Easily one of the most popular swimming holes in the Willamette Foothills, Wildwood Falls doesn’t disappoint. Here the Row River (not Brice Creek, as is commonly assumed) plunges over two drops totaling approximately 20 feet before recollecting itself in an enormous, deep pool. A crescent of sheer cliff faces loom above the pool, providing many an intrepid leaper with more than enough airtime before splashing into the refreshing water below. The bold jump from the very highest levels, while several smaller ledges are great alternatives for the more restrained.
The swim is deep and absolutely delicious, though currents near the falls themselves can be dangerously strong. In fact, Wildwood has been the location of several fatalities and debilitating injuries. Swimmers underestimating the currents, jumpers landing in insufficiently deep water, divers injuring their backs or necks…you name it, it happens here almost every year. Before you commit to any gravity-facilitated thrills here, please take the time to inspect the surroundings, assess your fitness and skill levels, and make smart choices.
Anyone who has spent the day here at Wildwood knows that getting in is the easy part. Getting back out takes ingenuity and a little climbing. The cliffs surrounding the pool must be scaled for another opportunity to jump; generally the climbing isn’t difficult, but it does take some time. Alternately, visitors may find a rope tied to a tree a little downstream from the main pool where there is more of a riverbank. Veterans to Wildwood will also be familiar with the crowds on weekends. The environment here can take on more of a party atmosphere, unfortunately, and this can completely transform the experience. Music, drinking, and litter aren’t uncommon, and it is really only a matter of time before such use results in access limitations. Be strategic with your visits and aim for weekdays and earlier times. Collecting a little extra litter goes a long way toward keeping this place feeling natural.
Swimming holes and cliff jumping can be extremely dangerous and unpredictable outdoor activities that pose significant risks regarding personal safety. Changing water levels, unseen rocks, and river bottoms that have shifted with currents and seasonal weather can turn a well-known jumping area into a serious hazard. Prior to engaging in these activities, extensively scout the current conditions, and understand the risks involved with serious injury and the logistical challenges of evacuation from the water so you can make safe decisions.