With the heat spell upon us, it is comforting to know we are surrounded by so many places where water is easily accessible in nature. Whether you just want to wade in a shallow stream, or plunge into a deep pool, you have many choices for cooling off outdoors. The big challenge is – with all the choices – deciding where to go.
The biggest natural water feature in the area is, of course, the Columbia River, and the options are unlimited if you have a boat. Some areas are off-limits due to access or strong currents. But if you want to lie on a beach and wade in relatively calm water, Captain William Clark Park is a good start. Two reservable picnic areas are available for up to 50 people each. Otherwise, free picnic tables are available throughout the area on a first-come basis.
Lacamas Lake and Round Lake are extremely popular during hot weather. Each offers hiking trails around swimming areas accessible from the shore. Sweetwater SUP is a local company that currently offers kayak and paddle board rentals on Lacamas Lake. The best part of paddle boarding on a hot day is you don’t really mind falling in! If you’re willing to take a short hike on the Lacamas Creek Trail, “The Potholes” are deep pools formed by waterfalls on Lacamas Creek.
The Washougal River is another swimmable body, depending on where you jump in. Starting up at Dougan Falls, you can find kayaking and swimming spots if you get there early – it is a popular site on a hot day. Heading south, there are a number of public areas along the river where swimming is allowed. Be careful of rapids and swift currents – even if the air is hot, the water can still be cold and induce hypothermia. But as the summer progresses, the water starts to heat up, and the risk subsides.
Of course, the ideal place to go swimming on a hot day is your own private waterfront retreat. So even when the temperatures reach the upper 90s, we are grateful that we live in an area with “water, water everywhere”!