The Five Best Swimming Holes in Southern California

Forget the public pool. These five spots are worth the drive.

By The Editors
May 23, 2017 9:00 am

This is just one installment of 37 Things a Man’s Gotta Do This Summer, our annual compendium of everything worth seeing, doing, eating, drinking and generally making time for in your neck of the woods between now and September.

Chlorine? Good on that.

Summer means swimming holes.

Ideally situated at the end of a brisk hike. Probably with a barbecue nearby. And adjacent to a tent beneath a giant maple, if possible.

With that in mind, these are our five favorite swimming holes within driving distance of Los Angeles.

Float on.

Cedar Creek Falls
Do this one before the end of June, as it may be dried up by the end of the month. A gorgeous, five-mile hike (round-trip) will get you there; be sure to enjoy views of the high-desert landscape along the way.


Aztec Falls
The slow-moving water along Deep Creek is cold but frequented. You’ll have to hike a mile to Aztec Falls, so bring a pair of hiking boot along with your sandals.


Little Harbor and Shark Harbor
You’ll find Little Harbor and Shark Harbor on the southwest side of Catalina. This is less crowded than most spots on this list (no surprise, given how difficult it is to get there), and the water is pellucid enough to sometimes spot lobsters on the seabed. Stick around and camp for the night.


Rock Pool Swimming Hole
The cool, deep waters of the Rock Pool make it one of our city’s classic swimming holes. You’ll hike about five miles to the pool, and you can see where they filmed scenes from the original Planet of the Apes once you reach your destination.


Cooper Canyon Falls
Cooper Canyon Falls is more of a hike followed by a dip than a dip worth hiking for. That said, you’ll definitely want to dunk your head in the cold falls after making this trek. Bonus: there are campsites nearby.



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