Carmen Diversion Reservoir is one of three reservoirs that Eugene Water and Electric Board uses to borrow power from the mighty McKenzie. The ‘diversion’ in the title refers to the primary purpose of this reservoir, to reroute some of the McKenzie’s flow underground to Smith Reservoir. From there water is routed through Carmen Power Plant, and then it is routed back underground to another reservoir and power plant at Trail Bridge before it is finally directed back to the main McKenzie flow.
Carmen is the uppermost reservoir, and it catches the McKenzie after its first few turbulent miles from Clear Lake. As such, it is clear, cold water that is usually enjoyed by fishermen looking for a few of the stocked rainbow trout. Reservoir levels fluctuate depending on energy needs, but even when the levels are high Carmen remains a modest spot. Ice Cap Campground is located just above the reservoir, and excellent hikes lead upstream to Sahalie and Koosah Falls or downstream to Tamolich Pool.
Because of the function of the reservoir, however, Carmen is also where the McKenzie disappears. It can be a remarkable juxtaposition if you’ve hiked down from the loud majesty of Sahalie and Koosah and the ensuing whitewater; the water silently pools into Carmen and then, suddenly, it vanishes into the EWEB network.