This summer in Portland, Oregon has been unseasonably warm. I can’t remember the last time it rained and, while some of us complain about the heat, it will be only a few months before things cool off and we are missing the dog days of summer.
That being said, staying cool in this hot weather is a challenge. While there are many ways to cool off, my favorite is, and has always has been, swimming. But, I don’t always want to swim in a pool and cover my body with chlorine. I don’t always want to go to highly populated and crowded swimming spots such as Sellwood Park and Sauvie Island, I don’t want to drive down to Maupin for white water rafting, and I don’t always want to go to the beach, because who wants to swim in the ocean and become the next victim of Jaws (yeah, yeah, I know. I can’t remember any reported shark attacks off the Oregon Coast, but Shark Week was just on, and those teeth are fresh in my mind.)
So, I’ll let you in on a little secret—and don’t you dare tell all of your friends. The Clackamas River.
The Clackamas River is perfect. It has the right amount of rafting, the right degree of temperature, and the right amount of distance from Portland. Because of the number of secluded spots, it’s a place I like to go with just the Mrs.
So, as we loaded up the car with some picnic fixings and made our way down 26 to 205 and into Oregon City, I began to salivate with excitement.
We pulled off the freeway and drove towards Molalla before cutting left and hitting a windy road. I won’t tell you the exact location but, after about a mile, we came to a curve in the road and I knew it was time. I pulled the car over and we headed down to the cool refreshment of the Clackamas River.
It was like entering into a secret kingdom. The wooded side of the road seemed impenetrable. But, after closer inspection (and due to my years of experience) I simply pushed the branches and brambles aside and sure enough, the steps I remember were right there, leading to the empty, rock floored beach.
I helped my wife down and we reached a water hole. The river sped by with its array of rafters and kayakers, but this little watering hole, about six feet deep, was smooth and clear, and all ours. We swam and dunked and played and stayed cool as the sun beat down relentlessly. Later, we spread a blanket across a rock and we had a delightful picnic of cheese, crackers, and sandwiches. Trees provided a protective canopy, keeping the temperature cool enough to enjoy sitting, but warm enough that the watering hole was soon beckoning us again.
The Clackamas River is a spectacular place and has plenty of coves and hidden gems, as well as well populated beaches. If you’re looking for a place near Portland to keep cool during these hot summer months, the Clackamas River in Oregon City, Clackamas, and Milwaukie is an ideal location. I hope you find your own spot and make it your own.