Lake Crescent Adventure Swims
DATE OF SWIMS: 8/1/20, 8/2/20
A small COVID-19 pod of friends and I camped off a forest road near Lake Crescent and enjoyed two days of playing in Mediterranean-style, crystal clear, turquoise water!
Lake Crescent Adventure Logistics
If you haven't been yet, go to Lake Crescent for a swim! This trip was less intense swimming, more playing, but we managed to do two shorter 1.2 mile or so swims from two different starting points. I have a few key tips for anyone trying to go to Lake Crescent:
Bring goggles! I don't think you can really fully appreciate the blue water without them!
Make a game plan for when you're out of cell service and trying to meet up with friends. We found that AT&T had the worst service but Verizon was fine. Caravan if possible!
Leave early to get a campsite at Fairholme Campground if you want to camp right on the lake. All of the sites there are first come first serve. We arrived at 2 pm on a Friday (normal weekend, not a holiday) and they were all booked for the entire weekend.
If the campgrounds are booked (there are only three close by the lake - Fairholme, Sol Duc and Klahowya), drive west to Forest Road 2918, drive a while down the road (it's paved), go past the bridge, and then guerilla camp. We were lucky enough to find an amazing spot by the river! You can't guerilla camp anywhere on the National Park land, but once you pass the bridge, it's fair game in National Forest. The spot by the river is literally right past the bridge. Be sure to bring enough water as obviously guerilla camping spots don't have spigots close by. Below are photos of the bridge you'll need to pass and our campsite. The best parts of the guerilla camping experience are: 1) It's free! and 2) Privacy!
When you're not swimming, hike around Lake Crescent. The Spruce Railroad trail looks amazing but it was closed due to wildfires when we were there. There's also a trail to Marymere Falls, accessible from the boat launch. Some of our friends went there and loved it!
This is a dream lake with crystal clear blue water. As you swim further away from shore, the water changes from a light turquoise to a deep cerulean blue. While swimming, you can perfectly see your swim friends, trees on the bottom of the lake floor, the detail of schools of fish and the eyes and shiny scales of trout. The lake felt like a swimming pool, so much that my swim friend and I did rounds of IM (butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, free) in between lake buoys. We even had rock band parties (I played air/water piano and guitar) and tea parties under the water! It's truly something else to swim and only see crystal clear blue. I can imagine it may start to feel disorientingly trippy on a very long swim. It also was a very pleasant change to not worry about swimming into jellyfish! At one point my hand touched a leaf and I jumped back a little panicked, in well-trained fear! The water was also extremely warm, I imagine it was close to the temperature of Lake Washington right now. I swam without a wetsuit for about an hour both days.
We did two smaller swims of about 1.2 miles each. Our first swim (1st map below) was from the dock/boat launch by Marymere Falls, Lake Crescent Lodge and the Ranger Station, about .6 miles out and back. Our second swim (2nd map below) was from the Fairholme Campground public beach, about .6 miles out and back.
I can't wait to come back to Lake Crescent for more dream swimming. My friends and I talked about turning it into an annual trip, we loved it so much. We hope to camp at Fairholme in the future. Until then, I'll take jellyfish and salt water!
PS - Buoys make great pillows!