The Tamolitch falls can be found in the heart of the Willamette National Forest, at the foot of the McKenzie River, they are one of three larger waterfalls. The flow of these falls is very inconsistent, as a result of dams installed to generate power in the 1960s. Nowadays the Carmen Reservoir, south of the Koosah Falls, diverts a good portion of the river flow above the falls to the Smith – Carmen Hydroelectric system. In fact, the Tamolitch Falls are dry on most days as it takes approximately 3 days of heavy rainfall for the dam’s capacity to be reached and thus causing the falls to flow.
There is no reason to be overly disappointed about the dry falls, as nature overcompensates for this loss, through the Tamolitch Pool. Lava pouring from Belknap Crater creates a porous bed of rock that allows water to seep under the surface of the earth and emerge in a clear blue basin at the base of the fall, also known as the Blue Pool. The name Tamolitch comes from the Chinook word for bucket, getting its name from the shape of the pool at the bottom of the fall.
The hike to the blue pool trail is a surreal one, surrounded by tall trees on either side, with views of the river in between the tree trunks and the sound of the water flowing. The in and out trail rugged path moves along the Mckenzie River, with its unique deep blue hue almost as if the color has been oversaturated in an editing suite. The trail passes over a wooden bridge crossing over steam. Dead branches are scattered all around the path.
Visitors can take the time and get their feet wet in the river which is easily accessible throughout the trail. Two miles in, the path comes to an opening where the Tamolitch pool can be seen from above, behind moss-covered rocks and boulders close to where the waterfalls would be. The trail descends down to the water level at the pool, where visitors can have a dip, although the water is usually freezing cold.
The Tamolitch falls show nature’s magnificence at its prime. While mankind has altered, possibly even ruined this waterfall, the naturally formed Tamolitch pool, which fills from beneath is still a splendid sight worth visiting. Not to mention that the Willamette National Forest makes the trail to the pool a gorgeous and peaceful one.