Take an easy hike to a jewel-like pool created by Oregon's ancient volcanoes.
About 75 miles east of Eugene, one of Oregon’s loveliest gems sparkles at the end of the scenic McKenzie River Trail. A trek to Tamolitch Pool, also known as the Blue Pool, is ideal in spring, when the crystalline cobalt waters are often cloaked in a cloud of other-worldly mist from a waterfall.
Tamolitch, which means “tub” or “bucket” in Chinook, formed several thousand years ago, when lava eruptions from nearby Belknap Crater stopped the McKenzie River in its tracks. Today the river percolates through the filtering rock as a spring, filling the pool before flowing out to the south. When rains are heavy, the McKenzie may cascade down into the pool from above, creating Tamolitch Falls.
The easy two-mile trail to the pool, lined by giant conifers that shade mushrooms and spring wildflowers, follows a dry creek bed, skirts a narrow gorge, and gently ascends over ancient lava flows.
Watch for half-buried rocks and tree roots in the path, which winds around mossy boulders before reaching a steep cliff overlooking the pond. The frigid waters aren’t recommended for swimmers, but for most visitors, just the sight of Tamolitch’s rich hue—produced by the water’s clarity and variable depth—is reward enough.
This article was first published in Spring 2016. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.