When the late summer arrives and temperatures rise, it helps to have a favorite refuge from the heat. Portland area residents flock to the beaches of Sauvie Island, the Sandy River, the Clackamas River, or perhaps even the Wilson River. For those on the Washington side the Columbia River, the Washougal River is a close resource and one of the best swimming hole rivers in the Pacific Northwest. Often overlooked by Oregonians, the entire length of the Washougal River is sprinkled with deep pools, and sun-kissed rocky outcroppings.
For those willing to drive the full length of Washougal River Road, the reward is huge. Nestled at the end of this winding, paved river road is Dougan Falls, arguably one of the premiere swimming holes in the state. Whether wading in the giant pool at the bottom of this 19 foot cascade, setting up a lawn chair in the shallow waters above the falls, or laying out a beach towel on the sandy beach below the bridge, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better mid-summer day retreat. And, with Dougan Creek Campground just 100 yards away from the falls, visitors can lounge along the banks of the river for more than just a day.
The area is quite well known, so be prepared to encounter other locals. Come mid-week to avoid peak crowds.