Padre Adventure: McKenzie River & Ale Trails (Eugene)

In the years since my Grandma passed away, my Padre and I, sometimes joined by my Aunt Debbie and my husband Gene, have gone south on Memorial Day Weekend to Gold Beach to visit her grave. This year, due to my recent transfer, I wasn’t able to get enough days off to make that drive worth it. Instead, Padre and I decided to head to Eugene and do a little exploring!

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Our first stop was Sahalie (and Koosah) Falls, along the McKenzie River. The parking lot isn’t huge, but we found a place to park easily, despite the Memorial Day Weekend crowd. The bathrooms were sufficient, and pretty clean actually! There is a hiking loop here you can do, up around Sahalie, back down to the reservoir and then back up to the parking lot. Instead, we decided to continue on the trail to Tamolitch (Blue Pool) Falls. This turned the 2.2 mile loop into an 8 mile trek (sorry Padre!). Oops!

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Sahalie Falls
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Padre!
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Well groomed trail head.

The water of the McKenzie River was absolutely stunning! Clear and icy blue, it was my favorite part of the hike!

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Continue on down the beautiful trail and you will come to the top of Koosah Falls. There is a wonderful vantage point on the other side, looking back towards the falls. There are some stairs to navigate, but the trail is still pretty nice through here!

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From the top of Koosah (see the spray to the right?)
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Gorgeous Koosah Falls
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Koosah from a little farther down the trail.

When you arrive at Carmen Reservoir, it’s a little hard to locate the trail again. Do NOT circle to the end of the reservoir (not sayin’ we did that, but maybe we did that). Instead, when you come out of the trail onto the road, head right over the bridge. You will see a bathroom (take advantage as there is not one for quite some time), and the trail continuation is to the right. As you walk into the woods, follow the trail left to continue on to Tamolitch.

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Babies in the reservoir!

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend following the trail in this manner. The forest was beautiful, but there isn’t as much to see along this stretch – and it is shared with mountain bikers. Though they are mostly polite and announce their presence, it takes away a little of the zen for me, constantly being on guard to the need to step off the trail. Also, a lot of this section was marshy, muddy and mosquito filled. Instead, you can drive down to the Tamolitch trail head, and hike up that way!

It was busy at Tamolitch, but didn’t take much effort to get some gorgeous shots of the pool without strangers in them.

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We had rented an Air BnB in Eugene, so after finishing our lengthy hike, we headed in to town (I fell asleep on the drive, of course), dropped our stuff off and went out to start the Eugene Ale Trail! I created a spreadsheet (I LOVE SPREADSHEETS), which included some of the breweries on the list, in order and walking distance from our Air BnB, so neither of us had to be the designated driver!

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Not my best spreadsheet, but it was helpful!

First stop: The Elk Horn Brewery & Cider House. Let’s just try to ignore the fact that elk have antlers, and not horns…even though it bothers me EVERY TIME people use this phrase! The fact that the food and beer is AMAZING helped me forget that tiny issue! Padre’s favorite beer was the Switchback IPA, and mine was the Windigo Stout. The food was also delicious – I had the Mac n’ Cheese with BBQ seasoning, and Padre had the Elkaholic Elk Burger! I could’ve stayed here all night, but we had a spreadsheet to follow! 😉

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Stop #2 was Sam Bond’s Brewing Co. – a cute little venue with live music and not too busy. Dad had the I am Sam Amber and I had the Up Tempo Ale (fruity and refreshing) while we sat outside at the picnic tables in the sun!

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Stop # 3: Steelhead Brewing Company. Padre enjoyed the Raging Rhino Red and I had the Bombay Bomber APA, while we sat in adorable (and comfy) wing-back chairs!

Stop # 4: ColdFire Brewing Company. We had the Sunshine Shake and Mo Nighean Donn. I honestly can’t remember which was which at this point (come on, we had A LOT of beer by this stop) At this point, is was getting pretty late, and we were feeling pretty good! After a long day, we called a taxi and headed back to our Air BnB.

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After a bit of a slow start the next morning, we ate breakfast at the super cute and popular Glenwood (delish)! We headed north towards Corvallis to check out Alsea and Green Peak Falls. The trail head was a little challenging to find – we turned left off the road into a parking area where there were a lot of mountain bikers- this was not the trail head (as we were advised by a very kind cyclist). We returned to the road, and headed a little further until we found the day use area – success!! You head down a poorly marked trail to the left of the parking area (if you see picnic spots, head closer towards the water to find the trail). A short walk downhill leads you to Alsea Falls.  Though it is very pretty, I’ll be honest, after our day with Sahalie, Koosah, and Tamolitch, poor little Alsea Falls didn’t stand a chance! Apparently I didn’t even keep any pictures… Ooopsies!

Head back toward the parking lot, left over the small bridge, then left again down the trail. This trail is really interesting as it winds through forest, along the water, down an access road with some dry camping spots, and back through the forest…. you get the idea. You have to pay attention for the tiny brown hiker signs, and you’ll find your way! Green Peak Falls is a really neat, wide angle type falls, which I imagine is even more beautiful with more water flow – I love the trickle effect down the right hand side, with the moss covered “steps” along the edge.

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Green Peak Falls

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The ride home was pretty uneventful (I’m pretty sure I fell asleep again). This was an awesome trip, that I would definitely repeat, but I probably wouldn’t go back to Alsea and Green Peak. I will definitely be back to Sahalie, Koosah and Tamolitch, but I think I’ll hike to Tamolitch from that trail head instead.

Also, after putting in the copy of the spreadsheet, I just realized I was going to take Padre to The Cascade Raptor Center, and I TOTALLY FORGOT! He’s only been talking about going there for the last there years or so… #daughteroftheyear Guess we WILL have to go back!

Let me know what you think in the comments!

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