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Avoid the summer heat at Anderson Island

Beaches and a swimming hole will keep you cool

Lowell Johnson Park AKA the Ole’ Swimmin’ Hole is on the shores of Florence Lake and is a good place to cool off from the summer heat. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

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When summer begins to heat up, try something new and head to Anderson Island to cool off in an old-fashioned swimming hole. Getting there is half the fun with a 30-minute ferry ride across the Puget Sound.         

At the end of Union St., in the town of Steilacoom, sits the ferry landing where you can catch a ride to Anderson Island. You can walk on or take your car. The island is larger than it looks, so I would opt to drive, especially with all the gear for a day at the lake. The ferry is first come, and depending on the time of day, runs every 30 minutes to an hour. It is a scenic ride - on my last trip we saw porpoises and a Bald Eagle hanging out on the dock.

Anderson Island has one general store, two restaurants, no street lights and a well-known swimming hole which has been featured in national publications. To get to Lowell Johnson Park -- AKA the Ole' Swimmin' Hole -- from the ferry, follow Yoman Rd. uphill and turn left at Harbor Rd., then right onto Guthrie Rd. The site has long been used as a gathering place for locals, including (allegedly) for bathing before the island had electric power in the 1960s.

Set on the shores of Lake Florence, a rare fresh water island lake, the park has two separate swimming areas: one for smaller kids with a floating dock and a slide; and another off shore with a floating dock and a separate floating platform with a tower to jump from. There are sandy beaches, a volleyball court and a picnic area. Note: No dogs or alcohol allowed.

Anderson Island has 11 parks, three are undeveloped which offer access to wooded hiking and secluded beaches. Jacob's Point Park has 2.5 miles of trails through wetlands and woods with beach access. Take time to observe the wetland ecosystem from the raised walkway. The Brickyard Loop Trail will give you access to an historic brickyard, a picnic table and beach access. This park is also known as a great birding area with both woodland and shore birds in large numbers. At one point, this was a pioneer farm and is now returning to its natural state.

The local Island General Store is a good stop to pick up an island map and any picnic fixings you may have forgotten. It is located at 10202 Eckenstam-Johnson Rd. and is not too far past the turnoff for the swimming hole. Nearby is the Anderson Island Café, which is a coffee shop that also serves breakfast, lunch and dinner at a leisurely island pace. Make sure to check out the Monday evening Burger night and weekend dinner specials.

The Riviera Community Club has a golf course and restaurant which are open to the public. The property has two freshwater lakes. Insider Tip: If you love it, you can buy an unimproved lot for $3,500.

For more information on the island, visit: and

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