Ten-foot cliffs to jump off — about the same height as a standard high dive — are a standout feature of this spot between Lebanon and Sweet Home. (Be careful, though, as there was a wasp nest near a popular jump-off point in late July.)
Some summers, there's also a rope swing underneath the bridge.
Bates Bridge should come with a warning, though, and not about the graffiti underneath it.
The water is extremely cold.
The current of the South Santiam also is fairly swift, so only strong swimmers should take the plunge off the cliffs or rope swing.
Bates Bridge is a popular starting point for rafters and innertubers, who then float to Waterloo County Park, another swimming hole.
And people can simply wade around and look for agates, too.
As an added bonus, Bates Bridge is on the way to and from the hiking trails of McDowell Creek Falls.
Directions: Take Highway 20 east of Lebanon toward Sweet Home. Follow the sign toward McDowell Creek Falls County Park by turning east on Fairview Road. Veer left onto McDowell Creek Road and continue for about three more miles.