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Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes

07.02.17

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Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
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  • Red Rock Pool: A swimming hole in a scenic riverbed.- Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
  • Rock Pool swimming hole, Malibu Creek State Park.- Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
  • Upper Escondido Falls.- Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
  • Sturtevant Falls.- Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
  • The swimming hole at Hermit Falls.- Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
  • Continue hiking past the Bridge to Nowhere to access the Narrows and its backcountry camp and swimming holes.- Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
  • West Fork San Grabriel River at West Fork Day Use Area.- Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
  • Aztec Falls swimming hole.- Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
  • Deep Creek Hot Springs.- Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
  • Deep Creek Canyon 0.5 miles upstream from Devils Hole.- Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
  • Swimming hole at Deep Creek Warm Springs.- Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
  • Swim Beach on the southwestern shore of Lake Gregory Regional Park.- Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
  • Cleghorn Day Use Area and Swim Beach.- Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
  • Silverwood Lake Swim Beach.- Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
  • Swim beach at East Public Boat Launch on Big Bear Lake.- Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
  • Big Bear Lake West Shore Beach.- Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
  • Three Sisters Waterfall: View from the top of the falls looking north toward the trail.- Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
  • Another view of the Cedar Creek Falls and the swimming hole.- Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
  • Darwin Falls. Photo by John Cody.- Southern California's 18 Best Swimming Holes
Article
Team

Perhaps nowhere else in the U.S. are freshwater swimming holes more desired than in Southern California, and for good reason. Almost all of SoCal is desert, and during the long inland months of summer, daytime heat can easily rise to 115 degrees.

Luckily, the mountains of SoCal rise high (San Gorgonio Mountain in the San Bernardinos peaks out at an impressive 11,503 feet) and capture a surprisingly plentiful bounty of snow in the winter months that saturate the ground and create pools, springs, and waterfalls in the most unexpected places. That being said, California is no stranger to drought, and it is still composed of arid landscapes that will dry up fast by as early as early-July, so catching the right swimming hole certainly favors the early birds. And you can count on most of them being nearly dry by end of August and nonexistent by September.

​Before heading out, though, remember that these swimming holes are sacred to many and proper etiquette and ethical behavior are crucial to keeping them open to the public for years to come. Stay safe, be courteous, and have fun!

​Santa Barbara Area

  1. Red Rock Pool (cliff jumping)

Malibu Area

  1. Rock Pool, Malibu Creek State Park (kid-friendly)
  2. Escondido Falls

San Gabriel Mountains

  1. Sturtevant Falls
  2. Hermit Falls (cliff jumping)
  3. Bridge to Nowhere, East Fork San Gabriel River
  4. West Fork Day Use Area (kid-friendly)

San Bernardino Mountains

  1. Aztec Falls (cliff jumping)
  2. Deep Creek Hot Springs (cliff jumping)
  3. Upper Deep Creek Canyon (cliff jumping)
  4. Lower Deep Creek Canyon (cliff jumping)
  5. Lake Gregory Regional Park (beach, kid-friendly)
  6. Cleghorn Day Use Area + Swim Beach, Silverwood Lake  (beach, kid-friendly)
  7. Silverwood Lake Swim Beach (beach, kid-friendly)
  8. East Public Boat Launch, Big Bear Lake (beach, kid-friendly)
  9. Big Bear Lake West Shore Beach (beach, kid-friendly)

San Diego Area

  1. Three Sisters Waterfall
  2. Cedar Creek Falls + Devils Punchbowl

 

Caution! Be Safe

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.

Leave No Trace

The Forest Service and other local management agencies are considering closing access to many of these sensitive locations due to excessive trampling of plants, large amounts of garbage, cans and glass bottles, graffiti, human waste, and toilet paper left behind.  They simply do not have the staff or the funding to attend to these issues. If you want to continue enjoying these areas, pack out all garbage and toilet paper and dispose of it properly, use vault toilets and other restroom facilities when provided, and stay on established paths. Using these areas responsibly will increase the chance that people can continue to enjoy them.

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