Your Last Summer Plunge – Where to Swim in Portland and Seattle

Few things are gentler on your joints and better for your entire body than swimming. Whether you’re doing the breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly, freestyle or simply treading water, you’re guaranteed to work your arms, back, abs and legs in one fell swoop. In fact, swim some serious laps and you can burn more than 600 calories an hour.

Swimming is an activity you can enjoy year-round. However, the clock is ticking on the Pacific Northwest’s summer sunshine. If you’re looking to work on your stroke, while still taking advantage of the outdoors, here are a few fun places you can go to make a splash before summer’s end.

Last Summer Swim


1. For an Outdoor Adventure
For an end of summer adventure, head 30 miles southwest of the city to Henry Hagg Lake (off Oregon 47). Not only is its water perfect for swimming, but the lake also features 15 miles of surrounding hiking, biking and running trails. Make a day of it and enjoy the picnic areas and bird-watching spots as well.

2. Training for a Fall Race
If you’re training for a triathlon, be sure to visit Vancouver Lake in Washington, which is about 25 minutes northwest of Portland off I-5. On a clear day, you can enjoy good views of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood. Several local triathlon clubs frequent the spot, and its roped-off swim area, for their open-water swim sessions. Following your swim, the neighboring park is great for squeezing in a short run. There is often windsurfing, kayaking, rowing or canoeing happening on the water as well.

3. Additional Ideas
For $5 you can download the new Oregon’s Swimming Holes App, which gives you information and directions to more than 200 local swimming spots. You can also visit Travel Oregon or Portland Parks & Recreation for additional options.


1. Close to the City
If you want to stay in the city, opt for a swim at Green Lake, which features diving boards, life guards and easy-to-access beaches. There is a 2.8-mile paved path around the lake as well, so you can get in a pre- or post-swim ride or run.

2. In Search of a View
For better views and bigger beaches, head to Lake Washington and practice your freestyle at Seward Park or Magnuson Park beach. You’ll also discover miles of hiking, biking and walking trails, as well as several excellent bird-watching areas.

3. Additional Resources
Find more prime swim spots (both in and out of town) at Experience Washington or Seattle Parks and Recreation.


Lindsey Emery

Lindsey Emery is a Portland-based health and fitness writer. Prior to her move to the Pacific Northwest, Lindsey was the senior fitness editor at Fitness magazine. A graduate of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Lindsey spends most of her downtime running, biking, hiking and baking. She lives in southeast PDX with her husband, Eddy, and their cat, Reggie. You can find her online at <a title="" href="" target="_blank"></a> or on twitter at <a title="@FITNESSlindsey" href="" target="_blank"> @FITNESSlindsey</a>.