The Tamolitch Falls Blue Pool is remarkable.
A glance at the photo above, and you’ll understand why. It is literally a hidden gem on the McKenzie River Trail, a shimmering pool of brilliant, topaz water. You first come upon it from above- a sudden oasis in the forest around you, a shock of color against the rich green and brown of Oregon.
Another remarkable trait? The nickname. Blue Pool. So very to the point. I love it.
Blue Pool is part of the McKenzie River, but the pool is filled from underground. The river water flows up through ancient lava rock at the bottom of the pool, filling the basin.
The most popular way to get to the pool is a 2 mile hike from a trailhead that does not say it takes you to Blue Pool. The first time I visited the trail, someone tried to be helpful and stapled a piece of paper to a log. It said “BLUE POOL 2 MILES”. It kind of looked like a sign a criminal would use to try and trick someone into getting kidnapped. Still, it lead me the right way.
As you continue on the path, the ancient land shifts from soft dirt underfoot and towering trees, to craggy rock that threatens to trip you if you’re not careful. The air smells clean here, tinged with pine.
While the path changes, your companion of the roaring McKenzie River remains constant, following you all the way to the pool. At times, it’s churning rapids. Others moments, it’s a quiet, clear brook under a crude wood bridge, worn smooth by thousands of shoes.
Your first glimpse of Blue Pool will be from overhead. The path leads to a rocky overlook, abundant with large, flat stones- perfect makeshift seats. Look below and you’ll see the vast swatch of crystalline blue, sometimes peppered with people lounging on the right bank or scurrying along the rocks.
It is possible to reach the banks of the pool. The trek there involves light rock climbing, navigating heavy brush, and shimmying down a steep embankment to the pool.
Once at the bank, you’re treated to an up-close view of the shimmering water. On a hot day, after a two mile hike and crab-walk down a steep hill, it looks tantalizing. You have to jump in.
Blue Pool is cold. In early summer, it is truly, painfully cold. My friend and I entertained the idea of jumping in. We waded into the water- it felt like walking through a tub of melting ice. My feet started to hurt almost immediately. We decided to pass.
Some people do swim in the pool, later in the summer, but be careful if you do. According to Eugene, Cascades and Coast, the pool is a steady 37 degrees.
I settled for dipping my hair into the water, which sounds weird, but in retrospect was a fantastic idea. The extra cold water made my hair very soft. It felt like Mother Nature herself blessed me with fabulous hair.
An Important Note If You Use Google Maps to get to Blue Pool. Google Maps has Blue Pool listed as a destination, but that won’t get you to the most popular trailhead. Instead, when you’re on Highway 126, keep an eye out for a lefthand turn onto an unmarked road with an EWEB power station. On Google Maps, it’s marked as NF-730.
Oregon is somewhat funny in that way. One of the most spectacular natural wonders in the state, and the most popular way to get there remains unmarked and somewhat hidden. But I suppose there’s something exciting about a stunning secret hidden deep within one of Oregon’s forests.
You can find it- it just takes a little work.