What’s to Love: By far the best waterfall swimming I’ve had in Oregon period. It’s off the beaten path a bit, but it’s a lovely drive through Oregon farm country and only about an hour from downtown Portland. It’s the type of place you want to keep a secret, but since it was already published in Portland Monthly (and other publications), I thought I’d join the club.
Sure Wahclella Falls is pretty, but the water is freezing and the sunlight hours are limited. The nice thing about Butte Creek is that you’ll get plenty of sunshine and shade, if you want it. There is a fallen tree in the swimming hole area, which provides a perfect launching point for a dip in the plunge pool. The waterfall itself is pretty mellow, and you can swim or raft right under it without much of a problem. Of course, during spring melt, it’s probably a different story.
Probably the best thing about Butte Creek is that from the parking lot, it’s just a short 5-10 minute walk to the falls. You’ll be swimming in no time! The water temperature is cold, but it wasn’t “numbing cold.” The water seemed clean, and although there were other people, there was plenty of room for everyone.
Caveats: This is a place you’ll want to enjoy probably during the week. The swimming area is not that big. If it were overcrowded, it wouldn’t be near as fun.
Distance from Portland: It’s between 55 – 60 miles from Portland.
Recommended Ages: A great spot for young kids, early swimmers with life jackets or flotation devices would also be okay. Older kids will have a great time as well. I would bring along some of friends, which would enhance the fun.
Parental Stress Factor: Not too bad for a swimming area. It was all pretty mellow, and it’s easy to keep an eye on your kids.
Physical Difficulty: Not handicap accessible. The hike is on a well maintained access trail that most people would consider an easy 5-10 minute hike.
Family Fun Factor: More of a relaxing spot to cool off on a hot summer afternoon. Kids can also explore along the stream.
Insider Info: If you want to up the fun, there is a nearby campground “Butte Creek Campground” that features just three sites. The “Outdoor Project” put together a nice review of the campground. The campground has grills and picnic tables.
Other Posts of Interest...
Lumberyard Indoor Bike Park on May 8th, 2012
Safari Sam's Jungle of Fun on May 3rd, 2009
Windells - Off Season Access on December 12th, 2011