37 Things a Man's Gotta Do This Summer: Swimming Holes

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

By Diane Rommel

37 Things a Man's Gotta Do This Summer: Swimming Holes
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23 May 2017

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 on the sandy-beach bend of a lazy river. Probably with a barbecue nearby. And adjacent to a tent beneath a redwood, if possible.

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

Float on.

Bass Lake, Point Reyes
It's a 2.7-mile hike from the Palomarin Trailhead to Bass Lake along the Coastal Trail, but it'd be well worth the effort even without the much-Instagrammed rope swing this spot is known for. This is a peaceful spot, with access limited thanks to that hike — bring a float if you feel like an exceptionally lazy afternoon. 

Lester Beach, D.L. Bliss State Park
Our favorite beach spot in the world when it's not busy, with otherworldly blue water and a nice, sandy space. The "it's not busy" caveat is a meaningful one, though, so schedule a visit here for midweek mornings if possible. 

Cherry Flat Swimming Hole, Trinity National Forest
If you like jumping from rocks into a river (specifically the Stuart Fork of the Trinity River) — up to 15 feet up! — this is the top choice. The water's clean and cool, since it's just downstream of the national forest, and there's free camping nearby if you can snag a spot. 

Spring Lake, Sonoma
Spring Lake is beautiful, fun (boat rentals, no motors), and popular — normally we wouldn't go for two out of three, but we'll make an exception for this lovely swimming spot from which you can easily bike to any number of wineries. Our pick? Head for Annadel Estate

Standish-Hickey Swimming Hole
You'll walk through redwood groves to get to this swimming hole with a sandy beach and an array of rocks from which to jump — there's not much shade, so if you're looking for a break from the sun (or if the space gets busy) just float on down the Eel River for other options. 

Photos: Lester Beach by Mark Doliner. Spring Lake via Flickr. Cherry Flat by Patrick Mueller via Outdoor Project

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