Living in Los Angeles means having access to some of the most iconic beaches in the world, but few know that our lovely desert-bound city offers so much more water-filled wonders. If you’re looking for a more adventurous way to cool down, there are plenty of swimming holes near the city to cool off from the hot Californian sun. And in true Angeleno fashion, you can even fit in a little workout while you discover Mother Nature’s hidden gems! Here’s a list of swimming spots around Los Angeles that aren’t the beach.
Note: Access may be limited due to restrictions, make sure you check before heading out. It’s also advisable to check weather and water conditions before going.
1. Malibu Creek Rock Pool
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You’ll be able to take a hike through the incredible Malibu State Park and take a dip in the volcanic swimming hole. The perfect way to cool off after a hike. You can also explore the 8,000 acres of beautiful scenery which includes jagged peaks, oak and sycamore woodlands, tallgrass hills and biking trails!
WARNING: Diving injuries at the park’s Rock Pool are a common occurrence which is why it is ILLEGAL. Rocks concealed beneath the murky waters can cause serious harm, and in some cases death. Please be cautious when visiting.
📍 1925 Las Virgenes Road, Calabasas, CA 91302
2. Eaton Canyon
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Okay, you won’t actually be able to swim the shallow waters at the waterfall pool located at the end of this hike – but you’ll definitely enjoy wading through the waters before you take a refreshing dip under the waterfall! Plus, this makes the perfect location if you’re looking for your next “nature bae” profile pic.
Note: while the park has been closed due to overcrowding, it has now reopened with reservations required. Book your spot here.
📍 1801-1945 Veranada Ave, Altadena, CA 91001
3. Cooper Canyon Falls
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Getting to Cooper Canyon Falls isn’t a complicated task, all you have to do is start at the Buckhorn Campground and take the Burkhart Trail! The water isn’t deep, but considering how refreshing the water will feel on a warm summer’s day – you’ll probably be able to figure something out.
📍 Burkhart Trail, Pearblossom, CA 93553
4. Hermit Fall
You’ll have to climb down to get to the swimming hole after a short hike, but we promise – it’s sooo worth it. With people trekking up and down the rocks can get a bit slippery, so be careful and hold onto the rope for extra safety. Though you may see people (hopefully pros) jumping off the rocks, it’s not recommended.
📍 From the Foothill Freeway (I-210) in Arcadia, take the Santa Anita Avenue exit and drive north to Chantry Flat, 4.6 miles.
5. Bridge to Nowhere
This has to be one of our favorite places in L.A.! The 5-mile hike can be a bit tiring, but you’ll feel on top of the world once you get to the actual bridge that leads to… nowhere. But that’s not completely true considering if you climb below the bridge you’ll find a number of blue swimming holes that scream: “swim in me!” If you’re really on the hunt for a good time carve out some extra time to find the secret swing!
📍 Camp Bonita Rd, La Verne, CA 91750
6. Silverwood Lake
Set in the heart of the San Bernardino National Forest, you’ll enjoy the beautiful scenery and gorgeous stretches of white, sandy beaches. While this is actually a large reservoir, it’s surrounded oak woodlands filled wildlife. From woodpeckers, bluebirds, deer and ground squirrels, you’re bound to see a few friendly creatures enjoying the landscape along with you. It’s just over an hour’s drive from L.A. but you’ll be able to escape the city for a day to enjoy nature with all the amenities to make for a comfortable exeprience—there are lifeguards, bathrooms and parking onsite. While this is a great spot for swimming, you’ll need to check the water quality online before you go.
7. Big Bear Lake
Located in the San Bernardino National Forest, this 7-mile long lake has numerous “beaches” for families and groups of friends to set up camp for the day. The serene settings or perfect for long walks through the shady forest or rugged mountain trails before dipping in. Meadow Park is one of the more popular spots with restrooms, beach sand and lifeguards. However, daring swimmers might prefer to head to Garstin Island where you’ll find rocks to dive off and fewer people around.
8. Deep Creek Hot Springs
This incredible aquatic oasis is located in the beautiful San Bernardino National Forest. These regionally significant springs offer both hot and cold recreational opportunities. But this paradise comes with a number of risks you should consider before dipping in. Due to the high number of visitors, it has one of the highest counts of Fecal Coliform. The Hot Springs pools also contain a rare and sometimes fatal disease called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis. On top of that, you’ll need plenty of water for the hike there and uphill hike back and keep an eye out for rattle snakes.
📍 Pacific Crest Nat’l Scenic Trl, Apple Valley, CA 92308
9. Sandy Cove at Hume Lake
This incredibly secluded lake is tranquil and perfect for swimming, kayaking and exploring coves or hiking to waterfalls. Motorized boats are prohibited which makes it clean and stress-free. It’s around 250 miles from Hollywood and best of all, the Kings Canyon National Park is free.
10. Switzer Falls
Last but not least: Switzer Falls is one of the easiest waterfalls to get to in the Angeles National Forest. With this season’s heavy rainfall, you can expect high water levels (and consequently: a high volume of visitors). But don’t let that deter you, this lovely freshwater pool is the perfect place to take a blissful dip after a 1.8-mile hike. Heads up: access requires an Adventure Pass, which can be purchased for just $5 a day (or $30 a year) at the Switzer Picnic Area.
📍 701 Angeles Crest Hwy, Tujunga, CA 91042
REMEMBER: Your safety is your responsibility. Always check with park officials before swimming and follow the tips below.
- Only swim in designated swimming areas.
- Do not consume alcohol when swimming or watching children swim.
- Recreational floating devices are not replacements for life jackets.
- Swim with lifeguards present.
- Pay attention to signs and follow park rules.
Also published on Medium.