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McKenzie River National Recreational Trail [CLOSED]

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Willamette National Forest

McKenzie River National Recreational Trail [CLOSED] is a 24.1 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Blue River, Oregon that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Length 24.1 mi Elevation gain 797 ft Route type Point to Point
Dog friendly Camping Hiking Mountain biking Nature trips Bike touring Running Forest Lake River Views Wild flowers Wildlife Muddy Closed
Description
Waypoints (13)
Contact
Tips
Getting There

As of September 2020, trails in this area are closed due to wildfire. See park page for more information. This is an amazing bike trail, one of the best in Oregon. You'll pass by beautiful lakes, two big waterfalls, through lava fields and through beautiful forests.

If biking, you can leave one car at the Mckenzie Bridge Ranger Station near the town off HWY 126 and then drive the other car and the bikes up to the start of the trip at the Clear Lake Parking area about a 20 minute drive up the road. You'll want Northwest Forest Passes for both parking lots.

Directions from Eugene: Travel 50 miles east on Hwy. #126 and the trailhead is approximately 1.5 miles past McKenzie Bridge.

Weather
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Reviews (71)
Photos (1805)
Recordings (62)
Completed (161)
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Jeremy Peacock
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Mountain biking
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Stacey Hanf
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 24, 2020
HikingRocky

Only did 6 mile and will do the rest tomorrow. Started at Clear Lake and ended at Carmen Reservoir. Beautiful falls, no bees or mosquitos, beautiful lake. Not many people. .

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Amir Guerouate
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 22, 2020
HikingGreat!Rocky

Did this trail in just over 1 day and 1 night. We did the trail in 2 parts. The first day we did 20 miles from the start to Belknap hot springs, lodge and gardens. We stayed the night there. It took us about 10 hours. Also I do not recommend doing 20 miles in a day unless you can handle it because you will be very tired by the end of the day. The second day we did the remaining 6 miles. It only took us about 1 and a half hours. Bugs weren't really an issue and you don't need hiking poles as the trail is gradual downhill. What you should bring are good shoes. I just brought tennis shoes and slipped and tripped many times. The trail wasn't crowded except for the blue pool part and occasional bikers passing by. There are several spots to eat or take a dip in the water. The highlights were Clear lake, Blue pool and Sahalie falls. I'll be honest after the first 10 miles or so the trail is nothing special. The first 10 miles are where all the highlights were.

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Kendra Hutchinson
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BackpackingGreat!
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Adam Stone
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 16, 2020
BackpackingGreat!

The signs at both trailheads have this listed as 25.9 miles. I tracked it on Strava and it ended up being 27.4 miles. Plenty of places to camp throughout most of the trail. Try and avoid Blue Pool anytime past 9 AM on a weekend, so many people. If you start at the Upper Trailhead, you'll be going downhill most of the way, so it's a bit easier. I would give it 5 stars, but a decent bit of the trail is close to the highway and you can hear the cars zooming by.

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Jeffrey Richards
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 10, 2020
HikingGreat!Rocky

So glad I did this one (on mountain bike)! Started at Clear Lake day-use area and ended at Camp Yale, a few miles short of the trail's end. All in all, loved it. First 10 miles were particularly challenging. Trail snakes through numerous lava fields. Wheels traps around most corners (yes, I did two slow-motion endos). The section near Blue Pool, has plenty of challenging mini-climbs (and lots of hikers to cheer you on). There is some legitimate climbing and narrow, high exposure sections, to get around areas where there is no space between the river and the mountain. The last 5 miles or so (before the Belknap Springs road) were fantastic with relatively good hard-pack trail with twists and turns through a gorgeous forest. Other than the crowded Blue Pool section, I saw one other group of three bikers and about four hikers. hours passed with no other person on the trail. That is both good and bad. I had no cell service. Bail-out points are few and far between. If I could do it again, I would start about noon. I started at 3:00 p.m. in August and the ride took 3:30. With north/south mountains to the west of the trail, the entire ride was in shadow. Much of the trail was so dark, it was like riding in dusk conditions. Gratefully, I brought clear lenses to swap out with my polarized dark lenses. It would have been better to have direct overhead sunlight filtering through the trees.

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Sarah Wagner
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 29, 2020
Backpacking

Started a three day/two night backpacking trip Thursday 6/25 with friend and her 4.5 yo daughter and my dog. Trail was well maintained, easy to follow, very friendly for kids and dogs. There were some steep or busy parts so I recommend this one for experienced kiddos and dogs or to have great experience yourself. A little busy in the popular sections but still plenty of solitude in parts. Mosquitos weren’t too bad and mostly shaded from the heat of the sun. Started at Mckenzie River Ranger station (some camp sites were available a couple miles in) - we went 7.39 miles to camp by Twisty creek. No visible spots for a couple miles after that. Camped #2 0.75 miles into Blue Pool TH trail by Kink Creek after 9.29 miles. Only spots nearby were after blue pool before the Falls trailhead. Parked shuttle car at clear lake resort to hike 8.45 miles to on third day. The highway is occasionally audible from the trail though often it’s the river that’s louder! There are parts were the trail is away from water or is high above it for purifying purposes. Overall, wonderful hike, great hikers and mountain bikers, never ugly spot, and so glad to have done it.

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Peter Mathios
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Running

Ran from the upper trailhead to Frissel Boat Ramp. There was almost nobody the whole way except for the large crowds on the Blue Pool section It was like a freeway of people which is understandable on a Saturday. Other than that, the trail conditions are great when not in the technical lava rock sections and except for some mud on the Blue Pool part. This is a very fun run! Of note, the sign at the top is blown over. Go right over the bridge. If you go straight out of the lot, you'll end up on the Old Santiam Wagon Trail, which looks fun but will have to wait for another day.

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Alicia Rogers
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BackpackingBugs

This is a great river trail, it is extremely well maintained and easy to follow. There are a few sections that you are fully exposed to the highway and you can hear the road on the majority of the trail. Blue Pool was the only very busy section, but it was Saturday so definitely expected. There is no cell phone service except for the very end, so don't expect to make calls. Bring bug spray, the mosquitoes were hungry! Day 1: We parked and started at the upper trail head above Clear Lake at about 2pm on Friday and hiked to Blue Pool. Be aware that for a few miles before Blue Pool the river dips underground and there is no access to flowing water in case you run out and need to filter. You will pass by some swampy areas if you are desperate. There are several camping spots right above Blue Pool, to access Blue Pool you can cross the dry river bed and scramble down to the Pool. Day 2: Starting out Saturday morning we saw plenty of people for the first couple miles headed to Blue Pool, you'll cross a gravel road where a parking lot and pit toilet is located. There is also a dumpster if you want to take the opportunity to empty your trash bag. You'll pass plenty of bridges, with lots of access to water, several gravel roads, and hear the highway for the majority of this section. We passed a few pretty exposed campsites along the way to Buck's Bridge where we planned to stop for the night. There is a large clearing and several spots if you stop before the bridge. There are also a couple site within the mile past the bridge. Day 3: This is the most exposed area of the trail, we passed by houses, a campground, as well as several areas of the trail that are just off the shoulder of the highway. The trail sticks to the river for the most part and you'll pass over some tributaries for water filtration. 5ish miles later there is a sign pointing out the ranger station, in another mile or so the trail dead ends at a parking lot with a port-o-potty to end your trip. TLDR: Well maintained. Bring bug spray. Highway noises. Mostly shaded.

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Hannah Jines
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HikingBugsRocky

Beautiful hike. We went about 4+ miles in, just around Clear Lake. Definitely can be chilly for the first section of the hike as it’s mostly in the woods and shaded. Trail opens up around the lake and is a rocky path, much warmer and in the sun. The lake is BEAUTIFUL. Super clear, blue water. Some snow on the ground still in the woods, not any on the path of the trail.

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Amanda Brewster
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 2, 2019
Backpacking

My first multi night trip and it was fantastic! There are a fair number of bikers across the entire trail, and a lot of day hikers around blue pool and the two falls, but we still had lots of time on the trail with no humans in sight. we camped the first night about one mile down from blue pool and the 2nd night at a great site across the street from a boat ramp (starts with an f... dont remember the name). i actually really enjoyed that there are so many trailheads and camp grounds along the trail. plenty of places to use a real bathroom and get rid of trash. late august there were no bug issues.

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Jonathan L
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 30, 2019
Hiking

Beautiful trail with diverse terrain. My sister and I backpacked it as an overnight. Trail is easy to follow, even in the dark and aside for the few miles around the main attractions, was fairly deserted.

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Julie Polick de Haven
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Fabulous hike. Very easy but long. My daughter and I hiked the trail in 2 days, camping about half way. Clear Lake, Blue pool and 2 beautiful waterfalls were the highlights but the whole trail was amazing.

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Theresa Weaver
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 29, 2019
Hiking

Beautiful, diverse hike. We started at McKenzie River trailhead above Clear Lake and ended at Trail Bridge trailhead. Great weather and views. Easy walk for kids and dogs, minus the length.

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Rich D
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 21, 2019
BackpackingRocky

I was using this as a training hike and always appreciate the amazing trees and geology of rivers that disappear then reappear. Had lots of space to myself except near the Blue Pool but I am glad to see so many folks enjoying nature.

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Sean Fuller
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 21, 2019
Hiking

Just hiked from end to end, taking a shuttle from the bottom, getting dropped off at the top. It was a fantastic trail. So much natural wonder all in the span of a few days' walk. The trail is very well marked at almost every junction. The only point of complaint is that if splitting up the hike over 3 days, as we did, there are few ideal spaces to camp when done for the day. The trail follows the river almost constantly but is sometimes inaccessible. We planned poorly for this and didn't pack enough water containers to camp away from a water source. Blue Pool (8.8 mi) is a natural stopping point after the first day, but you should either camp somewhere during the mile or so stretch before then in order to be by the river, or camp at the top of Blue Pool with enough water packed for cooking, or continue about 2 miles on. Even then spots were sparse because of the busyness of that 2-mile section of trail for day hikers from the trailhead. Ideal spots for camping were seen at Trail Creek Reservoir, also halfway between there and Deer Creek, and at Deer Creek itself. We camped the second night just before Buck Bridge. There were a couple of spots just after that point as well.

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Josephine Brew
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 5, 2019
Hiking

Belknap Hot Spring to Paradise Camp Ground. This trail is beautiful. The trail angels have cleared most of the past storm damage, thank you! On this particular section there are two massive fir trees that have fallen and taken out the trail. Some engineering is required to fix this section. Scampering through the mud pits of the root balls is required here.

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Michael S
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 31, 2019
BlowdownMuddyScrambleSnowWashed out

I just hiked about a 1/4 of this trail on an overnight (3/29/19-3/30/19) with my eight year old. It was not an easy hike like it's supposed to be. This trail was recently blasted by a massive storm, wreaking havoc with high winds and deep snow. There are now hundreds of large and small trees over the trail, and some deep snow banks. This makes the trail exhausting and a little dangerous right now. Without the downed trees this is a beautiful hike with an easy trail. Unfortunately your are between the river and the road for a good portion of this hike, so there is some traffic noise at different times, this is why I would rate it a 4 and not a 5. We just did an overnight and covered only about 12 miles of trail out and back, 6 miles one way. The first few miles are very comfortable and technically very basic. The park staff and volunteers have cleared the few miles either side of the ranger station. Paradise Campground was quite nice, there was still packed snow on the ground and a few trees down but it was easy to navigate and decent place to set up camp with a young hiker in tow. The next few miles heading to Belknap Hotsprings gets progressively more difficult. Initially you'll find trees down every few hundred yards or so, with a few tough and slippery scrambles. As you get close to the bridge to Belknap there are two massive trees that have collapsed into the river. It's an amazing sight, they took the trail with them, but the are blocking the river creating a natural dam, it's quite a sight. Here you can choose to traverse the muddy root wells, but it is slick and steep and you'll need to be very careful, otherwise back track and walk the ridge. The trail continues to get more dense and littered with downed trees. There is still deep patches of snow that are crunchy and collapse easily, you could break a trekking pole or worse. We left a day earlier than planned, we were exhausted and a little bruised from climbing and stumbling over trail debris and washouts. I'm looking forward to hitting this trail again when it's clean and cleared.

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Adam Fast
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 28, 2018
Mountain biking

A must do crown jewel mtb trail.....I mean don’t do it......it’s not one of the most scenic and varied trails you’ll find anywhere

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Daniel Wagner
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 10, 2018
Mountain biking

kicked my butt on a hardtail but awesome!

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Allison Dickerson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 2, 2018
Hiking

We only hiked from the beginning trailhead over to Clear Lake and had a snack at the resort and then back... a total of 4.5 miles but the hike was wonderful! Large old growth trees, a few wildflowers here and there, and of course Clear Lake is breathtaking. The McKenzie River Trail hit s a "T" and we took the Clear Lake trail over to the resort area. Definitely friendly for kids & dogs (on leash of course). We hiked with a 7 & 13 year old, and our little 7 y.o. was a bit tired by the end. The trail is an easy hike, clearly marked and well maintained. We will definitely be back to hike around the lake on the McKenzie River Trail portion. We encountered several people but it was a Sunday so to be expected. Would recommend going on a weekday?

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Shay Hurlocker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 22, 2016
Hiking

A perfect little hike--take the kids, take your parents who don't like hiking--they will after this one! Beautiful forest follows river then goes up above river on lave rock to the gorgeous Tamolitch Pool. Something special to see for sure.

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Tina Warchol
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 27, 2016

bathrooms we're disgusting

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