California’s Best Swimming Holes: McCloud Falls

Justin Briggs | Cliff JumpingCliff Jumping
Middle Falls McCloud swimming hole.

Fowler’s Camp Campground is a highly populated area that is home to some of the territory’s most notorious swimming holes on the McCloud River. My girlfriend and I had the pleasure of visiting Lower Falls and Middle Falls over the weekend.

Lower Falls McCloud swimming hole.
Lower Falls McCloud swimming hole.

First up, Lower Falls. Although this swimming hole was overrun by fishermen, this pool was very peaceful once they all left. Large rocks from 15′ to 25′ surrounded the pool allowed some nice cliff diving spots. You could either jump in from the waterfall or climb down the rocks on the other end that provides a gradual, beach-like entrance into the pool below.  The pool was seemingly vacant once the fishers left which provided the guests some more room to swim. Along with a pool, there was also a small cove under the tall rocks that acted as a shelf for people to sit and just dip their feet in the water.

McCloud swimming hole.
McCloud swimming hole.

Then, the cliff divers paradise, Middle Falls. This area was a magnificent place to view in the morning when nobody was there, but by early afternoon, eager campers came to swim and dive. The crowd clapping for all of the jumpers was a fun experience.

There are three main jumping spots here, a 35′ jump, a 50′ jump from the waterfall’s edge, and a 75′ monster that hangs over the 35′ jump.  The waterfall jump is a bit sketchy because there is no clear area to jump off because you have to clear a small gap of rocks protruding from the waterfall and the slippery rocks don’t help. Once I established I wasn’t going to risk the waterfall jump, I marched up to the 75′ jump with some other brave souls. If you’re afraid of heights like me, this isn’t the jump for you. The single diving board rock provides a clear jump that escalates the adrenaline as you leap from the beast’s edge. The pool is plenty deep to allow for daredevils like myself. Also, near the large waterfall, there is a small tub to relax in the water’s wake that not many people know about.

If you go to this campground, bring a camera. You won’t be disappointed.

(check out more California swimming hole adventures at Justin’s Instagram: @ brggsy)

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