Monday, August 24, 2015

Santa Cruz Swimhole

Ever since our trip to a swimhole along the American River in Auburn, I have had this mild obsession with finding more swimholes. There is just something that is so appealing about them. The water tends to be clearer than the ocean and there's usually no sand, which is a bonus for me! There is also a sense of adventure that comes along with hiking to a remote location and having a little piece of nature all to yourself.

A few weeks ago we headed down to Santa Cruz to spend the afternoon in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. The entrance to the park is only a few miles from downtown, so we made a quick stop to fuel up at Verve Coffee, Santa Cruz's local third-wave coffee roaster. And since us adults were getting a treat, it seemed only fair to let the girls indulge in a scoop of ice cream from The Penny Ice Creamery.

With our sugar/caffeine highs in full effect we headed down the road for our days adventure. Unlike a lot of state parks, there was plenty of free parking along the road, which was a nice bonus. We parked just past the first parking lot and started making our way down the only marked path in site. We really had no idea where we were headed, only that we were supposed to cross over some railroad tracks and eventually we would find ourselves on the San Lorenzo River.

The trail down to the river was wide and relatively gradual (safe for our 2 and 4 year old). Every time we visit this area I am blown away by how beautiful everything is! Just minutes from the charming downtown area and we were hiking through a redwood forest!

At the bottom of the canyon the trail begins to run alongside the San Lorenzo River and there are clear paths that take you down to the water. It seems like every 100 yards or so there was another opportunity to cut down to a small opening where you could settle in for the day. We found a nice spot with a small patch of sand and had a picnic lunch before hopping in the water.


There really is something extra fun about splashing around in a river. It was so peaceful wading around in the water with the kids and looking up at the surrounding canyon walls covered in trees. There were probably dozens of other groups along the river that day, but it felt like we were the only ones there.

Where are you favorite swimming spots in Northern California?

Looking for more to do while in Santa Cruz? Check out this post on Westside Santa Cruz. Beer Bonus - Discretion Brewing in nearby Soquel is a family friendly place to grab a beer and some snacks.

Details: Santa Cruz is about an hour and a half from Berkeley. Coffee at Verve: ~$3, Ice Cream at Penny Ice Creamery: ~$3, parking at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park: free

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