As I hiked to Blue Pool, I wondered if it would really have the jewel-toned blue water I had seen in so many pictures. We walked for four miles and finally caught a glimpse of this small lake. Walking to the edge of a steep cliff, we looked down at its crystal clear waters.
Blue Pool, also known as Tamolitch Pool, was breathtakingly beautiful on this bright and sunny day. The turquoise and sapphire blue waters sparkled up at us. The leaves of trees surrounding the pool were just beginning to change color. Their reflections in the water looked like an Impressionist painting.
There used to be an impressive waterfall here but recent volcanic activity, and a diversion for hydroelectric power, has changed the course of the river. The river still flows over the falls occasionally during times of snow melt.
We arrived at the pool at 12:30 pm and there were three hikers down at the water’s edge. They intended to take a dip in the pool but hesitated for quite a while. I don’t blame them since the pool’s water temperature is only 37-40° F. Oooh, that would be cold! They finally got their courage up and screeched as they entered the frigid water. Like others before them, they did not stay in for long.
Some visitors prefer to jump off the 60-70 foot high cliff overlooking the pool and plunge into the water far below. The ice-cold water gets as deep as 30 feet. It looks so inviting but many have been injured here and a few have died so it’s NOT recommended. I think cliff diving into a big warm lake, as I did many years ago, would be a lot more fun.
We started our hike at Carmen Reservoir and made our way along the McKenzie River Trail. We walked through primeval looking forests dominated by Douglas’ fir, western hemlock, cedar, and an occasional pine tree. Drier areas had leggy rhododendrons reaching upwards towards the light; moister areas were draped in moss and ferns. Log footbridges led us over dry chasms that contain water only during times of really wet conditions. The trail had little elevation gain and was mostly smooth but did contain areas where rough lava rock or tree roots slowed our progress a little. Several mountain bikes whizzed past us at different points of the walk.
You walk close to the McKenzie River for the first part of this walk and then it vanishes. It actually goes underground for three miles and then pops up again in Blue Pool. The headwaters of the McKenzie River are located in Clear Lake, several miles to the north. See my post on Clear Lake here.
After we finished visiting the pool, we walked two more miles south to Tamolitch Trailhead. This is the place most hikers start and Blue Pool is a very popular destination. Blue Pool is located about 60 miles west of Bend and 68 miles east of Eugene. One of the people in our Bend Parks & Recreation hiking group dropped us off at Carmen Reservoir, drove to Tamolitch Trailhead, parked, hiked in to meet us, and followed us out to the van. That worked out well!
Tamolitch is a Chinook word meaning “bucket” or “tub.” I see why so many people include this place on their bucket list.
We were lucky to make this hike since the area has been closed due to a fire close by. It just reopened but a ranger and firefighter were at the pool to remind people not to smoke.
Be prepared on any trips you make into the backcountry and help to preserve its beauty for the rest of us. Thanks!