5 Sweet Swimming Holes Under the Redwoods

Hiking and swimming go together like a hot meal and a cool drink — one is invigorating, the other is refreshing. Together, they make a wonderful combo. So, where are some great places to go swimming under the redwoods, you might ask? Here are five great recommendations for you. Dive right in!

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is known for its epic old-growth redwoods. But did you know about the park’s swimming beach located on Smith River? After a day spent hiking under the redwoods, it might be nice to cool down. Smith River is prime for fishing, kayaking, and snorkeling (with a wetsuit, since the water is usually cold). If you happen to be at the park early in the morning or at dusk, listen for a bird that goes “keer, keer” — it could be the elusive marbled murrelet.

Richardson Grove State Park

If your backyard swimming pool feels confined, try the swimming hole at Richardson Grove State Park — it’s huge (and deep)! The water is placid and a deep bluish-green — and it couldn’t be any more inviting. A pebbly bank lines one side of the water, creating a perfect spot for visitors to relax in the sun. If you’d rather wade ankle-deep instead of swim, walk south of the visitor center. There, you’ll find more shallow water. Many visitors bring tubes to float down the river, which is not a bad way to spend the day.

Navarro River Redwoods State Park

To better understand Navarro River Redwoods State Park, look at it on Google Maps. The park is shaped like a snake and follows the course of North Fork Navarro River. This, of course, makes it perfect for many aquatic activities. Fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming — they’re all options. Here’s a League tip: Check out the swimming hole at milepost marker 3.66. For those who are less enthusiastic about getting in the water, the park is still a great place to go for a scenic drive and a picnic.

Mendocino Headlands State Park

Mendocino Headlands State Park is where primeval redwood forest and rugged California coastline meet. Not surprisingly, it’s a magical place. Visitors are welcome to wade or swim in the Big River — a respite from rugged ocean surf. Another alluring feature is the sea caves, which are embedded in the coastline and accessible by kayak. For anyone inclined to stay out of the water, several trails run along the bluff. No matter what activity you choose, spectacular views lie ahead.

Van Duzen County Park

Although Van Duzen County Park is off the beaten path, it’s well worth the visit. The park is known for Swimmers Delight, an excellent place to wade or swim on a hot summer day. At this spot, the water has carved out a steep sandstone bluff on one side of the river. On the other side, the water washes onto a flat, pebbly beach. The river is wide, gently flowing, and wildly picturesque — it’s the kind of place where childhood memories are made.

For more great spots to take a dip, read “Make a Big Splash Among the Big Trees” on our Giant Thoughts blog.

About the author

Madeleine Turner grew up near Los Angeles and holds a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from UC Santa Cruz. When she isn't writing, she's reading or running under the redwoods.

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3 Responses to “5 Sweet Swimming Holes Under the Redwoods”

  1. Kirsten Lake

    Swimmers delight is also an excellent campground! The spots are large and feel private even though there are sights all around you. My husband and I honeymooned there!

  2. Art Kramer

    At Hendy Woods, walk through the Big Grove to the Navarro River, then along the old logging road that actually goes to Philo. Along the way there are a numbe4r of lovely swimming holes and big rocks to sit on. As a former State Park Ranger at Hendy, it was always a nice way to beat the summer heat!

    • Save the Redwoods League

      Thanks for sharing the awesome tips!


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