Looking for a great day trip to let the kids splash around a little, or maybe catch some rays? Linn County, in the heart of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, has plenty of options for you.
The South Santiam River has numerous spots that are great for swimming, but be sure you aren’t on someone’s private property when you jump out of the car. The good news is there are a number of great parks that usually have plenty of free space for you and the family.
Cascadia State Park and River Bend County Park, both located east of Sweet Home, and Waterloo County Park, just east of Lebanon (see our Camping page), all offer great swimming opportunities on the South Santiam. All have beaches and the river is fairly shallow and slow-moving during the warm months, which makes for some great swimming.
On Foster Lake, Lewis Creek Park has a developed swimming beach covered with pea gravel, along with picnic tables, bathroom facilities, hiking trails and a large grassy area, which makes for a great day trip. Another good location for swimming is just south of the dam on Foster Dam Road, where there are also bathroom and picnic facilities. Access to the lake is fairly easy in many spots, so take your pick. Sunnyside Park, on the east end of the lake, has full facilities and swimming access as well.
The Calapooia River has historically been a favorite for swimming. Like the South Santiam, you need to know where you are, but there are several good spots for the public to get to the water. McKercher Park, on Highway 228 between Brownsville and Crawfordsville, is a great spot for swimming, and the McClun Wayside on Upper Calapooia Road, south of Holley, is another good spot. There are numerous swimming holes along the upper Calapooia, particularly after the road turns to gravel.
Several Albany parks offer access to both the Willamette River and lower Calapooia, which enters the Willamette River at Monteith River Park, where there is plenty of beach area. Takena Landing, Bryant and Bowman Parks also offer access to the Willamette. Upstream, Harrisburg Park, McCartney Park and Peoria Park, spaced along the east bank between Harrisburg and Albany, also offer good river access.
Like Foster Lake, Green Peter Reservoir offers many opportunities for swimming. Access to the lake is best around the Rocky Top Bridge and at Whitcomb County Park.
Quartzville Creek, above Green Peter, offers many places with easy access to the water, which is generally deep enough for recreational swimming.
The North Santiam River, like the South Santiam, has many great access points for swimmers. The Little Santiam Recreation Area, along North Fork Road, offers many swimming holes. Farther down the river, John Neal County Park offers restrooms, picnic tables and easy access to the water.
In the mountains, all the U.S. Forest Service campgrounds mentioned on our Camping page, except Lost Prairie, have excellent swimming opportunities.
In case you’re wondering, Clear Lake is not a good swimming area unless you find an average water temperature of 43 degrees attractive.
Located on Foster Lake in Oregon, Water Polo team from all over the country come together for a 3 days tournament in the lake. This is the most fun and unique Water Polo experience of the year. Sign up now for the 2014 Open Water Tournament!