Next week is going to be hot, folks, and we realize Californians know where the water’s at. But why not take a break from the beaches to visit some of SoCal’s most spectacular fresh-water pools? These scenic, natural swimming holes are located at the end of various mountainous trails, offering visitors both an offroad wilderness adventure and a daring workout. Freshwater isn’t hard to find if you know where to look.
This well-known freshwater oasis is the reward to an easy trek down the Pacific Crest Trail, near Lake Arrowhead in San Bernardino National Forest. Its towering cliffs, sunbath-able rocks, and cold water make it a popular destination on hot days. We suggest you go early and avoid holidays as much as you can—it can get as busy and bustling as L.A. traffic.
Another frequently populated freshwater oasis is the Rock Pool Swimming Hole at Malibu Creek State Park. Its massive rocks make for a perfect picnic spot, and its deep pool is great for a post-food swim. Definitely scenic and totally refreshing, but also mad crowded. So like Aztec falls, avoid weekends as much as possible and make the trip as early in the day as you can.
This beautiful 3.5-mile trek on the Burkhart Trail features a 25-foot waterfall stashed in the canyons of the San Gabriel Mountains. Though not quite deep enough for an actual swim, this waterhole is the perfect place for some feet-dipping and head-dunking.
This is where legends are born. With its soaring cliffs, Hermit Falls attracts daredevil cliff jumpers from all over California. The mountainous trek goes downhill until you reach a precipice that allows thrill-seekers to take a dive into the freezing-cold pool below. If you’re not down to plunge into the unknown, you can still enjoy the pool by climbing down the cliff via ropes.
Built in 1936 over the San Gabriel River, Bridge to Nowhere is the loving nickname for an abandoned bridge tucked away on a crumbling road in the San Gabriel Mountains. This hike (10 miles roundtrip) is a popular trail not only for those daredevils wanting to bungee jump off the bridge but also for those wishing to cool off in the river. Just beyond the bridge, the river forms a cold and deep pool of water perfect for a swim.
Snag an adventure pass to make parking easy. Remember, take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footsteps. Happy hiking!