The emerald waters of the South Fork of the Eel River serpentine through a redwood-forested landscape at Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area (SRA) in Northern Mendocino County. A beautiful, albeit hot, summertime destination, Standish Hickey is home to an enticing swimming hole that will help alleviate that midday summer heat. The swimming hole is made up of a large pool deep enough to jump off adjacent rocks and a family-friendly sandy beach. Beyond the main pool, other shallow pools both upstream and downstream offer additional swimming options.
The swimming hole is accessed by driving down into the river canyon from the Standish-Hickey SRA entrance, and parking is at the day use area adjacent to Redwood Campground after crossing the seasonal vehicle bridge. A quarter-mile walk across the river plain and a seasonal footbridge brings you to the swimming hole. Despite the tall redwoods forest surrounding the river, there is limited shade at the swimming hole, so plan to bring an umbrella to get out of the sun. Please make sure to practice Leave No Trace principles and lend a helping hand by cleaning up an trash you see when visiting the Standish-Hickey swimming holes and the South Fork Eel River area.
Standish-Hickey has excellent campground facilities; the nearest being Redwood Campground. If you are interested in exploring the SRA further, consider hiking early in the morning to beat the heat and then head for the river. The Big Tree Trail and Mill Creek Loop are pleasant hiking options.
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.