Sandy beach
Cliff jumping
Hike-in Required
Sensitive Habitat
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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.

Logistics + Planning

Parking Pass

Not Required


Deep pools.


Peak summer crowds. Covered in shade by afternoon.


Nearby Adventures

Southwest Washington/Mount St. Helens, Washington
Southwest Washington/Mount St. Helens, Washington

Nearby Lodging + Camping


Went out there to swim, but the weather had different ideas. still decided to check it out. lots of interesting little channels and lots of fun river walking. looks like places to jump in. Extremely slick rocks in places so be careful, but very pretty and a blast to explore. can't wait to go back for a swim. the parking across from the fish hatchery and right next to the river has signs saying discovery pass required to park.
We headed out to the river today...a location I'd been to years ago, but couldn't remember the specifics. I was glad to have some guidance from this posting. However, the directions were quite confusing, as it was unclear if we were supposed to turn left on Washougal River Rd. from 14 (as signs stated, and as I'd done in years past to get there), or if we were supposed to stay on 14 as semi-indicated in the directions. The part about Salmon Falls Rd. left us confused. As it turned out, we turned left at Washougal off 14, on Washougal River Rd, and stayed on that road until the Fish Hatchery. No turns needed (despite our couple of confused turn-arounds). I am curious if all of us missed something in the directions, if there's perhaps a better way to go than we went? Thanks! It IS beautiful, for sure. We ended up going past the Hatchery a few miles to Dougan Falls...also wonderful on a super hot day! Fun to start in the big pool, and meander down to the lower smaller pools later when the vibe of the big pool changes after work.
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