We in Southern California pride ourselves on being super outdoorsy in the sense that we love going swimming at the beach and we love going hiking and we like retreating to Palm Springs or Big Bear to get a little R&R in nature. No other place in the country can you be so immersed in a city while so immersed in the outdoors. There is this wonderful disconnect in your brain surrounding this nature connection, which undoubtedly is one of the reasons why you love it here. We got a cool little e-mail from Jeff Edwards, one of the guys behind Los Angeles Swimmin, which is kind of punk-rock collective that celebrate and explore the nearby outdoors. They have a neat Kickstarter project and wanted to share their top give best cliffs jumping spots in the area.
Jeff and Los Aneles Swimmin are hoping to raise six thousand dollars to fund a book project they are working on that will document swimming holes and jumping spots in Southern California, equipped with driving directions, photographs, trail descriptions, and everything else you need to get there. The book is currently aptly titled The Comprehensive Guide To Cliff Jumping In California and will surely be something that we would all use. Don’t believe me? I’ll let Jeff convince you with a taste of what to expect from the book and get you craving winter’s end…
Okay: so people ask me all the time, “Jeff, where is the best place to cliff jump in Southern California?” I’m always like, “Uhhhhhhh, ummmm give me a sec.”
It is not an easy question to answer. My criteria for a good cliff jumping spot is high cliffs, deep pools, warm(ish) water, easy hike and simple drive. That being said, here are the 5 best cliff jumping spots in Southern California.
5. Matilija Falls
An hour and a half drive from Downtown Los Angeles, Matilija Falls lies along Matilija Creek, a tributary to the Venutra River. You park in the dirt parking area at the end of North Matilija road in Ojai, then hike 5 miles along the creek to the falls. There are many places to cliff jump along the creek, but the best spot is the pool above the falls. Traverse the rope along the right side of the falls to get to the swimming hole. Cliff heights range from 15 feet to 50. Water depth can be shallow after rainy seasons because debris gets washed into the swimming hole. The water flows year round but the best time to visit is late Spring and early Fall because of sun exposure due to lack of shade along the trail.
4. Hermit Falls
A half hour drive from Downtown LA in Arcadia lies the trailhead to Hermit Falls. You’ll have to pay a 5 dollar fee to park at Chantry Flats in the Angeles National Forest. Descend the shaded trail down to the creek bed. Keep your eyes open for signs to the falls. After two miles you will get to the swimming hole above the falls. Set your towels and coolers down here. There is another swimming hole at the bottom of the falls but you will need to descend via rope along the right side of the falls. Upper pool jumps range from 10-30 feet. The jump to the lower pool is 40 feet. Water flows year round here but can get pretty cold: the best time to visit is midsummer, when temperatures are the hottest.
3. Aztec Falls
About 2 hours from Downtown in Lake Arrowhead along the Pacific Crest Trail is Aztec Falls. You park at the end of Hook Creek road and hike 2 miles along Deep Creek to a trail spur that leads down to the top of the falls. Jumps range from 15-60 feet. Water flows year round but is shriveling cold so the best time to visit is midsummer.
2. Malibu Creek Rock Pools
One hour from Downtown LA in Malibu Creek State Park is the Rock Pools. Pay the attendant and park at the far end of the parking lot. Look for the map with the route to the Rock Pools. After a mile hike you will get to the swimming hole. There are two main jump spots on both sides of the creek with cliffs ranging from 20 to 70 feet. Water gets stagnant around the end of Summer so your best bet is to go during late Spring.
1. Tar Creek Falls
About a 2 hour drive from Downtown Los Angeles is the best cliff jumping spot in Southern California, Tar Creek Falls. Tar Creek is a tributary to the Sespe River and flows through the Condor Sanctuary near Fillmore. Park at the trailhead and hike 2 miles and descend 1500 feet in elevation to the creek, follow it downstream for 1/2 mile to Upper Tar Creek Falls. Here you will find 3 pools with jumps ranging from 15 to 25 feet. Hike another 1/2 mile downstream to the top of Tar Creek Falls. The falls measure 70+ feet, jump if you dare. To get to the smaller ledges hike along the right side of the falls then follow the deer trail to the pool below. Jumps measure 10-20 feet. Tar Creek dries up before Summer’s end, so best time to visit is Spring.
Remember to always check water depth before you jump. Even if you have been there before, check for rocks, trees and other submerged objects. Be cautious and live to jump another day!
Sounds great, right? Totally great. If you like this, you’d love the book and should support their project. We’ll definitely be trying to hit these up and will be backing it–and so should you.