Monday, July 21, 2014

Waterfalls of the McKenzie

I didn't mean to keep everyone hanging so long, waiting for part two.  But....sadly life (aka my real job) gets in the way of other fun stuff (such as taking photos and blogging about them).

But now without further adieu......I give you day two of our July 4th camping trip!

Clear Lake in the morning

If you read my last post then you know my hubby and I decided to spend July 4th weekend up in the Cascade mountains camping.  We chose a lovely spot at Clear Lake, and had a wonderful first day checking out it's shores.

Roger and Bear ready to hike

Day two, we were ready for more exploration.  A mile from our campground was the McKenzie River trail, which of course followed the McKenzie River, a whitewater mountain stream.  Along this trail were two impressive waterfalls - Sahalie and Koosah Falls.

Our trail for the day

Roger, Bear, and I began our hike following Clear Lake's grassy shoreline, offering occasional glimpses of it's lovely blue-green waters.  At a junction, our path left the lake, and plunged into an old-growth forest full of huge Douglas Firs.

The trees were ginormous! (photo by Roger)

It wasn't long before we heard the rushing waters of the McKenzie River.  The trail led us across the highway and began to parallel this lovely churning stream.  The water, originating from the springs above Clear Lake, was tinged with a hint of blue.

Lovely McKenzie River

Our hike today was a short 4.6-mile loop.  We'd first traverse the east side of McKenzie River, taking in the developed (aka "touristy") overlooks for both waterfalls.  Then, our trail would turn and cross the river, leading back across the western bank, for another view of both cascades.

Posing on the log bridge

Our loop began at a rustic log footbridge over the McKenzie.  We'd cross this on our return trip, but both Roger and I couldn't resist climbing up and checking out the river.  Plus, the bridge made for some great photo ops!

My boys on the bridge

Even Bear followed us up there!

This squirrel was hoping for a handout

As I was packing up my camera, Roger spotted a squirrel cautiously creeping across the bridge.  The little guy was obviously used to being fed by hikers, and I think he was hoping for a handout.  Mr. Squirrelly didn't get any grub from us - but he did get his picture taken multiple times.

Sahalie Falls

Not far from the footbridge, I began to hear the sound of water roaring.  Our trail became more developed, with log handrails to protect visitors from falling into the steep canyon below.  This path led us to a large overlook, and there before us was the raging torrent of Sahalie Falls.

One of the many river overlooks

At 100 feet in height this waterfall, swollen by snowmelt, resembled a thick firehose.  Spray swirled up from it's base, dampening my camera lens even though I was nearly a football field's length away.  Due to poor lighting and interference from other visitors, I was disappointed with my photo attempts.  But I'm including one image here, so you get to see it anyway.

Koosah Falls

On to the next waterfall!  Another half mile of following the lovely McKenzie brought us to Koosah Falls.  I liked this cascade much better.  Although shorter than Sahalie, (only 70 feet in height), it was thinner and more delicate than it's big sister.  And it had multiple water streams flowing down the cliff face.

Koosah Falls zoomed out (photo by Roger)

Later research explained the origin of the waterfall's unusual names.  "Sahalie" meant such things as "top," "sky," and "heaven" in Chinook jargon (which was the old trade language of Northwest Indians).  "Koosah" also meant "sky" or "heaven" in Chinook.

Ultra-blue waters of the McKenzie

After checking out the wonderful developed overlook for Koosah Falls, Roger and I continued along our riverside path.  We came out at a dam above a small reservoir.  Crossing the river on a road over the dam brought us to the western side, and the return trail.

Roger perched on the cliff's edge

The western trail was less developed, and much rougher.  I climbed over rocks and tree roots, watching my every step.  The riverbank began to get higher, and steeper, until it became a tall cliff.  It was there that we came upon Koosah Falls once again.

His shot of Koosah Falls (photo by Roger)

It was fun to see this waterfall from a different angle.  However, there were no handrails or developed overlooks here.  Roger perched precariously on the cliff's edge to snap a couple of images.  I edged as close as I dared, but not wanting to make the evening news, stayed a good distance away.

Tiger lily!

Then we continued on, up the path, climbing through the forest.  I spotted a few flowers still blooming - tiger lilies, and a couple of gorgeous white Cascade lilies.  We ran into quite a few groups of mountain bikers.  I was surprised to see so many people riding bikes on this rocky, narrow trail. 

Our trail went right through this downed tree

Especially when the trail crossed a downed tree via a makeshift staircase!  Wonder how the bikes rode over this?

Another view of Sahalie Falls (photo by Roger)

By now the sun had risen high in the sky, and things had begun to warm up considerably.  But passing by Sahalie Falls one last time, the spray from this churning monster cascade provided a nice cooling mist.  Refreshed by this unexpected shower, Roger and I headed for the footbridge, and our campsite.

Cascade Lily

By this time our poor old doggy was beginning to flag.  We didn't want to leave him alone at our campsite, so he had to come along.  Bear did pretty good up until the final mile, when his ailing back legs began to act up.  But old Bear was a trooper, and was able to make it all the way back to camp, where he curled up and slept the afternoon away.

Heading back to camp

A lovely hike indeed!  It was great to be able to access this trail right from our campsite.  It was such a beautiful path I was tempted to sneak out and do it again.

We spent July 4th eve peacefully sitting by the campfire (no fireworks allowed in the National Forest) with a tired doggy snoozing nearby.  But I was already planning the next day's hike - a trip up McKenzie Pass to explore a high alpine lake. 

Check back for my next post, and I'll tell you all about it.

Sharing with:  Saturday's Critters and Our World Tuesday.


  1. What a glorious place for a walk! I could stay quite a while there and enjoy the sound and scent of the water! Gorgeous, Linda!

  2. Thank you for NOT making the evening news Linda! Am glad you, Bear and Roger ALL made it back safely to camp.
    What a beautiful old growth tree--I feel the NEED to hug one now:)
    Loved that Cascade Lily--so very pretty!

  3. Another spectacular post.. That's one awesome trail, and the falls are beyond gorgeous.
    You captured it all beautifully!

  4. Hello Linda, The waterfalls and hike were beautiful. And I love your cute dog Bear and the squirrel.. That big old tree is gorgeous..Wonderful series of photos, thanks for linking up your post.. Have a happy day!

  5. Another fine collection of photos. The scenery is beautiful.

  6. That is one mighty tree, your arms don't even go half way round it


  7. Nice pictures of a very nice spot. My brother is going to retire and lives in Florida. He is looking for a place to rent for the hottest part of summer ( next year). I gave him a link to your blog and he said he really liked your area of Oregon.

  8. My favorite pic is the one on the overlook with Bear looking back at you. Obviously, wherever he is, he "only has eyes for you!" (Now, I'm dating myself and will have that tune in my head all day!) Am always amazed at the volume and height of the waterfalls in the NW. We have so few that are 100 feet tall.

  9. Sounds like a wonderful weekend in a great place. Love the colour in the water, the waterfalls, and those log bridges!

  10. I love your shots and your hiking adventures. i have done so many of these hikes, and really miss doing them. Has been a year since I have had the chance to do a wonderful long hike in the mountains. I love your shots of the waterfalls with your filter. Great!

  11. What amazing waterfalls and such a beautiful place to walk

  12. Calling by from Our World Tuesday, what a stunning place to camp in.

  13. Beautiful images of gorgeous waterfalls. I think you did an amazing job capturing them.

    Beautiful scenery.

  14. That looks like a fun camping trip Linda. Great photos!

  15. I could hear the sounds of those magnificent waterfalls from here. I feel very sorry for Bear though.

  16. what a fantastic place to walk with your dog. the waterfalls are magnificent and the squirrel is really cute.

  17. What a great way to spend the 4th of July, Linda. You do a great job capturing the beauty you see on your adventures. Your photos make me feel like I am hiking with you.

  18. Spectacular! What an incredible getaway. I love your photos. I was going to choose a favourite, but I can't. They're all great.

  19. Oh how gorgeous! And you even photographed a squirrel!

  20. Very pretty! I'm wondering what the sign on the tree next to Roger says. "Do not walk beyond this sign"?

  21. I think that photo of the rushing river is one of my all time favorites on this blog!! Gorgeous photos, as always. :)

  22. What a fabulous place to hike. I'm a big fan of waterfalls. Love your photos of them!

  23. exquisite! Especially the big tree hug and the flower close ups.

  24. Poor Bear, such a trooper. Great photos. Looks like it was a great trip.

  25. What a great hike. Those are some great waterfall shots.

  26. Glad Bear made it! The shots you got of the falls are super. I liked you tree hugging - shows the girth of that old growth.


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