Koosah Falls is the second of the three falls the McKenzie River makes in the first few miles from its headwaters in Clear Lake. Koosah is a Chinook word interpreted as meaning either “sky” or “shining,” and both apply when the falls are considered against Sahalie Falls farther upstream. Where Sahalie Falls rumbles away in a tight portion of the valley, hemmed in by basalt and old-growth, Koosah Falls works in a much more expansive area that is open to the sky and sun. Koosah is a block falls, meaning it falls as one stream (Sahalie is segmented into two or three streams), and at 64 feet, Koosah comes in a close second to Sahalie in terms of height. Both are gorgeous in their own way, of course; Sahalie seems enormous in its closed-in environment, and Koosah feels somewhat more appropriately scaled to its broader landscape.
Hike the short trail between Koosah Falls and Sahalie Falls to appreciate the comparisons for yourself. The trail is less than a mile and sticks to the banks of one of the wildest sections of this incredible river. It winds through beautiful old-growth Douglas fir, hemlock, cedar, and the lush understory of mosses and ferns. The hike is excellent year-round, as are all the walks on the McKenzie River trail. Like Sahalie Falls, the facilities at Koosah Falls are universally accessible and offer vault toilets and interpretive panels describing the geology of the area.