6 Amazing Yuba River Swimming Holes

Yuba River
Senatorek/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kaleigh Moore

Updated: July 24, 2023

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Like a treasure map leading to nature’s paradise, the Yuba River weaves its way through the state of California, creating a stunning tapestry of sparkling swimming holes that rival even the most luxurious pools.

Each is a shimmering oasis, a siren call to those seeking solace from the sweltering summer heat. Imagine diving into crystal-clear waters, feeling the embrace of the cool current as it carries away your cares and cradles you in its liquid serenade.

In this article, we will guide you through 6 breathtaking aquatic sanctuaries, each with its unique charm, waiting to be discovered. Join us as we dive into the enchanting world of Yuba River swimming holes and uncover the perfect destinations for unforgettable summer adventures.

1. South Yuba River State Park Hoyt Trail

A waterfall on the South Fork Yuba River in South Yuba River State Park in Nevada County, California, United States

For thrill-seekers, there are deep pockets at the South Yuba River State Park Hoyt Trail where you can jump off the rocks.

Discover the amazing Hoyt Trail at South Yuba River State Park, a must-visit Yuba River swimming hole. Begin your adventure at the old Route 49 bridge, where you’ll find rocky beaches and shallow water – perfect for families.

By midmorning, the central area near the bridge can get busy. So, take the Hoyt Trail running east up the river to uncover more secluded spots. As you stroll along, notice numerous small trails branching off the main path, leading down to the water. Find your own space to relax, surrounded by large rocks to climb and lounge on, while enjoying the calm water.

For thrill-seekers, there are deep pockets where you can jump off the rocks. Experience the excitement of swimming up the river, climbing over a mini waterfall, and floating back down. Venture further along the main trail to reach Hoyt Crossing, a popular spot among skinny dippers. About 15 minutes up the Hoyt Trail, you’ll find a great swimming hole – a personal favorite. Here, the water feels warmer, and there are plenty of riverbanks to spread out, so you won’t feel crowded.

Parking is accessible in a tiny lot at the pedestrian bridge or in designated spaces along the road, and it is just 7 miles northwest of Nevada City, California. Ensure your car is entirely off the road when parked. You may need to park further up the road to find a safe spot.

2. Bridgeport at South Yuba River State Park

Bridgeport covered bridge in the South Yuba River State Park

Bridgeport Bridge in the South Yuba River State Park offers visitors a unique swimming experience.

Bridgeport at South Yuba River State Park is an enchanting swimming hole waiting to be explored. Situated a few miles downriver from Hoyt’s Crossing, this sought-after spot promises a delightful retreat for swimmers and sunbathers alike.

The historic Bridgeport Bridge, built in 1862, is undergoing restoration. Despite this, the waters remain accessible for eager swimmers. However, some parking and areas near the bridge may be closed off.

To access the inviting waters, head to Kneebone Beach or Family Beach. You’ll find ample parking options 14 miles northwest of Nevada City, CA. During peak season, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, parking costs $10 but drops to $5 the rest of the year. Additionally, the California State Park pass covers parking fees.

For those seeking free parking, explore the Cemetery parking lot or spots along Pleasant Valley Road. Just make sure to double-check the signs before leaving your car.

3. Emerald Pools

Emerald Pools, California

Emerald Pools is a popular location for hiking, walking, and swimming along the Yuba River.

Nestled along the scenic Yuba River, Emerald Pool beckons those seeking a refreshing dip. A brief quarter-mile stroll on a flat, well-trodden path leads eager swimmers to this aquatic gem. 

Leap off rugged rocks and immerse yourself in the refreshing, snow-fed, tranquil waters throughout the summer. The crisp, cool embrace of the river is perfect for scorching, sun-drenched days.

As the main pool bustles with activity, venture further up the river, exploring the enchanting mini gorges. The emerald hues genuinely shine here, casting a mesmerizing spell within the rocky ravines. Discover your beautiful paradise in one of the smaller, shallower pools, where little ones can frolic, splash, and twirl atop floaties in knee-deep water.

In the waning hours of the afternoon, return to the main pool for a final plunge and leisurely float. As the crowds disperse, savor the serenity of this great swimming hole. Located 25 miles northeast of Nevada City, Emerald Pools is an unforgettable experience waiting to be discovered.

Before the bridge, there is a small dirt lot and other parking spots along the road leading up to the trailhead. Be mindful of vigilant officers patrolling the area on busy days and issuing citations for any vehicles encroaching on the pavement.

4. Edwards Crossing

A hammock at the South Yuba Campground.

For those looking to extend their stay, the South Yuba Campground is only a few miles from Edwards Crossing.

Discover the enchanting Edwards Crossing, a hidden gem 8 miles northeast of Nevada City, CA. This captivating swimming hole is the perfect oasis for those seeking a refreshing escape.

As you approach this stunning spot, notice how the river widens, basking in the sun’s warm embrace. By day’s end, the water feels invitingly warm, as if nature had prepared a soothing bath for weary travelers.

Should you find the main area near the bridge bustling, fear not. Venture along rocky paths or meander through winding trails to uncover scenic sanctuaries waiting for you. With each step, allow the serene atmosphere to envelop your senses.

For those yearning to extend their stay, the South Yuba Campground lies a mere few miles from Edwards Crossing, offering cozy camping options close to your newfound paradise.

It would help to keep the parking constraints around the bridge in mind. Observe the signs prohibiting roadside parking, as ignoring them could result in a $70 fine.

Edwards Crossing is an idyllic swimming hole everyone should experience. Immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquility of this remarkable haven, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

5. Purdon Crossing

Unveil the magic of Purdon Crossing, an extraordinary Yuba River swimming hole located just 7 miles north of Nevada City. This hidden oasis invites you to indulge in its pristine waters and tranquil surroundings, making it a must-visit destination.

Set off the picturesque 3.5-mile out-and-back trail, meandering alongside the captivating Yuba River for the first ¾ mile. Along the way, you’ll encounter several inviting paths leading to the welcoming embrace of the river’s edge.

Immerse yourself in the fantastic charm of Purdon Crossing, where you can relax and unwind in nature’s splendor. Delight in the refreshing waters and let the gentle current rejuvenate your spirit.

A small parking lot is available before the bridge. Daytime parking along the road is permitted unless signs state otherwise. To ensure a spot, arrive early and embark on your memorable adventure.

6. South Yuba River State Park

South Yuba River State Park

South Yuba River State Park can be found along the South Fork of the Yuba River in California.

South Yuba River State Park is ideal for seeking a refreshing swimming hole adventure. Perfect for first-time visitors and families with young children, this park offers an easily accessible shoreline that resembles a proper beach, providing a flat terrain for effortless water entry.

Unlike other Yuba River swimming holes, where massive boulders dominate, South Yuba River State Park boasts an inviting landscape. The most sought-after swimming spot lies adjacent to the picturesque Bridgeport-covered bridge, an exquisite setting that enhances your experience.

While sandy shores are absent, the area is adorned with an array of rocks varying in size. This unique feature adds character to the swimming hole, making it stand out. 

Delight in the gentle, shallow waters, perfect for little ones to splash and play, creating unforgettable memories at this remarkable Yuba River swimming haven.

Tips for Visiting South Yuba River Swimming Holes for the First Time

As you embark on your maiden voyage to the mesmerizing South Yuba River swimming holes, prepare to be enthralled by nature’s beauty. To ensure a memorable and seamless experience, heed these crucial tips for first-time visitors.

  • Arrive early. You’ll enjoy tranquil moments in the pristine waters by beating the crowd. As the sun rises, watch the river shimmer, casting a golden glow on the surrounding landscape.
  • Pack wisely. Bring along essentials like sunscreen, insect repellent, and plenty of water. Sturdy water shoes are also recommended, as navigating the rocky terrain can be challenging. Remember your trusty camera to capture memories that will last a lifetime.
  • Safety comes first. Watch for potentially slippery rocks, and be cautious when diving into the water. Avoid swimming alone, and always let someone know your whereabouts. Furthermore, be mindful of the river’s current and never venture too far from the shore.
  • Respect the environment. Refrain from littering and leave the area as pristine as you find it. Embrace the mantra “leave no trace” and take all your belongings with you when you depart.
  • Explore beyond the popular spots. Venture off the beaten path and discover hidden gems that few have seen. With a sense of adventure and a curious spirit, you’re sure to find your little slice of paradise.

Yuba River Swimming Holes – Do’s & Don’ts

Do’s

  • Prioritize safety: Keep an eye on fellow swimmers, especially children, and consider wearing a life jacket for added security.
  • Enjoy camaraderie: Engage in friendly conversations with fellow swimmers, exchange tips on the best swimming spots, and create lasting memories together.
  • Savor the experience: Breathe in the fresh air, feel the sun’s warm embrace, and relish the refreshing sensation of the cool water against your skin. Immerse yourself in the rejuvenating respite that Yuba River’s swimming holes provide.
  • Follow posted signs and guidelines: Pay attention to any signs indicating specific rules or potential hazards in the area.

Don’ts

  • Disregard safety: Never underestimate the power of the river’s currents. Be vigilant when swimming. Remember that safety should be your top priority.
  • Be Irresponsible: Avoid littering and disturbing the natural environment.
  • Dive headfirst: Only dive into the water if you know the depth. Rocks and submerged objects can pose dangers.
  • Ignore weather conditions: Be aware of weather forecasts and warnings. Avoid swimming during storms or when the river levels are high.

Splashing into Serenity: Enchanting Yuba River Swimming Holes Await

Each Yuba River swimming hole is a unique adventure, from Emerald Pools’ tranquility to Hoyt’s Crossing’s thrilling rapids. Seasoned swimmers or casual splashers, these spots offer nature’s embrace and refreshing escapes.

So, grab your gear and dive into an unforgettable journey, uncovering Yuba River’s great swimming holes. With crystal-clear waters, lush havens, and diverse activities, you’ll be left in awe of California’s great outdoors. Whether you’re seeking a serene oasis or an adventurous plunge, the Yuba River swimming holes have something to offer for everyone. 

Summary of 6 Amazing Yuba River Swimming Holes

RankSwimming Hole
1South Yuba River State Park Hoyt Trail
2Bridgeport at South Yuba River State Park
3Emerald Pools
4Edwards Crossing
5Purdon Crossing
6South Yuba River State Park
Summary Table of 6 Amazing Yuba River Swimming Holes


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