Oregon’s Sahalie Falls is a jewel that manages to stand out in a state filled with gorgeous waterfalls. Thousands of years ago, the lava flow that dammed the nearby Clear Lake made its way into the McKenzie River and created these breathtaking 100-foot high falls, as well as the neighboring Koosah Falls.
The names of the falls come from the Chinook language. The word sahalie roughly translates to “heaven” and koosah translates to “sky.” For thousands of years, the Kalapuya, Molalla, Sahaptain, and Chinook peoples traveled and traded in these lands.
It doesn’t take a backbreaking hike to get to these falls. A staircase right off the parking lot leads to two separate viewing platforms: a lower deck with a straight-on view of the falls and a higher deck next to where the river tumbles over the edge. It’s a unique, intimate perspective that you don’t often get at a waterfall of this size.
As the river powers over the edge of the falls, crashing into pools below, the constant, churning mist keeps the surrounding growth green for much of the year. The towering trees that line the river and falls trap the roar of the rushing water, creating a majestic growl as the falls come into view. The result is a spot that feels like it’s from another world, another time.
If you’re looking for more of nature’s beauty, you’re in luck. Sahalie Falls sits along the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail, a 26.4-mile trail that has a number of astounding sites. An easy, family-friendly 2.6-mile loop to the south takes you down to Koosah Falls before bringing you back along the McKenzie River. And if you head a mile to the north along the trail, you’ll reach the southern tip of the stunning Clear Lake.
Know Before You Go
While the trail is open year-round, traveling by car to the falls during winter can be risky as neither the mountain road to the falls or the parking lot are maintained for snow and ice.