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5 Amazing Kid-Friendly Swimming Holes

Swim, splash and play at natural swim spots for Northwest families

Published on: July 18, 2022

5 Amazing Kid-Friendly Swimming Holes

Big Eddy at Skykomish River kid-friendly swimming hole
Skykomish River: Big Eddy. Credit: Anna Katz and Shane Robinson

2. Skykomish River: Big Eddy

Big Eddy is just a couple miles from the town of Gold Bar and directly off US Highway 2, so it’s easily accessible. This place is not a secret, nor a place for solitude, but it’s high quality and fun. It’s a social beach with lots of families and kids. On one visit we saw three fullsize barbecue grills — not the little hibachi grills, mind you, but full-size backyard grills. However, car break-ins have been an issue in the past, so don’t leave anything of value in your vehicle. And because valuable items are known to get lost in sand and water, plan accordingly before leaving home: don’t bring more than you have to.

Big Eddy is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a giant eddy, or calm pool, in this big river. However, eddies can have very strong river currents if the flow is even moderate, so it’s important to swim only at the lowest flows. Luckily, Big Eddy is still quite big and deep during the Skykomish’s low flows.

The access is just past the bridge, on the right. There’s a mixed rocky, sandy beach that offers easy, moderately steep access into the pool. While you can find shade above the river shore, the area by the eddy is mostly in full sun; bring a sun tent if you need it. As of this writing, a pile of logs on the opposite shore had one big log sticking out over the flow, acting as a convenient diving board from which to jump off. Rocks and other logs that line the near shore are a great feature for some monkey play — but be mindful of conditions and aware of currents.

Steelhead, salmon and trout call this river home, so swimmers share the beach with anglers, as well as boaters (only nonmotorized boats are allowed here). People bring kayaks, canoes and rafts to launch for a two- or three-hour journey downriver (longer if just floating and not paddling) to the town of Sultan. This is a Class II ride, with some chop mostly in the first quarter mile.

Getting there

From U.S. Highway 2 in the town of Gold Bar, head east on the highway 2 miles and cross over the Skykomish River Bridge. Park in the gravel lot on the right.


  • Type: Lowland river, eddy, beach
  • Location: Roadside in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest east of Gold Bar via U.S. 2
  • Water: Cold, clear, clean, blue-green
  • Season: Late summer through early fall
  • Who's here: Kid-friendly; weekdays – recreationists, fisherfolk, kayakers; weekends — everyone 
  • Amenities: Parking, restrooms; food nearby
  • Note: Discover Pass required
  • Local's tip: You can float downstream in an inner tube. Lazy good fun!
  • GPS coordinates: 47.8360 N, –121.6576 W

Next up: Rocky Brook Falls

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