Going to the McKee Bridge swimming hole always brings back memories of being a teenager. My parents used to take us there to swim and then we would pick blackberries nearby. I have not been back in years and the nostalgia was so overwhelming when I got my first glimpse of the Applegate River, that I’m so happy that I finally got to share it with my children and hopefully someday they will remember it like I do.
McKee Bridge is pretty well known in the Applegate, but there never seems to be too many people there. It is on the way to Applegate Lake so people prefer the beach there for water play. I just love the quiet and serenity of the area; not for everyone, but greatly appreciated by me and the kids. The water is crystal clear and very cold but not intolerable, actually quite welcome on hot summer days. The beach area is not too big, there is room for probably 4 or 5 groups comfortably, but we didn’t have to worry about it since we were the only ones there for the first hour that we were there.
Olivia played in the sand with her toys and the water was calm enough for her to splash around and she even got into a little water fight with her big brother.
Ilias floated down up and down in the current and there is a sweet little swimming spot that he and a couple of other boys started rock jumping into. If you are feeling extra brave there is a rope swing there, but the boys weren’t feeling that brave so just stuck with rock jumping.
The kids finished out their water play with some mud camouflage fun. They were cracking me up, asking me to take pictures of them being kooky. I love when they just embrace the moment and are silly, especially Ilias who is so quickly growing into tweenhood. I’m savoring every moment we get of childhood antics and silliness, hoping that they last at least one moment longer.
Of course you can’t visit McKee Bridge without walking across the bridge. It is pretty amazing that it was built in 1917 and that it is still in the condition that it is in; it is the 4th oldest covered bridge in Oregon and is also the highest, 45ft above water. It originally served mining and logging traffic and is now only open to foot traffic. What's really cool is that there are graffiti boards mounted so that lame people don't draw all over this historic beauty. If you want to help preserve this awesome Applegate icon there is a donation box on site. Don't forget, the second Saturday of every June is “McKee Bridge Day” a fundraising event which includes old time activities, BBQ, root beer floats and other activities.
If you want to spend the day at McKee Bridge, there are picnic sites and a community kitchen that you can rent for a fee; go HERE to reserve. For more information about McKee Bridge go HERE. If you want to go: Take Hwy 238 out of Jacksonville, take a left on Upper Applegate Rd. and go through Ruch you will pass Little Applegate R and will see signs for McKee Bridge. It will be on your left side. MAP to McKee Bridge.
Do you have childhood spots that bring on a wave of memories? We love southern Oregon and know that you do too. Comment below, we love hearing your stories!
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