Wilson River Swimming

• Wilson River warms up nicely for comfortable swimming during summer
• This is the perfect place for swimming, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and hiking

Wilson River originates at the Northern Oregon Coast Range, taking in the melted glacier water of the mountains. It stretches for 33 miles flowing to Tillamook Bay through the Tillamook State Forest.

There are conveniently located swimming spots along the river's entire length, from the developed day-use areas to small secluded swimming holes.

Like many other coastal Oregon rivers, the water warms up fast during summer. In addition, it has a slow current, making it perfect for many water activities.

You can enjoy swimming, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, angling, and more here. Meanwhile, the Tillamook State Forest is perfect for camping, hiking, picnicking, and nature viewing.

Smith Homestead

Wilson River - Smith HomesteadSmith Homestead is a historic location with river access. In 1886, the first settlers, Walter and Alice Smith, moved here and staked the first homestead claim at the place now known as the Smith Homestead Day-Use Area. The site is accessible by short trails where you can learn the story of early pioneers via interpretive signs.

River access is a pebble beach with large rocks spread around. There are some rapids in the river, but it is generally slow and shallow. No amenities.


Jones Creek Day-Use Area and Campground

Wilson River - Smith HomesteadJones Creek has a campground, day-use area, and easy river access. It sits on the northern bank of the river, 0.5 miles from Smith Homestead.

The day-use area has picnic tables, restrooms, and a large covered section you can book for events.

The riverbank is rocky, and the river is shallow here. Big volcanic rock slabs sit in the river, so you can sit or sunbathe there.



Tillamook Forest Center

Tillamook Forest Center is a unique museum of Oregon forest. You will see a climbable 40 feet high fire lookout tower, an interpretive center with multiple displays, and a 250 feet long suspension bridge across the Willson River.

The bridge is a fantastic observation point with scenic river and forest views. Cross the bridge and go down to the river to get to the swimming hole with a rocky beach.

Wilson River here is wide with deep and shallow areas and small rapids right before the widening. The area near the rapids is shallow and perfect for kids, while the area closer to the bridge is deeper.

Tillamook Forest Center

Wilson River here is wide with deep and shallow areas and small rapids right before the widening. The area near the rapids is shallow and perfect for kids, while the area closer to the bridge is deeper.

Amenities: Restrooms and drinking water at the Forest Center
Day-use fees: None
Managed by: US Forest Service

GPS: N 45°35.123' W 123°33.628' | 45.58538 -123.56047

Wilson River Footbridge

Wilson River FootbridgeThis spot features much deeper pools near the cliffs and under a footbridge. Also, there are shallow places for wading and kids splashing. Rapids are used for tubing, and cliffs are popular for jumping.

Do not jump from the footbridge. The water level underneath varies, and bridge jumping can be extremely dangerous.


Keening Creek Campground

Keenig Creek – Wilson RiverLocated along a wide stretch of the The Keenig Creek area sits along a wide stretch of the Wilson River and it is an excellent scenic spot to cool off without big crowds. The large and deep pool with dark emerald water is right below the bridge in the rocky river canyon.

A short trail on the bridge's east side will take you to the river bank. A rope swing is tied to the bridge bottom. A massive rock over 20 feet tall sits under the bridge and functions as a platform to swing from before launching into the water.


Mills Bridge

This place is popular among anglers in the fall, but the summertime makes it a perfect swimming place for the entire family.

Mills Bridge swimming hole with a rocky beach sits at the river bend. The river widens significantly here with a slow current and no rapids.

Mill Bridge Swimming

The area near the bank is shallow and perfect for kids, while the deeper area across the river has rocks and a rope some people jump from.

Amenities: None
Day-use fees: Yes
Managed by: Tillamook County

GPS: N 45°28.246' W 123°44.010' | 45.47077, -123.73350



Wilson River is a fantastic place for both boat and bank fishing. It is abundant with fall Chinook salmon, winter steelhead, sea-run cutthroat trout, and a variety of other fish you can catch.

Spots like Mills Bridge are great for fishing during the cold season. You can organize your fishing trip or use one of the outfits to do it.


Tillamook Forest has a variety of hiking trails, with some running along the Wilson River.

Wilson River Trail is a 21-mile hike from Keenig Creek to Elk Creek Trailheads. It can be accessed from different points, including the Keenig Creek Trailhead.

You can pick certain sections of the trail to make your hike longer or shorter. For example, the distance to the footbridge is 6.1 miles and 9.5 miles to Jones Creek. The moderate-difficulty route is designated for hikers and mountain bikers.

Camping & Lodging

There are multiple places to stay at around the Tillamook Forest.

The largest campground in the Tillamook State Forest is at Jones Creek, with 42 first-come, first-served campsites, and 1 reservable group site.

Approximately 0.4 miles further along Wolf Creek Road at Keenig Creek, there is a rustic Keenig Creek campground. The campground has 12 walk-in tent sites with tent pads, picnic tables, and fire pits.

Lodging in Tillamook, 18 miles away.

Affordable vacation rentals for short and long term stay.

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