5 great hikes to waterfalls in Central Oregon

5 great hikes to waterfalls in Central Oregon

While hiking through the forest is great, nothing beats a trail that leads to a waterfall. Fortunately for those in the BendBroadband communities, waterfalls are abundant. This time of year, the melting snow makes these stunning waterfalls even grander. To explore turquoise pools, jagged cliffs, and lofty forests, check out these five waterfall hikes in Central Oregon.

Tumalo Falls – This 6.5-mile loop hike, located just west of Bend, offers visitors of all ages views of several waterfalls. Shortly after leaving the parking lot, hikers come across Tumalo Falls, one of the most iconic waterfalls in the area. The water plunges 89 feet from a cliff in Deschutes National Forest. Continue on the trail to see many more waterfalls and tree-lined pools.

Sahalie and Koosah Falls – In just 2.6 miles, hikers can gaze at two massive waterfalls and adventure through Willamette National Forest. The easy hike begins at the Sahalie Falls, and you can’t miss it. The water thunders over a natural lava dam, crashing into the pool one hundred feet below. On a breezy day, you might even feel the cool mist that fills the area. The path will take you to a second 70-foot waterfall, Koosah Falls. The remainder of the loop guides hikers through the towering trees of the forest.

Steelhead Falls – This 2-mile hike in Terrebonne, Oregon offers beautiful scenery and family fun. Steep rocky walls surround hikers as the trail winds through the gorge. After a mile, you’ll arrive at the waterfall that pours into a large pool. Visitors love this location for photography and cliff jumping. Dive in or just dip your toes in the water to cool off from the heat before heading back. And don’t forget to look up – you may see a bald eagle flying above!

Peter Skene Ogden Trail – For a longer hike (up to 22.3 miles), head to La Pine, Oregon. Although the trail can be joined in several different spots, starting at McKay Campground ensures that you’ll see a waterfall – McKay Falls – right away. From here, the path runs adjacent to Paulina Creek, leading up to the lake, with several beautiful waterfalls along the way. Remember sunscreen on this hike as this trail is mostly unshaded.

Tamolitch Falls – This picturesque location is found in Willamette National Forest, just over an hour from Bend. The hike itself is part of the McKenzie River Trail, and the 2-mile path to the pool begins at the Trail Bridge Reservoir. True to its alternative name, “Blue Pool,” the water displays vibrant shades of blue you don’t see every day. The water is so clear that it appears to be only five feet deep, but is actually 30 feet deep in many spots. Tamolitch Falls is strongest in the spring when runoff is most abundant, but even without the waterfall, this location can’t be missed.

By Hannah Drewieck, Communications Intern

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