Hiking on the Mckenzie River with Kids

Hiking on the Mckenzie River with Kids


Our family loves the Mckenzie River area, it is such a gorgeous area and so different then Central Oregon hiking. Within 90 minutes you can be to some of the lushest, green hiking trails Oregon has to offer. The Mckenzie River trail is over 26 miles long and has tons of kid friendly spots along the way. Here are some of our family’s tips for hiking and enjoying a day by the Mckenzie River.

 ·        Sahalie to Koosah Falls hike. Our kids absolutely love this section of the trail. There are two parking lots, one at each trailhead. We park at the Sahalie falls trailhead, there is a restroom there and the trail starts out paved here. The whole trail is not stroller/wheelchair friendly but at this location you can reach the falls with a stroller from the parking lot.

·        We start at Sahalie falls and head toward Koosah Falls. The trail meanders by the river, it is not overly steep but there are sections of wooded stairs and tons of tree roots to move around. The kids loved locating the different moss and mushrooms and vegetation they aren’t use to seeing in the desert. At Sahalie falls you can also reach the top of the falls by going right at the parking lot and hooking up and around the falls.

·        There is a 2.5 mile loop you can take to circle back around, but with kids we usually just go down and back on the same trail and head off to lunch.

·        Blue Pool. The Blue Pool hike is about 2.2 miles round trip. One mile in and one mile out, but the pool it self sits down a very steep, very high rock face. I would only recommend this hike to older kids you can trust won’t wander too close to the edge. We have not taken our toddler here yet for that reason. But the hike itself is quite gorgeous and very lush green with wonderful rock outcrops and a stunning view of the pool. You can’t really swim in the pool but if you have older kids you can walk around the outside edge to the hill that leads you down the hill to the water. This is a must see piece of Oregon.

·        Belknap Hotsprings. There is some gorgeous kid friendly hiking at this small resort. They also have some park like camping and cabins to rent as well. You can also pay to swim in the hotsprings, which are more like natural pools. They don’t let babies or diapered toddlers in the pools FYI. But if you park in their parking lot and walk across the bridge over the river there is gorgeous kid friendly hiking options. Left across the bridge is a natural hiking trail that you can take out and back for as long as you wish, it wanders by the river. If you go right at the bridge they’ve built and designed natural gardens with easy trails that are wonderful for hiking with kids. If there aren’t events in the lawns you can stop and have a picnic and play in the grass. It’s a beautiful hidden gem.

·        Food in McKenzie. There are several restaurants in the area but the easiest to stop at and very kid friendly is the Mckenzie General Store. They have a large yard and covered area.  I recommend splitting a meal here as the kid’s meals are pricey and heavy but overall it’s a great kid friendly food option in the area.

·        Always bring rain jackets. Even if it is sunny in Bend it can turn to rain quickly in this area.

·        Fall is magical, and I do mean magic. For us Pine Tree Lovers there is nothing more beautiful than the Mcknezie River in fall. The prime time to visit for fall color is October. Aim for mid October to catch it perfectly.

·        And if you’re looking to make a weekend of it. I highly recommend the Horse Creek Lodge. It is a small family run property with several very nice cabins. They also run the local mountain biking shuttle and have white water rafting tours in the summer. I cannot recommend this place enough for a weekend getaway, with or without kids. They can recommend family friendly sections of the trail for mountain biking, rent your bikes and shuttle you up there. It’s a great experience for all levels of riders.