Swimming Holes Near Grass Valley and Nevada City
The South Yuba River is famous for its pristine swimming holes surrounded by smooth granite rocks. In the summer months, more advanced swimmers travel up the trails from Bridgeport, 49 Crossing, Purdon Crossing, and Edwards Crossing for sunning and swimming. Family Beach and Kneebone Beach at Bridgeport are ideal for families with children and picnicking.
Courtesy of John Cragen, Stories From the Road Less Traveled
Remember, the river current is extremely dangerous and cold much of the year when the river is high! Even in summer the current remains strong in certain locations. Always evaluate the river conditions before entering the water. Never jump into water if you don’t know what is underneath, and never dive. Life vests are highly recommended. Never swim alone.
The state park along the South Yuba River has several swimming holes along the way. To get here from SHANGRI-LA, continue on RT 49 northwest about 5 miles then turn west (left) on Pleasant Valley Rd. and go 7.5 miles to the South Yuba River S. P. Bridgeport Visitors Center near Bridgeport. Stop by the visitor center for a trail guide or to get other basic information about the park.
The famous wooden truss bridge is here and several trails up and down the river begin near this bridge. The Point Defiance Trail and Loop: From the parking area cross the bridge and turn immediately left downriver. The trail follows the river downstream where the river flows into Englebright Lake. The Cemetery Virginia Turnpike Loop Trail: A half hour gentle stroll with a great swim hole at the end. Follow signs from Visitor Center parking area. The short River Overlook Bridgeport trail goes below the visitor’s center and downstream a short distance to a Family Beach for swimming. The Kneebone Beach Trail goes upstream on the south side of the river to a scenic swimming hole outlined by granite rocks.
Beautiful hole with large flat rocks all around. Clothing optional. This is not a deep hole - maybe about 6-8 feet max. DO NOT DIVE HERE- there have been a number of injuries. There is also a few little tubs that have circulating water that acts like a hot tub. One falls steps down and the other braids together. You can actually go under the falls. There is an air space and plenty of room for about 3 people. Also at the top of the step down falls is a pot hole you can submerge into and go through a secret passage to the middle rock where you can come up. It is very neat.
To get here, set your odometer at the Middle Yuba Bridge and go a little under 1.0 mile north on RT 49 from the bridge over the Middle Yuba and park at a small turn off on the right side of the road (this turn off is not easy to find). Note that before the turn off there is a rusted guard rail with a white road marker that says YUB 49. That is the first marker you will see while driving. Next to this marker and closer to the parking place is a second white marker that has the number 101 on it. If you are in doubt, the road is marked here with the number 213'). There is a big dirt hump at the parking area you go over to get to the trail. Walk a short way (.25 miles) or less down a well-maintained trail to Oregon Creek and the swimming hole.
This beautiful canyon has swimming places upstream of Edwards Crossing. From Edwards Crossing continue on North Bloomfield Rd about 1 mile to the South Yuba Campground. Cross the bridge and drive about 3 miles to the South Yuba Campground exit. It is a dirt road that is in good condition, easily drivable by any car. The lower road goes to the campground and the upper to the parking area. Note that there are bathrooms located here.
From the campground, hike the South Yuba Trail south to the river then east along the river to North Canyon. The swimming holes are in North Canyon. The trail to the South Yuba trail is actually not labeled and is at the back of this parking lot. Follow this unmarked trail for about 0.5 miles until you reach a sign indicating the South Yuba Trail. There are no markers along the way, but this is the only trail down. After hiking a while you will reach the trail head. There is a big sign and it is obvious. Note at this sign that the South Yuba is to the left and goes up the slight incline. The canyon is very hot so carrying water is recommended. From the trail head it is about 2 miles to Overlook Point and then another 1 mile to the North Canyon Spur Trail (this trail leads down to the river with the switchbacks). There is a marker at the spur trail, but it is often slightly overgrown and doesn’t appear to be a trail. It is easy to miss, so note that is right across from the marker sign in North Canyon. The trail down to the canyon is about 0.4 miles. The hike distance is about 6-7 miles round trip.
Note: The river flow is strong in May and nearly non-existent in September, please plan accordingly.
There is a swimming hole under the Middle Yuba Bridge that is very popular. Many people go there since there are bathrooms and parking. To get here, continue north on RT 49 until you cross the bridge over the Middle Yuba River.
Where Spring Creek comes into the South Yuba, there is a small falls and nice swimming hole - bathing suits optional. Park at Edwards Crossing but avoid the crowds by hiking downstream on a trail along the north side of the river about a mile to the side creek and fall. The trail to "Spring Creek" is located on the north side of the bridge. It is easy to find and locate. The hike is about 1 mile to the creek and swimming holes. Here, and a bit further downstream, are the swimming places.
A very popular spot on the South Yuba. At the split of Rt 20 and Rt 49 in Nevada City make a sharp left. Drive for about 1/4 of a mile. North Bloomfield road is the second road on the right after Coyote Rd. Take North Bloomfield road for about 1 mile to the "T" in the road and bear right.
Follow North Bloomfield road for 8 miles to the South Yuba Recreation area and Edwards Crossing. The last mile of road to Edwards Crossing is very narrow and steep, so take it slow. It is much better to approach Edwards Crossing from the south side of the bridge. The road on the north side is not paved. Also, the parking is on the south side of the bridge and that is where the bathrooms are located. This place is right here under the bridge.
A very popular swimming place under the RT 49 bridge over the South Yuba River but a much quieter place a short way upstream. The place at the bridge is has boulders and swimming tunnels and slides that are absolutely exceptional and worth putting up with the crowd. To get here from Nevada City, take RT 49 Northwest to where it crosses over the South Yuba River. The main swimming hole is right here at the bridge with the other upstream. Hike about 1/3 mile upstream to a much quieter place which is the best spot for swimming and high jumping into emerald green water with only a few others around.
Click to enlarge the map below.