The Mount Pisgah trails offer beautiful views, hikes and hidden swimming areas. The trails are located at the Mount Pisgah Arboretum in Lane County, Ore. May 6, 2019. (Madi Mather/Emerald)

Eugene is getting hot this week. Really hot. Temperatures are rising into the high 80s Thursday through Sunday and focusing on school is going to be harder than ever. 

So, give into your temptation to procrastinate: hangout at one of the many great natural swimming holes near Eugene. 

Here are the best spots close to the University of Oregon to cool off in nature.

Mount Pisgah 

The Coast Fork Willamette River at Mount Pisgah has some great swimming holes and it’s only a ten minute drive from UO. You can easily go take a dip for a study break on a hot afternoon.

The main swimming spot has an expansive pebble beach. This section of the river is deep and wide, so you can do some serious swimming.

To find the beach, follow the Riverbank Trail from the main parking lot for around a quarter mile, veering right when the trail forks. The beach is shortly after the fork, marked with a green sign that warns about pollution and deep water. The sign is outdated, so ignore it, and enjoy your swim. 


The Mount Pisgah trails offer beautiful views, hikes and hidden swimming areas. The trails are located at the Mount Pisgah Arboretum in Lane County, Ore. May 6, 2019. (Madi Mather/Emerald)

This is a great swimming hole, but it’s crowded on hot days. If you want more solitude, you can find other spots all along the river at Pisgah.

Brice Creek

Brice Creek weaves through old-growth forest and drops over boulders in the Umpqua National Forest east of Cottage Grove. Its waters are crystalline and stay shockingly cold even on the hottest days. The creek is lined with many rocky ledges that are perfect platforms for jumping into the water below. 

The creek is around 50 minutes by car from UO and is a good option for a weekend day trip. 

One great spot for cliff jumping is Brice Creek Falls, where water drops into a deep, emerald-green pool. There are rocky platforms around the pool that you can dive off, as well as a 25-foot cliff. You can also just relax and sunbathe on the rock surfaces next to the water.

To reach the pool, drive to Cedar Creek Campground. From the parking lot, cross the bridge over the creek, then take a right to follow the trail upstream. The swimming hole is .3 miles from the lot. There will be a path leading down to the pool directly after you cross a bridge over a small canyon.

Dorena Lake

Dorena lake is a reservoir nestled into the wooded hills east of Cottage Grove. It has a couple of great beaches and plenty of spots for sunbathing on its shores. The reservoir is only 30 minutes from UO, so it’s a great option for a lazy lake day.

Baker Bay is the most popular area on the lake. It includes grassy lawns with picnic tables and boat rentals. It’s located on the south side of the lake on Shoreview Drive. 

Harms Park is another beach on Dorena, which is always much less crowded than Baker Bay. Its beach is a mix of rock and grass, and there are picnic tables there too. Harms Park is on the north shore of the lake on Row River Road.

Triangle Lake Rock Slides

Lake Creek Falls is a full-blown natural water park. Here, you can dive off cliffs or launch off the end of rope swings. You can also accelerate down a 100-foot rock water slide on an inner tube, inflatable alligator or even your back or stomach if you don’t mind a couple bumps and scratches.

The falls are around 50 minutes from UO by car, and you can easily go for a half-day on a sunny weekend. To find the spot, drive out on Highway 36 and pull into a parking lot half a mile past Triangle Lake.

These swimming holes are sure to help you breeze through the rest of spring term, so go take a dip soon.

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