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Sahalie and Koosah Falls

Photo courtesy of Jonny Oliver

Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls are two of Central Oregon’s most celebrated waterfalls, with picturesque cascades surrounded by thick forests—and neither requires much effort to view.

The parking area sits along Highway 126 and is part of the broader McKenzie Pass—Santiam Pass Scenic Byway.

From there, it’s just a few short steps to a shaded viewpoint of Sahalie Falls, which tumbles about 100 feet over lava rock and into the strikingly green McKenzie River below. Koosah Falls, meanwhile sits about 0.4 miles south along the broader Waterfalls Loop Trail—with gradual elevation loss along the way; there, from an unencumbered viewpoint just off the main trail, the 65-foot waterfall tumbles over a rocky shelf. The names of the waterfalls are Chinook Jargon words; roughly translated, Sahalie means “Heaven” and Koosah means “Sky”.

Hikers can continue south and cross the McKenzie River at Carmen Reservoir for a 2.5-mile loop that connects to the McKenzie River Trail and includes roughly 435 feet of elevation gain. Doing so takes hikers through an old-growth forests and offers alternate views of the powerful waterfalls.

Most visitors arrive in summer, but aim for a visit between March and May to see the falls at their thundering peak—or in October to enjoy colorful fall foliage throughout the forest. If visiting in summer, try to arrive by 9 a.m. for a bit more solitude.

Open Season

Year-round, but trails may be snowy or icy Nov.-April

Dog Friendly and/or Leash Rules

Leashed dogs are permitted.

Best time to visit

April-Oct.

Don’t Miss

The trails around Sahalie and Koosah Falls get busy at the height of summer; plan a spring outing in April or May to see the waterfalls at their roaring peak—or an October hike to enjoy dazzling fall foliage.

Fees or Pass Needed

None

Restrictions

Motorized vehicles and stock are not permitted on the trail.

Activities

Hiking

Viewpoint

Parking

Parking areas are available at both waterfalls; the larger of the two can be found at Sahalie Falls. If the lots are full, do not park along Highway 126. Also note that the parking areas are not maintained in winter—and may be snowy or icy.

Directions

From Sisters, the drive to the Sahalie Falls parking area and trailhead takes about 40 minutes via westbound Highway 20 and southbound Highway 126.

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