Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
140.00 ft (42.67 m)
Trail type
1.40 mi (2.25 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Potholes are a series of swimming holes carved out of the granite landscape a short hike downstream of the outflow of Silver Lake which create a picturesque swimming experience that are suitable for everyone from families with smaller children to the more adventurous rock jumpers.

The Silver Fork of the American River flows from the high elevation Silver Lake in the Kit Carson area along a meandering dusty path through forest before reaching the granite slopes, where it falls into a series of cascading pools before dropping dramatically from the hillside. The hike to the swimming holes begins from the gate of a closed forest road opposite Silver Lake's day use area. The trail parallels the stream as it descends through the forest before hitting the first of the pools at just over one mile.

The largest downfall of the swimming holes seems to be its surge in popularity recently. While there are numerous pools, presenting the option to walk a little further if the first pools are crowded, on summer weekends it can feel like most space is filled with swimmers.

Some pools are deeper and suitable for jumping into, while others are shallow and calm, making a good spot for children. 

There are no amenities of any kind located anywhere along the trail, and hikers should be aware that while the pools are in national forest land, the hike itself is through private property with access granted by the owners. Please be respectful and stick to the trail here.

During quieter times, it's possible to park on the asphalt pullout if not obstructing the forest road or gate, otherwise parking is along a narrow shoulder beside the highway. Visitors should be extremely cautious as cars pass by on the highway right next to their cars.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Street Parking

Open Year-round



Beautiful swimming experience. Multiple areas.


Limited parking. Can get crowded on weekends.

Trailhead Elevation

7,270.00 ft (2,215.90 m)

Highest point

7,270.00 ft (2,215.90 m)


Near lake or river
Big vistas
Family friendly

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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