Among the most picturesque of the swimming holes in the Cottage Grove area, the Sharps Creek Recreation Area offers easy day use access from Sharps Creek Road to the creek itself, where emerald pools await overheated visitors searching for respite from high summer temps. Sharps Creek has a modest flow for much of its length, but here the creek collects into two ideal swimming holes that are well worth the drive. A thick forest canopy offers shade options, but the creek gets quite a lot of direct sunlight along this stretch. A small day use parking area sits by Sharps Creek Road along with some picnic tables; across the road is the Sharps Creek Recreation Area Campground, which is priced modestly enough to be a day use option for those needing more room to stage food, shade tents, and parking.
A narrow, paved ramp leads down to the main swimming hole from the day use area. Here sits a truly luxurious pool where the current slows to a crawl and the bottom of the creek drops down to imperceptible depths. A large rock juts out toward the deep water, beckoning jumpers who are careful enough to spot their landing and inspect it for hazards ahead of time. There is even a small beach and flat rock for laying out, not to mention the exploration to be had on the opposite bank. Additionally, if this pool gets a little crowded, head up stream for another spot that is slightly shallower but still deep enough for full immersion. The rocks upstream have been sculpted by the creek into curves and domes, and a small rapid provides the perfect soundtrack for the day.
Though not as popular as nearby Wildwood Falls, Sharps is not an unknown spot by any stretch. Be prepared for crowds on the weekends, though you may have the place to yourself on the weekdays. Unfortunately, these beautiful areas are frequently trashed by careless users, and the waterway and land can use all the care and protection you can give. Keep your noise levels reasonable, and haul out a little litter in addition to your own garbage if you can.