Oregon’s Tamolitch Blue Pool hike: How to get there

Tamolitch Blue Pool in the McKenzie River wildernerness in Central Oregon near Bend, Oregon

If you are looking for a great hike in the Western United States, a Tamolitch Blue Pool hike is an easy in-and-out trip with a beautiful destination. The Blue Pool is located on the McKenzie River Trail in Central Oregon, only about an hour outside of Bend. Learn more about the hike to the Tamolitch Blue Pool Oregon.

Click the links below to skip to any of the following sections:

How To Get To Blue Pool Oregon
From Bend to the Tamolitch Trailhead
From the Tamolitch Trailhead to the Blue Pool
From Bend to the Sahalie Falls Trailhead
From Sahalie Falls or the Carmen Smith Reservoir to the Blue Pool
Things to know about Tamolitch Blue Pool
Fires in the McKenzie River Wilderness
People
Safety
Level of difficulty for the Tamolitch Blue Pool hike
McKenzie River Trail

Tamolitch Blue Pool in Oregon

Although the water used to flow to the Tamolitch pool from a waterfall, it now flows from underground, through lava fields — creating the blue color. The waterfall now only flows over the waterfall ledge a few times a year.

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Blue Pool Oregon is anywhere between five feet and 30 feet deep, which makes it a popular diving spot. However, although the Tamolitch Blue Pool has been named one of the top swimming holes, it is on average 37 degrees (and therefore way too cold most the time).

How To Get To Blue Pool Oregon from Bend

Directions to Tamolitch Blue Pool from Bend

From Bend to the Tamolitch Trailhead:

  • Take Highway 20W through Tumalo and Sisters
  • Follow Hwy 20 W to OR-126
  • At the fork, turn left onto OR-126 E
  • Drive 9 more miles and you will see signs for the Oregon Blue Pool on your right

From the Tamolitch Trailhead to Tamolitch Blue Pool:

Because the Tamolitch Blue Pool is located on the McKenzie River Trail, it is an easy hike in. You can walk two miles from the Tamolitch Trailhead.

Drive down through the McKenzie Highway/Highway 126 and park off of NF 730. The trailhead will be within steps of the parking lot.

From Bend to the Sahalie Falls Trailhead:

  • Take Highway 20W through Tumalo and Sisters
  • Follow Hwy 20 W to OR-126
  • At the fork, turn left onto OR-126 E
  • Drive 6 more miles and you will see signs for the Sahalie Falls on your right

From Sahalie Falls or the Carmen Smith Reservoir to Tamolitch Blue Pool:

You can also do the Tamolitch Blue Pool hike three miles from the Carmen Smith Reservoir trailhead, or see two beautiful sites, and start at Sahalie Falls, another beautiful waterfall.

Either hike is a beautiful trail with beautiful scenery. If you are looking for a more people-free walk, definitely choose the second option — the trail can get pretty packed during peak seasons.

Things to know about Tamolitch Blue Pool

Tamolitch Blue Pool in the McKenzie River wildernerness in Central Oregon near Bend, Oregon

Fires in the McKenzie River Wilderness

Many years, fires will close the trails to the Tamolitch pool. In 2016, the trails were closed for nearly two months because of a fire in the area. Even if the trails are not closed, there are many times restrictions in the area, including campfire bans.

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Make sure you check whether they are open before you start your journey.

People people people

Understandably, the Tamolitch Blue Pool is very popular and most summer days the trail is packed with people. If you enjoy hiking on your own, this may not be the hike for you.

Depending on the time of day or week, expect tens or even hundreds of people to be surrounding the pool. Because the water is so cold, you won’t find many people swimming, but they will be there.

Safety at Tamolitch Blue Pool

Despite the videos you may have seen online, the Tamolitch Blue Pool holds a lot of danger — but only for the people who don’t take it seriously.

When you first arrive at the Blue Pool from your hike, there will be a ledge — and there may even be people jumping off of it. While we were there, we saw seven people jump off before the eighth was knocked out during her jump. She had to be resuscitated and paramedics were called (but only minutes later, because there is no cell phone service at the site).

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Go to the Blue Pool knowing that safety is a serious thing, and the cold water makes your water react in ways it would not react otherwise.

Level of difficulty for the Blue Pool Oregon hike

The trail to Tamolitch Blue Pool in the McKenzie River wildernerness in Central Oregon near Bend, Oregon

If you’re looking for one of the best hikes in Oregon, this may not be it. Although the end point is amazingly beautiful and worth every step, the trail is not long or difficult, and the amount of people will not make it a very peaceful hike.

However, once you see the pool, you will forget about all of that. The clear blue water is unlike anything you have ever seen or will ever see again.

McKenzie River Trail

The McKenzie River Trail is a 27-mile trail along the McKenzie River and McKenzie Highway in the Cascade Mountain Range. It begins at Clear Lake and passes multiple campgrounds, waterfalls, and even the Tamolitch Blue Pool.

The trail is available for both hiking and mountain biking, and is open year-round — although snow makes it pretty difficult to travel the entire thing. If you are looking to take your mountain bike down the entire trail, expect up to four or five hours due to some difficult sections.

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The lava fields that helped Tamolitch Blue Pool get its blue color also gives visitors a view of lava flows along their journey on the trail. You can also see at least two waterfalls on the trail, Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls, and if you visit at the right time, you can also see the water flow over Tamolitch Blue Pool.

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