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Malibu Creek Rock Pool
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Tom P

Swimming holes near Los Angeles

Cool off in one of these scenic swimming holes this summer without straying too far from the L.A. area

By Michael Juliano

Want to cool off during the summer? Go to the beach. Not near the water? Try a public swimming pool. But what if you want to get wet and have an offroad adventure at the same time? That’s where swimming holes come in. Part day trip, part wilderness trek, these mountainous oases and things to do offer a cool dip in a scenic locale, oftentimes at the end of a waterfall hike. If you’re not afraid of a bit of walking and fecal bacteria—we’re only half joking—then reward yourself with a dip in one of these swimming holes near L.A.

A few notes before you head out: Water levels vary with the season and drought conditions; the warm summer weather unfortunately coincides with L.A.’s dryest stretch of the year, so be advised these swimming holes may be more like “wading holes.” If it does happen to rain, you may want to wait a few days before putting your toes in, lest you want to fool around with E. coli. Additionally, all of these swimming holes require moderate hikes to access them. Rocks are hard, slippery and unforgiving, so please stay on the trails and don’t climb onto or jump off of any boulders. 

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Five swimming holes near Los Angeles

Malibu Creek Rock Pool
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/TK

Malibu Creek Rock Pool

Just like the the astronaut trio in Planet of the Apes, Angelenos flock to this expansive swimming hole in Malibu Creek State Park to cool off during the summer. But unlike the sci-fi flick, this pool’s porous boulders are overflowing with sunbathers and thrill seekers. Is it scenic? Asbolutely. Crowded? Like you can’t believe.

Requires a 2.5-mile roundtrip hike. $12 parking at Malibu Creek lot (Park Entrance Rd) off Las Virgenes Rd. Free parking on Mulholland Hwy with additional mile roundtrip hike on Grasslands Trail.

Switzer Falls
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Sam W

Switzer Falls

One of Angeles National Forest’s largest and most accessible waterfalls brings large crowds along with it. But assuming the crowd levels are low and the water levels high, it’s an enjoyable destination, with additional pools along the trail both before and after the main falls.

Requires a 3-mile roundtrip hike. $5 parking with Adventure Pass at Switzer Picnic Area (Switzer Truck Trail), off of Hwy 2.

Cooper Canyon Falls
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Mickey H

Cooper Canyon Falls

Though it requires an extra 40 minutes in the car over Switzer Falls, the payoff at Cooper Canyon is worth it. You’ll pass through lush mountainous pine forests before scrambling down to this serene (and chilly) pool and its sopping waterfall.

Requires a 3-mile roundtrip hike. $5 parking with Adventure Pass near Buckhart Trail, off of Hwy 2.

Solstice Canyon
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Ben-Christopher D

Solstice Canyon

It’s easy to imagine yourself in a post-apocalyptic paradise while on this lovely Malibu hike that winds through the ruins of two properties. The waterfall in Solstice Canyon makes up for its modesty with a series of shaded natural pools that—though pint-sized and leafy—seem like they’re pulled straight from a storybook.

Requires a 2.5-mile roundtrip hike. Free (and crowded) parking at the end of Solstice Canyon Rd.

Hermit Falls
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Joshua C

Hermit Falls

The smooth, slate-colored boulders that surround this small Angeles National Forest pool and waterfall create a natural retreat. Though you may see swimmers treating the falls like a waterslide, we highly suggest keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground.

Requires a 2.5-mile roundtrip hike. $5 parking with Adventure Pass at Chantry Flat lot (Chantry Flat Rd).

Looking for more ways to explore the outdoors?

LA River
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

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