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Swimming Holes

Updated on September 19, 2017

Spend a hot summer afternoon in the nearest swimming hole

I live in swimming hole country, near the Klamath River in Northern California. We don't swim in the river - we swim in the creeks! The creeks have clean, clear water.

Hot days, sweat, and that lazy, exhausted feeling. All these can be cured by a dip in a countryside swimming hole. I am lucky to live in a town where there are swimming holes all around. I invite you to visit us here and check out some of the local summer cooling-off places.

Where I live: Happy Camp, California is a small town of about 1200 people. We're located deep in the heart of the Klamath National Forest. During the summer there's plenty to do here, including gold prospecting, rafting, and hiking. And of course, there are the lovely swimming holes to cool off in.

Later in this lens I'll invite you to tell us about swimming holes in your area. I'll also list books about swimming holes in other areas.

Images on this page are mine unless otherwise noted or from Amazon. © 2012.

Klamath River Valley

Swimming Holes

Clear Creek Swimming Holes

Clear Creek is five miles southwest of Happy Camp, just past the Wingate River Access. There's an old store there that's been converted into a home. Park across the street next to the telephone and hike down the path to the creek for a great swimming hole experience.

To get more wild with it, you can go back to Wingate and turn left on Clear Creek Road. Drive eight miles on this rural dirt road ... don't stop until the end of the road. There you'll find a little campground, and a trail head for the Siskiyou Wilderness. Walk a mile or two along this path, next to Clear Creek, and you'll find several beautiful swimming holes just before the footbridge that crosses the creek into the wilderness area.

The Eddy - Happy Camp's Most Popular Swimming Hole

... three miles north of Happy Camp on Indian Creek Road.

The Eddy in Indian Creek is one of the best-known swimming holes in the Happy Camp area. There are steep rocks to climb down, but then a good sized area suitable for small children to wade in so long as their parents watch closely, and a much deeper place for older people to swim with rocks to jump off of.

My boyfriend and I like to go downstream a bit to swim across the creek to a rock formation where we can get out and rest in sun or shade. Very relaxing!

My son who is a bit more adventurous has gone tubing down Indian Creek many times, from this location to the confluence with the Klamath River.

Laughing Waters Spa

...a favorite place of mine.

I gave this place the name of Laughing Waters Spa. We spent a lot of time in it last summer. It is in the South Fork of Indian Creek near the bridge. You can spend a few minutes sitting under the little waterfall getting a nice natural upper-back massage. This is something like having a jacuzzi, but very natural and comforting. One day a snake joined us there. Don't be surprised if nature steps in. Little fishes live there too. Take goggles to have a look beneath the surface.

You can find more information about Laughing Waters Spa here: Laughing Waters Spa.

Elk Creek Swimming Holes

You can't find a cleaner, more pristine and clear stream than Elk Creek - a cool, delicious dip in the finest water which flows from the Marble Mountain Wilderness south of the Klamath River.

To get there, go to Happy Camp, that precious jewel of a community in the center of the Klamath National Forest, and cross the Elk Creek Bridge which is paradoxically the big bridge over the Klamath River. We call it the Elk Creek Bridge because it leads to Elk Creek Road. You'll need to turn right and when the road forks less than a mile from the bridge, take the left fork. That puts you directly on Elk Creek Road. Follow that road five miles to Five Mile Bridge. There, just before the bridge, you can go straight onto a dirt road which leads to a New 49er mining claim. There's a small swimming hole area at the first turn-off. There's an even better swimming hole area at the next turn-off.

But don't stop there. If you want something really challenging and fun, go another seven miles down the road (turning left, turning left) to Sulphur Springs Campground, a forest-service hosted oasis. There's a small hot spring there you can get into for your health and relaxation. Cross the foot bridge and turn right to get to the hot spring area. Or turn left and head down the Elk Creek Trail toward the Marble Mountains.

Before long you'll come to an amazing, deep swimming hole surrounded by huge boulders. This is a great place to swim, and the rocks are there for jumping off of. It is so very beautiful! But one warning - to get out of this swimming hole can be difficult, and if you're not in great shape, you might have trouble. I recommend this one for the youthful, athletic types. The rest of us can sit on the boulders, enjoy the water-fallish rapids just above the swimming hole, and relax. Oh, and one more warning... a bit of insect repellent would come in handy.

Southern Oregon

Swimming Holes

The Illinois River

...outstanding swimming holes in Southern Oregon.

During the summer we love to go over the hill to Southern Oregon. They have some of the most beautiful swimming holes I've ever seen. To find some easily accessible swimming holes in the Illinois River, go north from Selma (you'll have to ask locals there for directions) along the river. There are many places to get out to swim, some developed and some not. This gives an exceptional swimming experience for the whole family.

Illinois River, Southern Oregon

Illinois River, Southern Oregon
Illinois River, Southern Oregon

... just a poll to let us know what people like best.

Where do you swim?

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