Swimming Holes Near San Francisco
August 26, 2008 3:01 PM   Subscribe

Are there any good swimming holes in the San Francisco Bay Area or nearby? (Let's say, within a three hour drive.) I'd love to find some fresh water to swim in -- lakes, rivers, streams, something like that. Thanks for any suggestions! (And feel free to Mefi-mail me if you don't want to tell everyone your secret spot.)
posted by salvia to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Lake Anza
posted by ferdydurke at 3:22 PM on August 26, 2008

Sorry, also Lake Temescal
posted by ferdydurke at 3:24 PM on August 26, 2008

Best answer: Was just coming in to mention Lake Temscal. Here is the east bay parks list of swimming spots.. Here is also a list from weekend sherpa. Bass Lake on that list has always been on my list of things to do.
posted by Wolfie at 3:34 PM on August 26, 2008

Best answer: Russian River - Guerneville seems to be the traditional place to start out from.
posted by rtha at 3:36 PM on August 26, 2008

Best answer: Well three hours drive will get you darn near everywhere in the Sierra foothills. When I wore a younger mans shoes, I loved the North Fork of the American River, south of either Auburn (along I-80) or Colfax. My personal fave would be Steven's Trail in Colfax (about a 6 mile hike roundtrip - all downhill, 1000'+ canyon and vice versa - fyi) to the river with great views and wonderful pools.

If you ever decide to make the trip, welcome to my childhood, with the scent of Douglas Fir and California laurel (bay leaf) to guide you.
posted by elendil71 at 3:45 PM on August 26, 2008

Best answer: Lake Anza only allows swimming in its roped off area - and it is full of screaming kids most days. Lake Temescal is about 3 feet deep and muddy...I wouldn't put my feet in it. I recommend the reservoir at Del Valle Regional park - a good sized swimming area and the weather gets nice and hot over there. It's less than an hour from the East Bay.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:08 PM on August 26, 2008

Best answer: Second vote for the Russian River. Monte Rio beach can get crowed on weekends, but it's got a really old school beach flava that's quite fun. And, once you're done, you can unwind in a city that even San Franciscans think is pretty wierd.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 5:25 PM on August 26, 2008

Thirding the Russian River. I just got back from a weeks vacation with a little Big Sur camping and we stopped off for the day in Guerneville and took a dip in the Russian River. It was very nice. Not cold at all. Plenty of parking and a little current, but not too much.

Also, if you're into it, the town of Guerneville is very charming and we had a fun couple of hours poking our heads in all the different shops along the main drag (the 116 I think).
posted by AsRuinsAreToRome at 5:31 PM on August 26, 2008

Best answer: I like hiking the Coast Trail at Point Reyes to Bass Lake. It's best to take a floating thing of some sort, because it's a very steep drop off once you're in the water. I think it's about 6 miles there, which is perfect to get all hot and sweaty before you jump in. There's a little clearing with sun and shade, and everytime I've been there, a mix of naked and not-naked swimmers. Map link on this page, scroll south to find Bolinas, and Mesa road leads to a trailhead.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:21 PM on August 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 3 hrs one way? Rainbow pools just east of Groveland. In the pines, hot weather 90's, cool water and jumps off cliffs next to waterfalls. 2hrs one way Eagle rocks, 1st Tulloch lake exit off HWY 120
In the foothills hotter weather, rocks and a water tower for diving. These first two picks prove my theory that the country is great except for the people. Slack jawed hicks throwing trash bad tattoos bad teeth ugly children etc., but nature she's my lady. 1hr from SF Bass lake but, not on the weekend - no parking tons of people - weekdays cool weather cool water and you could be 3hrs from SF. Cannonball!!
posted by pianomover at 7:46 PM on August 26, 2008

Whiskeytown Lake, just east of Mt. Shasta. When I was there four years ago, there was a rope swing.
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:25 PM on August 26, 2008

Argh, just WEST of Shasta.
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:27 PM on August 26, 2008

Response by poster: I am loving all these answers -- I knew you guys would know great places! And I appreciate all the descriptions about the flavor of each place. Thanks!
posted by salvia at 9:32 PM on August 26, 2008

Best answer: Lake Anza ... after the life guards are off duty. Then you can dip your toes in on the far side of the lake.
posted by zippy at 11:27 PM on August 26, 2008

Best answer: When I was little, my family could spend the whole day at Shadow Cliffs regional park in Pleasanton. It's a little man-made lake but the's also fishing, small boat rentals, and BBQ pits. You can find out more at their website.
posted by sambosambo at 6:53 AM on August 27, 2008

Best answer: For a 2 hour drive, you could go to Blue Lakes, which is a short jog on highway 20 off of the 101. Specifically, go to this resort:

Le Trianon

Blue Lakes is a natural mountain lake, so the water is deep, cool, algae free, and delicious. The resort itself is very relaxed (for day use, I haven't tried staying at the cabins), and they rent canoes and paddle boats, have a general store, and even have a little restaurant and bar (with beer and corn dogs, this isn't fancy) with a porch overlooking the lake. The beach itself is wide and sandy, and there are trees for shade. Pretty much the perfect swimming hole for all day relaxation (because I am a wimp and need things like clean bathrooms and readily accessible bars for my swimming hole enjoyment).
posted by Wavelet at 8:42 AM on August 27, 2008

Best answer: The SF Guardian keeps track of nude beaches (mostly fresh water) in various counties here.
posted by bendy at 12:03 AM on August 28, 2008

Response by poster: Sorry for the excessive best-answering, but these are all great. I'm excited, thanks again, everyone. I think I might check one out tonight (it is so hot today).
posted by salvia at 7:20 PM on August 28, 2008

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