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Jared Kennedy | 06.14.2016

With temperatures in summer often soaring into the 90s and beyond, there are so many great rivers, lakes, and ponds to escape to in Northern California. There are a few amazing gems that stand out beyond the rest. Cliffs to jump from into waterfall-fed pools. Boulders to lie out on when warming up after a cool dunk. Crystal clear water from mountain runoff. These swimming holes are worth a short drive, or even a longer one combined with a camping trip.

Swimming holes can mean lots of people, and that usually also means excessive trampling of plants, large amounts of garbage, cans and glass bottles, human waste, and toilet paper left behind. 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.

  1. Richardson Grove Swimming Hole - A family-friendly pool south of Eureka, with nearby camping and hiking.
  2. Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area Swimming Hole - A quiet, slow stretch of the South Fork Eel River, with cliff jumping options.
  3. Upper Falls, McCloud River - A quiet, secluded swimming hole in a waterfall-fed pool.
  4. Middle Falls, McCloud River - Slightly busier than Upper Falls, a beautiful broad waterfall pours into the swimming hole. 
  5. Lower Falls, McCloud River - The busiest of the McCloud River falls, Lower Falls is family friendly with lots of great jumping rocks.
  6. Hatchet Falls/Lionslide Falls - Climb a fallen tree turned into a staircase to get from the pool to the top of the falls.
  7. Potem Falls - A hidden gem northeast of Redding, this is a truly beautiful place to cool off in the summer.
  8. Lake Anza - Family friendly beach and lake in the East Bay's Tilden Park, with lots of places to lay in the sunshine before and after a swim.
  9. Oregon Creek Day Use Area - A quiet swimming hole with a covered bridge over it, located northeast of Sacramento.
  10. Highway 49 Crossing - A beautiful and sometimes very crowded swimming hole on the South Yuba River with large boulders to flanking the river.
  11. North Fork Falls - A secluded waterfall with great cliff jumping on the road between Sacramento and Truckee.
  12. D.L. Bliss State Park - Amazingly clear waters and a relaxing beach on the western shore of Lake Tahoe.
  13. Emerald Bay State Park - Continuing south from D.L Bliss State Park, Emerald Bay is as beautiful of a stretch of Lake Tahoe shoreline as it gets.
  14. Meeks Bay Beach - A long stretch of white sand beachfront on Lake Tahoe's western shore, with shaded picnic areas and clear water.

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, 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.

Comments

02/27/2020
First, off you’re An ass for telling people to go rub poison oak all over their body. Also, If you live in Californi...these are our falls & swimming holes, not yours.
Hello, I am a local to a couple of these spots you listed and that's all gravy that you want to share awesome water holes with the masses, however locals really don't appreciate it when the out of towners come and trash our beautiful watering holes. Maybe on the next blog you can let everyone one know that it is important to pack out what you packed in. Also a quick tip: leaves of three make mesquites flee. If the bugs are getting you while visiting these spots find a small bush type plant it will have three finger leaves and be a greenish sometimes reddish color. Rub this leaf all over your body where the mesquites are attacking you. No one wants west Nile virus
It's Standish-Hickey, not Standish-Dickey.
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