Easy Hiking at Sahalie and Koosah Falls in Oregon
Oregon is home to many places to hike and one of my favorites is along the McKenzie River near the source at Clear Lake. Here you will find access to Sahalie and Koosah Falls which are only 1/2 a mile apart from each other!
How Did Sahalie and Koosah Falls Form?
About 3000 years ago, lava that flowed westward from the fissure vents of Sand Mountain and created a natural dam. This dam filled with spring water became to be known as Clear Lake. The lava flows also formed the McKenzie river whose water comes from Clear Lake. The waterfalls represent the terminus, or end of the line, of those lava flows.
How easy is the Hike?
The difficulty of the hike is as simple of hard as you want it to be.
There are parking areas for both falls that allow you to walk right up to them on the east side of the river just off HWY 126. There is also a trail that follows the river on both sides so you can park at one and easily walk to the other.
If you have a few hours to kill then this is truly a great nature experience. What I did was turn off on NF-750 just south of the Koosah Falls exit. This will lead you to the Carmen Reservoir where you can park.
Start your trail on the west side of the river and follow it upwards to Koosah Falls. Then keep going about a half a mile to reach Sahalie Falls. There is a bridge not too far upstream that allows you to cross and come down the east side of the river back to your car.
Along the way, you will see amazing rapids and mini waterfalls. The water is very clear and in some parts it has a very cool blue color.
How Close Can You Get?
One of the great things about these hikes in Oregon is your ability to explore as close as you want to. There is a spot on the east side of Sahalie that will put you directly next to where the water flows right over the cliff!
It is amazing to see up close and personal.
I would advise you to use your own discretion, however, there are some treacherous paths that could lead you to the bank and onto some igneous rocks in the middle of the river that will give you a breathtaking view of the rapids.
Can I Use My Bike on the Trail?
This trail is definitely open to people who love to ride mountain bikes. Although I did not partake in this activity on the trail there was plenty of people doing it. I would mention that it is not a straight shot and seems like a lot of work so I wouldn’t recommend it as an easy ride.
Be aware that between the viewpoints of Sahalie and Koosah Falls on the east side of the river, you have to get off your bike and walk them through.
How Much Does it Cost?
The fee for this hike is free. The only thing it costs is time but if you love the sights and sounds of nature then it will be absolutely worth it.
When is it Open?
These falls are open all year round. Be careful in the winter time because the roads around become a little slick. During spring and summer, the snow is melting off the mountain tops which results in a hefty flow of water. Any time you decide to go or pass through is a great time to check it out.
Sahalie Falls in the Movies
The most attention that Sahalie Falls ever got in popular culture was in the family movie “Homeward Bound: The incredible Journey.” The scene below shows Sassy the cat, voiced by Sally Field, falling in the McKenzie river and subsequently right over the falls.
This is a great hike in a great location. You can go down the rapids on the McKenzie river, scuba dive or kayak up at Clear Lake, or take a soak in the Cougar Hot Springs.
If these images don’t motivate you to go then check out these great quotes that always help me get to hiking. Enjoy the outdoors!