Sunday was a beautiful warm and sunny summer day. I believe it reached 98 degrees Fahrenheit / 36.6 Celsius. Earlier this month my friend Anna, a dedicated photographer, and I had made plans to go explore the Laurel farmlands and the Bald Peak area. By the time we arrived, our enthusiasm for being outside had waned. After taking a few photos and walking a short way along dusty paths, we were contemplating our other options. Despite being warm and bright, it was quite hazy in the distance over the Chehalem Valley, but even so, we spotted water out in the valley west of Bald Peak. That lake made us think of Henry Hagg Lake, which is one of the seemingly few outdoor swimming holes in Washington County. The lake is just 25 miles southwest of Portland, at the base of Oregon’s coastal range, and is filled in part by Scoggins Creek, which flows from these mountains. Just thinking about the cool water, combined with the sweat trickling down our temples, prompted us to change plans and head out to Hagg Lake.
What a terrific idea it turned out to be! By time we reached the park it was just after 6 p.m., and the crowds were leaving! Park closing is at sunset (8:41 p.m.), so we had a little more than two hours to swim. This was the first time for both of us to swim at Hagg Lake. While I was surprised at how rocky the lake edge was even at C-Ramp Recreation Area where they have a “sand beach”, it didn’t take long to get beyond the rocks to deep water though. As the lake is a multi-use lake, speedboats cruised further out on the lake, and occasionally slowly cruised through the swimming area. And the water was warm! As the sun lowered, the water temperature cooled down, but it felt so good! Floating on the lake was the perfect way to cool down. As the sun sank behind the coniferous trees, the sky in the south became a gorgeous purple, pink and peachy light orange, while the water took on deep violet and indigo shades. By the time we left, the evening had cooled to a pleasant warmth, and home we drove, relaxed.
To know when you go:
Henry Hagg Lake: 50250 SW Scoggins Valley Road, Gaston, OR 97119
Open dawn to dusk
Parking fee of $7 can be bought at the main gate.
A map of the park can be picked up at the gate as well.
Personal flotation device loaner stations are scattered along the west side of the park for people to borrow life vests.