Technically located on the North Fork of the North Fork of the American River, North Fork Falls is a secluded and picturesque stretch of tributary on the western slope of the Sierra. Here, tucked under the limbs of an evergreen forest, a series of refreshing pools and cascading waterfalls await the summer swimming-hole seeker.
Those in search of a thrilling way to cool off will find cliff jumps ranging in height from 10 to 25 feet, where millennia of winter snowmelt has carved away the granite and left beautiful cascades. A waterfall at the upper pool offers the largest jump; smaller options are available at the lower pool. While the upper pool requires either a jump from above or a scramble up rocks to access, the lower pools are family friendly and easily reachable from the trail.
The falls and pools are reached by following the river a quarter-mile downstream from the North Fork Campground. The trail begins near site 10. The trail parallels the river and then drops down below the falls, providing easy access.
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.