Cherry Flat lies a few miles upstream from Trinity Lake along the Stuart Fork of the Trinity River. This watershed begins in the heart of the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area at Sapphire and Emerald Lakes. Until the late 1950s Stuart Fork fed directly into the Trinity River. At this time Trinity Dam was being constructed as part of the Central Valley Project to supply water to the San Joaquin Valley.
Mining in the Trinity mountains and especially along Stuart Fork was very prominent in the mid 1800s. Remnants of this activity can still be seen along Stuart Fork, though not near Cherry Flat.
Despite the history of human activity around Cherry Flat, immediately upstream the river is protected by the Forest Service as a national wilderness area, leaving the water pristine. The Cherry Flat swimming holes are on a narrow section of private land surrounded by the Trinity National Forest, which is a place of abundant wildlife. On the short 1 mile walk to the swimming hole it is common to see black-tailed deer, various birds of prey, or rattlesnakes.
Anyone wanting to stay a night on the Stuart Fork and near Cherry Flat can camp for free in the sites just past the parking area on the left. Note: This camping area is not the Bridge Camp campground.
To find the swimming hole, follow the gated road above the parking area. At the first fork in the road stay right, then take the left path at the second fork. A very old and distinguishable mossy oak marks the correct path. Signs in the area indicate that the trail passes through private property, so please respect the landowner's property and be a conscientious visitor by practicing Leave No Trace principles and minimizing your impact on the area.
Swimming holes and cliff jumping can be extremely dangerous and unpredictable outdoor activities that pose significant risks regarding personal safety. Changing water levels, unseen rocks, and river bottoms that have shifted with currents and seasonal weather can turn a well-known jumping area into a serious hazard. Prior to engaging in these activities, extensively scout the current conditions, and understand the risks involved with serious injury and the logistical challenges of evacuation from the water so you can make safe decisions.