Skip to main content

Adventures in McKenzie River Post-Lockdown

Two people standing next to colorful autumn leaves next to Clear Lake with pine trees in the background

There’s nothing worse than being stuck inside, watching spring emerge after a long winter. Here at Horse Creek, we feel your pain! That’s why we are giving you some ideas to plan an action-packed vacation, once this is all over. 

Late summer and fall in the McKenzie River Valley are magical times of the year. The greenery is in full bloom, the river is at the perfect level for rafting, the weather is ideal for hiking or biking the McKenzie River Trail, and the waterfalls and lakes offer perfect opportunities for refreshing dips. Nature and beauty come together in perfect harmony making this a dream vacation spot.

After storing up months of energy, we’re sure you’re itching to burn it off. The McKenzie River Valley, with its abundance of outdoor activities, is the perfect place to do so. At Horse Creek Lodge & Outfitters, not only do we provide picturesque cabins and campsites, we also offer a range of thrilling activities to keep you entertained throughout your visit. Here are our suggestions for the ultimate outdoor adventure.

The McKenzie River Trail

Whether you are a mountain biker ready to shred or you’re looking to lose yourself in idyllic mountain scenery, the McKenzie River Trail has it all. Over 20 miles long, it’s been named the number one mountain biking trail in the U.S. and one of the country’s best running trails too. The deep greens of the Douglas fir in contrast with the volcanic basalt rock and the turquoise waters of the area’s numerous pools and waterfalls, provide the perfect backdrop for an exhilarating hike in nature. The trailhead is just one mile from Horse Creek Lodge, making it a convenient day excursion. We offer pre and post-ride mountain bike shuttles to the McKenzie River Trail. Looking for more of a challenge? Take our shuttles to the O’Leary Loop and Olallie trails. We rent mountain bikes for both adults and children so you can take the whole family along!

River Rafting

The class II and III rapids of the McKenzie River make it a great place to enjoy the thrill of rafting without risking your safety. In late summer and fall, the cool river waters make rafting a tempting choice. At Horse Creek, we offer full-day and half-day guided trips that are great for both families and beginners. The floats take you on a journey down the McKenzie River. You’ll pass water flowing from ancient lava beds and gorgeous foliage along the banks of the river. The twists and turns are guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping and keep all ages entertained. To tempt you even further, guests staying at the lodge get a discount!

Stand Up Paddleboarding

As the home of some of Oregon’s most unspoiled lakes and reservoirs, the McKenzie River Valley is a great spot to learn or perfect your stand up paddleboarding skills. Explore crystal clear bodies of water like Blue River Reservoir, Cougar Reservoir, and the aptly named Clear Lake, on our doorstep, it’s the perfect opportunity to pick up a board and head out for a paddle. We have both half-day and full-day rentals on our inflatable boards, which are easily transportable. We’ll also provide you with a dry bag, wetsuit and booties, and a pump to make sure you’re prepared for every situation. 

Hiking Trails

With around 1,700 miles of trails in the Willamette National Forest, the area has a lot to offer! The 3-mile Waterfall Loop Trail leading to Sahalie and Koosah Falls is a good place for those looking to stretch their legs but not burn themselves out. For the hiking enthusiasts wanting more of a challenge, you can extend the trail by continuing on to Tamolitch Pool (aka Blue Pool). This extension adds 5-miles one way and 10 if you opt for the loop. Can’t get enough waterfalls? Take the scenic drive up the Old McKenzie Highway and check out Proxy Falls, stunning scenery that will please the whole family without wearing you out. Looking for the path less traveled? Check out the Roaring Ridge Trail, close to Cougar Reservoir which crosses the Roaring River. You can always take a dip in the river or falls to cool off after a picnic lunch. 

There’s not much exploring do be done at the moment but that shouldn’t stop you from daydreaming. We hope our suggestions have got your tongues wagging and sparked your interest. When you finally have a taste of freedom, come and visit the McKenzie River Valley and take your pick from the endless list of fun activities we offer.