Tenino Quarry Pool
Hands down the most stunning swim spot in the state, the onetime sandstone quarry southeast of Olympia flooded in 1926 and is now divided into two sections, a shallow chlorinated kiddie area and a deep end under scalloped rock walls. Over here, the water is inky black, and before 2017 no one really knew what was at the bottom—until Tenino’s mayor dove 75 feet down and discovered an old steam engine at the bottom.
Pass this swim spot on a drive along Highway 2 and you may wonder why so many cars are crammed into the dirt pullouts between Index and Baring. The south fork of the Skykomish rushes just below the roadway, with polished rock serving as pool deck and launch point for brave cliff-jumpers. Though beautiful, the spot suffers from graffiti and garbage problems.
Green River Gorge
It might take a local to point out the footpath north of Enumclaw through a conservation area to a rocky beach under a sandstone cliff. Trees cling to its vertical surface, creating a dramatic backdrop for a dip in the river. Kayakers may shoot past through the preserved Green River Gorge, a particular passion project of the late environmentalist and mountaineer Wolf Bauer who died in 2016 just shy of 104 years old.
Lake Washington T Dock
Are you here to swim or are you here to be seen? Both are good reasons to flock to Leschi’s beloved hangout beach. The titular T-shaped dock juts into the lake from Lake Washington Boulevard, and on clear days Mount Rainier serves as a suitable backdrop for bathing-suit selfies. Midsummer, the buzz here almost makes us a beach town.
A mile hike up the Denny Creek trail near Snoqualmie Pass leads to nature’s waterslides, aka slick angled rock over deep pools. The falls themselves are just up the trail, but even the gentle rapids are prone to frigid temps. Coniferous forests form a tree canyon on either side of the river, so it’s a delightful picnic spot, regardless of whether you take the plunge.