Dougan Falls Swimming Hole is located in Washougal, Washington, Google reports the trip takes 1 hour and six minutes from Popina Swimwear Portland. Interestingly, the mileage is only about 35 miles, but the drive did take just about that amount of time.
I have lived in Portland twelve years now and I guess I don’t get out as much as I thought because I really had no idea where Washougal was before Pam, Cassis (our dog) and I went to visit Dougan. Turns out Washougal is just past Camas accessed via Highway 14 which hugs the Columbia in Washington State. Google recommends two routes one through Washougal (via Washougal River Road), and one route which stays on Highway 14 longer then heads north. We did a loop taking highway 14 there and taking Washougal River Road home. Next time we plan to take Washougal River Road, we must have passed 4-5 turnouts on the way back to Washougal after visiting Dougan where people were swimming. As Pam pointed out Washougal River Road just might be the Portland Metro’s closest equivalent to the Road to Hana in Maui, where you drive along a windy road hitting awesome swimming hole after awesome swimming hole until you hit the grand mamma of all swimming holes, Seven Sacred Pools. Anyway I digress.
Approaching Dougan Falls
Dougan Falls has a lot going for it very scenic, not too far a drive from Popina in Northeast Portland. Dougan Falls has a waterfall feature which earns this swimming hole points on the style scale. The falls are over 100 feet wide, crashing sideways into a deep narrow hole. There are opportunities to swim in the main pool shown above, below the bridge shown below, or you can even swim right beside the waterfalls where they crash into a narrow pool which is pretty exhilarating, the sound of the waterfalls is engulfing. If you like a swimming hole where you can jump in off rocks, Dougan has some higher rocks by the waterfalls where I saw people jumping in.
Downstream from the swimming hole (under the bridge)
The one draw back is that the water is COLD. I am no lightweight when it comes to sucking it up to swim, this was easily the coldest water I swam in this summer and the temperature was 93 degrees when we went yesterday. That said, I must say kudos to Pam for taking a quick dip because that was pretty tough of her and I would have been a tad disappointed if it was only me and the dog that got in. Also bear in mind that despite the fact that it was very cold, there were a lot of other people swimming. So if you love to swim you will get over it, this spot is just too inviting.
I will go back to Dougan for sure, next time I am going to reserve it for a 100+ degree day, I am going to start my trip from Portland around 11am and I will hit at least one or two other falls on Dougan Falls Road before hitting Dougan Falls which according to the Waterfalls of the Northwest,”….is the final major waterfall along the Washougal River (not counting 8-foot tall Salmon Falls). Picnic tables and pit toilets are provided in the day use area on the far side of the bridge. If you are lucky, and come at the right time of the year, you may see kayakers running the falls.” - that would be something to see. I provided a list of close by waterfalls as well below provided by Waterfalls of the Northwest.
The highlight of the day was two Popina Swimsuit sightings. One gal was wearing a Red Frieda Halter Top and One other gal was wearing an Espresso Retro Sadie!
Finally a short video taken from under the bridge which frames in this 8 out of 10 swimming hole, one points taken off due to the cold temperature (this would hopefully be a 9 on a 100+ degree day). View all my Dougan Falls Swimming Photos.
OTHER NEARBY WATERFALLS