Blue Pool (also known as Tamolitch Falls, a Northwest Indian name meaning "bucket") was created when a lava flow originating from Belknap Crater buried a 3 mile stretch of the McKenzie River 1,600 years ago. The river daylights again at Blue Pool at the base of Tamolitch Falls at a bone chilling 37 degrees Fahrenheit. While the falls are dry the majority of the time, during wet winters, the McKenzie River can flow with enough volume to make it over the lava beds and reach the falls.
The trail to Blue Pool begins at the McKenzie River Trailhead near Trail Bridge Reservoir, just off of Highway 126. Even though a large parking area is present at the trailhead, the extremely heavy use of the trail means that parking may be limited. The trail starts at the far north end of the parking area, just to the left of the informational kiosk. (It informs you that if you jump into the pool, you could have a heart attack and die. Not joking.)
The hike begins by closely following the McKenzie River through a beautiful old growth Douglas Fir forest. About a mile into the hike, the trail begins to climb up the lava flow above the river. The way become much more rocky at this point so watch your footing. There are also a couple places where the trail approaches the edge of a cliff above the river. This trail is very popular and often very crowded, so watch for other hikers, runners, and mountain bikers trying to pick their way along this narrow, rocky section of trail as well.
After 2 miles, you will make your way to the edge of the basin that overlooks Blue Pool. The water is amazingly blue and clear because of the lack of sediment and organic matter as it emerges at the base of the falls. The beautiful pool reflects the cliff lined basin and trees. You can continue across the top of the falls at this point and make your way down to the pool if you choose. Just be cautious of you decide to go for a swim, the water is frigid and several people have drowned as a result of jumping in the icy pool.
The Blue Pool trailhead is located just off of Highway 126 on the north side of Trail Bridge Reservoir. The turnoff is located on the west side of the highway, approximately 9 miles south of the Highway 20/126 junction or 11 miles north of the Highway 126/242 junction, if you're coming from the Eugene area. The road travels to the north on a bridge over the McKenzie where it then Ts. Take a right and find a parking spot. The trailhead is at the end of the road.
Passes: No passes are required.
Dogs: Allowed and must be on leash or under voice command at all times. However, the trail is very busy and shared by mountain bikers, so leashes are recommended.
Open Season: Open and accessable all year, but can be covered in snow with pools of water along the trail during winter months.
Caution One of the big draws of Blue Pool is swimming. However, the water averges 37 degrees and you can become hyothermic in less than 10 minutes.