Wednesday we rode a trail that has been on our (and pretty much every mountain biker who reads bike magazines’) bucket lists: the revered McKenzie River Trail.
The MRT starts at Clear Lake and follows the McKenzie River for 26 miles to the hamlet of McKenzie Bridge through national forest in the Cascade Range. That means mostly descending through big trees in the wet!
We shuttled to the top using McKenzie Lodge’s service. Driver Mike gave us the 2-cent speech as we drove through the at-times-alarmingly-heavy rain. He then sent us and a couple of BC bikers off on the trail. 15 seconds into the ride and we never saw the couple again.
Driver Mike and Drew
But I think that was because we had to stop to take goofy pictures.
The first of may stops was the origination of the McKenzie River at Great Spring. There is A LOT of water surfacing at this location, flowing clear and very cold (35 degrees F) into a channel that runs to Clear Lake.
Drew is standing right above some spring heads. All the water in the pool behind him is emerging right here at Great Spring. The channel goes out to Clear Lake.
The trail around Clear Lake goes through lava fields.
And over the raging McKenzie multiple times.
Go-arounds are different in the Northwest!
The second super amazing attraction on the MRT (the first is Clear Lake and the springs) is Sahalie Falls.
It is very loud and very tall. A short distance down river is Koosah Falls. Not quite as high but I think more water.
After that, the trail winds along the river to a reservoir. After the reservoir, there is no more McKenzie River. I mean that the entire river, that is, all the water in Sahalie and Koosah Falls somehow goes underground, only to resurface a mile or so later at this amazing, ultra clear Tamolitch Blue Pool, which is the third most awesome attraction on the trail.
Tamolitch Blue Pool
Following the river once again we resumed our traverse across moss and lichen covered rocks.
The rhododendrons were amazing too
We continued the descent, often in the rain. With a temperature of 53 degrees and being pretty wet from the rain, I wasn’t very comfortable. The scenery made up for it.
There were more river crossings.
More fern forest.
And hazards you don’t normally see.
And finally, 26 miles and six hours later before another wave of rain hit and messed up our bikes even more, we made it to the end of the trail and back to our van.
WHAT A RIDE!!!