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Link River Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Great egret (Ardea alba) at the Klamath Falls (bobcat)
Along the Keno Canal, Link River Trail (bobcat)
Ripening Klamath plums (Prunus subcokdata) along the Link River Trail (bobcat)
Klamath Falls below the Link River Dam from the Link River Trail (bobcat)
Pelicans and cormorants on a log boom above the Link River Dam (bobcat)
The route of the Link River Trail in Klamath Falls (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Link River South Trailhead
  • Ending Point: Putnam's Point
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 3.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 85 feet
  • High Point: 4,160 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

The Link River connects Upper Klamath Lake with Ewauna Lake in Klamath Falls. It is, in fact, along the Link River where you find the actual “falls” which give Klamath Falls its name. These are really a series of low drops and rapids much compromised by the construction of PacifiCorp’s Link River Dam in 1921, which uses two 19th century canals, the Ankeny and the Keno, to operate two power stations. PacifiCorp was going to shut these operations down because of fish remediation costs, but now functions at a reduced capacity that will ensure a better future for two endangered species, the Lost River sucker and the shortnose sucker. The “trail” is really a gravel maintenance track between the Keno Canal and the river, with river access at several points. Dense thickets of Klamath plums and other deciduous trees line the river bank and serve as refuges for a variety of spring and fall migrants. Klamath Falls is, of course, known for its summer pelican flocks, and, at that time of year, you’ll see plenty of these as well as cormorants, grebes, gulls, terns, herons, egrets, geese, and ducks.

Hike along the fence of a power substation, and pass around a gate. For this entire hike, you’re on PacifiCorp property. Cross over an aqueduct tumbling from the Keno Canal just above. The dense riverside vegetation is composed of willows, Klamath plums, cranapples, cottonwoods, and other deciduous trees. A short spur leads to the river bank from which you can see across riffles in the Link River to the green lawns of tidy homes on the opposite bank. Two more river access points descend on stairs as the trail rises. You’ll see the East Side Powerhouse, one of the two power plants that operate from the Link River Dam, across the way. The path rises to run along the Keno Canal, which buzzes with dragonflies; you may also be lucky enough to spot a western pond turtle sunning itself. Slopes above you to the left are part of a complex of mountain bike/walking trails on Moore Mountain, but they cannot be accessed from the canal trail.

Across the river, the big penstock which services the power plant from the dam can be seen. The river itself braids around several islands. Then you’ll arrive at a spur that drops down to the “falls.” You can look upstream to the low drops that constitute part of the Klamath Falls. The Link River Dam with its fish ladder is visible above the falls. Great egrets stand sentinel over the plunges, and if the plums are ripe (early September), take your pick! Blackberries are also abundant in the vicinity. Cross a footbridge over the canal, and pass above the dam. A series of rock shelves above the dam, part of the original rapids, hosts flocks of pelicans, herons, and other water birds when water levels are low. A log boom is also a favorite sunning spot for cormorants and pelicans.

Reach the Link River North Trailhead, and cross Lakeshore Drive to the small park at Putnam's Point. Here there are restrooms and picnic tables and views up Upper Klamath Lake from a willow-lined peninsula. A plaque memorializes Eulalona, an Indian village that was situated on both sides of the Link River where the Fremont Bridge now stands.

Return the way you came. Below the Link River South Trailhead is the Favell Museum, which displays Native American artifacts, including some that are 12,000 years old, and modern Western art. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.



Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Eastern Oregon by William L. Sullivan
  • Oregon’s Southern Cascades: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • The Dog Lover’s Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan

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Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.