Three Pools

• Three Pools is a scenic river flowing over ancient volcanic basalt rocks
• Features a series of fantastic emerald pools, waterfalls, cliffs, grottoes, and the rock pillar

Due to wildfires, the three pools area is closed

The amazing destination in the Opal Creek Wilderness, Three Pools Day Use Area along the Little North Fork of the Santiam River is known for its scenic beauty and as a place of summer water activities. Multiple pools with lucid emerald water, a small waterfall, impressive craggy pillar, scenic basalt cliffs, beautiful bedrocks, and pebbled beach - all of those make this fantastic location extremely popular. For all of the adventure seekers, in addition to swimming, there are a number of jumping opportunities.

Stairs from the parking area lead down to the beach and a large swimming hole. Families with kids prefer this place and therefore it can be more crowded.

To get to other pools nestled between rocks and cliffs further upstream is more challenging since it requires a tiny bit of rock climbing and rapid crossing. Some of those pools are deep and used for jumping.

An excellent riverside swimming location that is perfect for swimming can be found just before the point where the Little North Fork enters into the rocky canyon of the Three Rivers site. You can access this place by a short hike that begins on the left side of the parking area and runs along Three Pools. The trail offers great views down into the canyon and spectacular emerald water between rocks and cliffs.

Three Pools

Three Pools

Three Pools

Pillars at Three Pools

Due to the high popularity of Three Pools, large crowds are to be expected on the hot summer weekends. Though the area is large enough for everyone to get their own little space, the entry is limited to those visitors who have found a parking spot for their cars. When the 90-car parking area is full, you can't park your vehicle along the Forest Road within 1/2 mile of the Three Pools site.

Cautions: Cliff jumping and slippery rocks are associated with risks, please use caution and make safe decisions.

Three Pools

Three Pools

Three Pools

Camping and Lodging


Three Pools | Facts

Open: Year-round from sunrise to sunset
Managed by: US Forest Service

Amenities & Services: Vault toilets, garbage service, picnic sites, no water, no cell service
Activities: Swimming, cliff jumping, fishing, hiking

Distance from the parking: Short
Road access: Any passenger vehicle
Day-use fees: Yes or Interagency Senior/Access/Military Pass
Dogs: Must be on a leash
Restrictions: No glass bottles; No parking along FR 2207 within 1/2 mile

Elevation: 1,400 ft (427 m)

Three Pools Area is located:

  • 42 miles east of Salem
  • 88 miles southeast of Portland
  • 90 miles northeast of Eugene.

Swimming hole rating: 5 out of 5
Body of Water: River
Water quality: Transparent
Current: Moderate
Depth: Deep and shallow
Beach: River rocks, bedrock, and cliffs
Water T° (summer): Cool

Adventures Nearby

Directions to Three Pools

From Salem,

  • Follow east on State Highway 22 to Mehama
  • At milepost 23, turn left onto North Fork Road and drive 15.3 miles to the Forest Boundary
  • Continue 1.3 miles on gravel FS Road 2209 to the intersection of FS Road 2207
  • Turn right and follow another 0.8 miles to Three Pools Day Use Area.


GPS: N 44°50.378' W 122°18.678' | 44.8405, -122.314

1 Comment

  1. Took family to Three Pools 7/20/2020. We have been visiting there over the past 5 -7 years.

    This time was not a “wilderness experience”. A group of people had set up a canopy to keep out of the sun. Great idea. What was not great was that they played music that everyone on the creek had to listen to.

    The Bathroom facilities were dirty when we arrived, but after 2 hours there was fecal matter on the floors and all over the toilet.

    Is there anyway you can patrol this area so that families who want to enjoy nature can have adequate sanitary conditions and not be bombarded by other people’s taste in music?

    We understand that there have been issues with people breaking into the cash box that Was located at the head of the trail. So you aware of the problems.

    In talking with other families, the common decision is not to visit this area in the future.

    Do not know what can be done, but we are hoping you can resolve these situations

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