When summer temperatures rise and you’re short on time, an impromptu half-day or day trip to the Washougal River is an excellent idea. An undammed tributary of the Columbia River, it is home to Chinook, chum and coho salmon, steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout. It's popular among rafters, swimming hole seekers, sunbathers, and anglers alike. The name Washougal is derived from “wasiixwal” or “wasuxal,” which are Cascade Chinook words meaning “rushing water.” And although there is plenty of rushing water, there are also several calm areas with deep pools that are perfect for a swimming, a picnic on the rocks, and relief from the city.
The stretch of river between mile markers 15 and 16 is a perfect example of such a place. Plant your camp chair in a shallow section, drift or swim for a couple minutes downstream, jump in from an adjacent rock ledge, or just enjoy the scenery. The cool water, fresh air, and forested surroundings are reason enough to make the trip.
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.