These are some of the coolest waterfalls near Bend, and one of our favorite waterfall hikes in Oregon!

Add on Clear Lake

One of the coolest lakes in Oregon, Clear Lake, is just down the road and would be another stunning spot to add on to your Blue Pool hike.

If you enjoyed the Blue Pool, you’ll fall in love with Clear Lake, which can be just as clear! After all, the name kind of gives it away, right?

READ MORE: Your Guide to Exploring Clear Lake, Oregon

Other Things Nearby Tamolitch Blue Pool

While you’re here, it would be a shame to miss out on some of these other spots we love!

  • Proxy Falls – Incredible cascading waterfall, an easy 1.6-mile hike.
  • Hot Springs – There are quite a few just down the road, including Bigelow and Belknap. Here are some great Oregon hot springs to visit in the area.
  • Bend – All of these spots are day trippable (is that a word? I’m sticking with it) from Bend. There are plenty more things to do in Bend too!

Where to Camp Nearby

  • You can camp right alongside Clear Lake at the Coldwater Cove Campground. Vault toilets, fire pits, and tent sites available. The lake has a loop trail around it as well.
  • Just down the road is Ice Cap Creek Camp, which could not be any closer; it’s right next to Koosah Falls. Here you’ll find toilets and primitive campsites.
  • Just south of the Blue Pool is Olallie On Mckenzie Highway. This is another campsite with 16 sites, vault toilets, and is set along the rushing Mckenzie river.
  • And if you’re heading west, we have some great campsites near Eugene to check out too. If you head east, check out camping near Bend.

Other Accommodation Nearby

If you don’t want to camp, your closest options for places to stay are back along the highway near the town of McKenzie Bridge.

  • Right on the river is the Romantic Cabin Getaway, featuring a waterfront patio with spectacular views. The 2-bedroom property is conveniently located, yet secluded in surrounding cedar forests.
  • The Riverfront Sanctuary allows you to experience a historic log cabin, but with all of the mod-cons required for a comfortable stay. The wood-lined 2-bedroom property features a river rock fireplace and a waterfront patio.

👉 More Accommodation Near Blue Pool

We hope this helped you plan your trip to Tamolitch Blue Pool!

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