McKenzie - 1. Clear Lake to Carmen Reservoir

McKenzie, Oregon, US


1. Clear Lake to Carmen Reservoir

Usual Difficulty V (for normal flows)

Sahalie Falls

Sahalie Falls
Photo taken 11/16/13

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-14158500 250 - 900 cfs V 01h07m 421 cfs (running)

River Description


This run has consistent flow and can be paddled all year as a "novel alternative to hiking the trail",  and in the Winter through early Summer kayakers who like big waterfalls come to run 80' Sahalie Falls and 70' Koosah Falls. 

Coming out of Clear Lake, fast paced III+ continues for awhile, watch for wood.  When the river starts ledging up, be on the look out for a 5-10' pourover.  Just below this pourover is the lead in to Sahalie Falls, which can be portaged right or left along trails.

Sahalie was first run by Shannon Carroll in 1998 at which time it was the world waterfall record. Her run is featured as the concluding sequence in the video "Over the Edge" by Falling Down Productions.  There is a tough lead in, so most boaters who run the falls skip it and put in right at the lip.  The runout to the falls is serious class V, so holding onto the paddle is a must.  A high percentage of boaters running Sahalie beach themselves on the left bank after running the drop to avoid the runout rapid.

Below the runout to Sahalie (an easy portage), more class III-IV awaits.  It is worth walking down the trail to scout your next eddy as at healthy flows it wouldn't be too hard to get swept into the next drop, a 20 footer with an ancient log jam at the base. 

From this 20 foot drop, walk down to scout/portage Koosah Falls on the left.  Koosah Falls is about 70' tall, with a funky ledge just above the lip. It was the junior world record waterfall for some time (Pat Keller), the portage is on the left where a steep trail drops off from the main trail down to the base.  A small log pile downstream collects gear seperated from owners by the falls, and a short section of gorged class III leads down to the take out at Carmen Reservoir.


For additional information see the

2003 perspective of the McKenzie headwaters at

And ten years later the

2013 perspective of the Mckenzie headwaters at Into the Outside.



StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-04-12 16:52:12

Rapid Descriptions

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User Comments

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January 11 2011 (2931 days ago)
Robert MillerDetails
Here is a video of Koosah Falls.