Enjoy one of Northern California's finest natural wonders while getting in some cool thrills as you beat the summer heat. University Falls is a popular local swimming hole located on Pilot Creek that offers three natural water slides, cliff jumping, and plenty of spaces to take in the summer sunshine. Getting to this cool-down spot requires a hike on the University Falls Trail, which winds through groves of pine trees as it eventually approaches a slightly tricky decline to your final destination. The trail is a there-and-back, and it totals around 5 miles round trip. Because the last portion of the trail is moderately difficult, hiking or athletic shoes are recommended.
There are three old cars that mark the end of the trail, and a set of small waterfalls for those who prefer a more mellow setting. Weekends during the summer months are pretty busy, and arriving before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m. is recommended, as parking and space near the falls can be difficult during the mid-day hours. The falls are actually a collection of four, with the first three being safe for sliding. It is highly recommended to not slide down the fourth slide, as it is very dangerous. While the slides are fairly smooth, it would be wise to wear shorts or other protective clothing to avoid scratches or other small injuries. You can navigate around the slides by negotiating a steep trail to your right as you approach the falls.
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.