Walter and Sara Let the good times roll
We awoke to clouds and a few sprinkles on Monday July 21st. We broke camp and drove up Hwy 126 towards McKenzie Bridge. We had planned to camp at Paradise Campground but when we got there the sites that were big enough for the Airstream were taken. In addition, it’s a heavily treed campground so it seems pretty dark and dreary on a cloudy damp day.

So we kept on going. We drove through Olallie Campground which had a number of nice side pull-through sites but they were right next to the highway. So we kept on going. Then we saw a small lake with RV’s visible along the edge. Sure enough, the sign said Trail Bridge Campground so we turned in. Trail Bridge is a rather strange campground as Forest Service campgrounds go. There is a nice treed carry-in tent area and then along the edge of the lake there are gravel RV parking spots that are pretty ill defined. The only way you can really tell that there’s a spot is that there’s a picnic table and fire circle. Usually they give the lake-side spots to the tents so this was something different.

We found a pull-though spot with a peak-a-boo view of the lake and set up camp. There was a little bouquet of flowers waiting for us on the picnic table. No doubt left over from the weekend.

Flowers on picnic table Trail Bridge Campground OR

Once we were set up, we set out to figure out how to register. We only drove 1/2 a block when we found the registration kiosk there amongst the RV spots (also unusual). The Campground Host came up as we were reading the sign. This is a Forest Service managed campground and the fee is only $10 a night. So with our Golden Access cards we only paid $5 a night to camp next to a lovely lake. The host here has no power or sewer hook ups. The Forest Service provides him with a water hook up, a big propane tank and a porta-potty which they come and pump twice a week. They also pay him $500 a month to enforce the rules and keep the campground civilized. They didn’t have a host here for 3 or 4 years and it got pretty rowdy. It was quiet while we were there and he seems to think he’s whipped it into shape.

After lunch we motored up the paved single lane road (with nice turn outs) to Smith Lake, the reservoir that is just east of here. You get to drive up a switchback gravel road on the face of the dam to get to the lake itself. It’s owned and run by the Eugene Water and Electric Board. There’s a nice boat launch on the 2-mile long lake. At the other end of the lake there’s a boat-in only campground that fills every weekend.

Smith Lake OR

When we got back to the campground, we took the little walk down to water’s edge for a photo of our little lake.

Reservoir at Trail Bridge Campground

There was a lady out fishing in a small red pontoon boat and some kids playing at the boat launch with a rubber ducky kayak. Over on the left hand edge of the lake is Hwy 126. We can hear it from time to time when the wind blows right but mostly it’s fine.

There are ducks on the lake. And yes, the lake is really that lovely color. They know what people are about. One waddled through the campsite next to us at dinner time and then waddled over to our trailer door too.  

Ducks at Trail Bridge Campground

It rained pretty hard in the night but had stopped by the time we got up. We diddled around while we ran the generator and then drove out on Hwy 126 to the Sahalie Falls Viewpoint.

There’s a short trail out to the falls. When we first got there it was cloudy but by the time we left the sun was out and I got a very satisfactory shot of the falls.

Sahalie Falls OR

We followed the Waterfall Trail down along the McKenzie River towards Koosah Falls.

Koosah Falls sign

The McKenzie River is the most amazing color of aquamarine. Whatever minerals are dissolved in it are also the source of the lovely color of the lake we’re camping next to.

The river cascades along through one rapid after another.
McKenzie River cascades

And then over several un-named falls.

Un-named falls on McKenzie River Trail

At the bottom of one of the cascades I captured the color of the water in this amazing pool.

Pool on McKenzie River

The trail leads you past the top of Koosah Falls and then around along the edge of the canyon until there is a really nice overlook where you can see the entire falls.

Koosah Falls OR

Here’s a closer shot. It’s really a lovely waterfall.

Koosah Falls OR

Then in the evening the clouds arrived along with thunder and eventually rain and lightening.