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McKenzie River National Recreational Trail

HARD 44 reviews
#25 of 136 trails in

McKenzie River National Recreational Trail 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.

Distance: 24.1 miles Elevation Gain: 2,509 feet Route Type: Point to Point

dog friendly



mountain biking

nature trips

bike touring

bird watching






wild flowers



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.

18 days ago

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.

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.

1 month ago

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.

2 months ago

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.

2 months ago

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.

2 months ago

Did my 4th Annual McKenzie River Hike yesterday. I normally go with people and split it into 2/3 days. Yesterday it was just me and my pup, and we ended up completing it within the day. 26 miles, took the shuttle from the South Trailhead up to Clear Lake and walked back down. Pack was 60 lbs before I drank all the water - took us 10 hours to hike. Plenty of water along the trail for the dog, and I ran out of water for myself 7 miles before the end but didn't want to take the time to filter it, so just kept going. Totally doable, beautiful as always. Likely will ditch the pack and run it next time to shave down the time.

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.

washed out
5 months ago

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.

11 months ago

One of the most beautiful trails I have ever run. First few miles are fairly flat (maybe more but I turned around).

mountain biking
Monday, September 10, 2018

kicked my butt on a hardtail but awesome!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Great trail! Best if you can hike it end to end. Unfortunately, the regional utility is doing needed improvements and has FLOODED a section of the trail below Carmen Diversion reservoir. The water is about 3 feet deep-for the next couple years

Friday, March 24, 2017

Did the whole thing (Clear Lake to South Trailhead) which should be 26 miles unless you get lost a lot like me, in which case it turns into 28. Nice campground about halfway (Trail Bridge Reservoir), amazing views on the way. I did it in two days with late starts, but I would suggest taking three days to do it if you haven't seen the scenery. You'll want to stop and take pictures. There is a bus service that will take you to the trailhead and you can leave your car at the end. $30 from what I can remember. Edit: I've done this trail each year now, and the best itinerary thus far was getting the early morning bus and going from Clear Lake to Blue Pool (8.8 miles), Blue Pool to Buck's Bridge (10.2 miles), and Bucks Bridge to Trailhead (6.9 miles). It's a three day, two night hike and allows you to really stop and see the sights. You also hike only about half the day each day with mid-early starts, which is great for beginner backpackers. I take non-experienced backpacking friends and they love it.

Monday, September 19, 2016

I hiked the McKenzie River trail from the northern end to Tamolitch pool and back. Great backpacking trip, for sure! Hikers and bikers should keep an eye out for each other, especially on narrow parts of the trail and on slopes. Sahalie and Koosah Falls are both gorgeous and there are trails on the opposite side of the river that are family friendly and easily accessed from the highway.

Monday, August 22, 2016

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.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

bathrooms we're disgusting

Saturday, June 04, 2011

This was one of the hardest trips I've ever done, mostly because I'm not a biker. Did the entire 26 miles in 9 hours, and took two headers over the handle bars. The hardest section is from Tamolitch/Blue Pool for about a mile. It's all technical lava rock. For beginners start at Carmen Reservoir, it's a nice 14 mile ride that isn't too technical at all. Still glad to check the entire 26 miles off my list of Oregon adventures.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I absolutely love camping up in this area! The McKenzie River is simply amazing and provides a lot of great outdoor activities. The fishing along it are some of the best in the nation. Some of my favorite camping areas are Blue River Reservoir and a little further up river. Both camping areas have restrooms, and boat ramps available. Also hiking trailheads are near by. Blue River Reservoir is more for those that simply want to set up their tent or camper right along the shore. Paradise Campground is more established, with set campsites, and a restrooms throughout the campgrounds. Great places to camp with the whole family. Be sure to reserve a spot for Paradise, because the campground is quite popular and fills up quickly during the summer.

2 months ago

3 months ago

4 months ago

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