Hiking for Waterfalls on Peter Skene Ogden Trail

McKay Campground

Moderate hike (8 miles roundtrip), but you can hike as far as you'd like. More than a handful of beautiful waterfalls. Close proximity to Paulina Falls and Paulina Lake. Camping available. Views of Paulina Peak.

Before I go into the detail of this specific hike, I'd like to mention there are several ways to explore this trail, all which have different entry points and lead to different areas. I am highlighting a path that passes a handful of waterfalls and, if you choose, you can continue to further destinations, such as Paulina Lake.

With that said, a great starting point for this trail, in my opinion, is the McKay Campground site. 21 miles south of Bend on the 97, turn left on the Paulina Lake Road and follow that for 3.2 miles, turn left onto a dirt road labeled McKay Crossing campground, and after 2.3 miles, you'll reach the campground. While entering the campground, you'll come to a metal bridge and right before it, you'll see a sign signifying a waterfall 500 feet to your left. That is McKay Falls, and it's a quick and easy spot to check out before starting the trail. To start the actual hike, go across the bridge you saw as you entered and you will see a sign for the start of the Peter Skene Ogden trail to your right.

The beginning of the trail takes you through the some burnt woods with Paulina Creek on your right. It isn't until about 30 minutes into the hike where the creek starts having more rapids that the waterfalls start appearing. The trail keeps close to the creek and waterfalls for the majority of the trail, with paths leading up close to several falls, but a couple require some scrambling down, or a quick jaunt to a cliff to view the falls.

There are several areas with rock waterslides that are frequented in summer months, and pools for swimming beneath waterfalls. After 4 miles, you'll come to a waterfall with a wooden bridge a hundred feet behind it. This is where I turned back. At this point, it's only 3 miles further until Paulina Lake, and even closer until you hit Paulina Falls, which is a popular tourist attraction and pretty waterfall.

This trail is best used during spring and summer months when snow is minimal. The trail is also open to mountain bikers and horses, so pay attention to your surroundings as you hike.

Pack List

  • Hiking shoes
  • Camera
  • Swim trunks (If you plan to swim in the summertime)
  • Snacks
  • Water
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Activities Chillin, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Features
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Such a great trail!

This is one of my favorite mountain biking routes! It's pretty easy but it's a gradual grade and there's always great views. It's uphill only but you can easily downhill the main road because there's not much traffic. I've hiked it too and the natural water slide is super fun and refreshing!

Great family hike

We went with four adults, four young kids (4-7 years old), and two dogs (off-leash) and had a fantastic time. The hike incline was very shallow and the kids had no trouble at all. The falls were lovely. The dogs got wet and were happy.


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