By Marie Caballero Uhtoff
Standing on the rock looking down into the incredibly blue mountain lake we had just hiked into in the Marble Mountain Wilderness, I hesitated to jump knowing how cold that melted, snow-fed water would be– but on a hot summer day, water is irresistible. I held my breath and took the leap. Once in, that take-your-breath-away cold mountain water and the deep blue sky above tells me, “Ahhh, summer…” Nothing feels quite like summer as a dip in a beautiful, natural swimming hole.
The summer heat is searing and it is time to hit the refreshing swimming holes in Southern Oregon and Northern California. Stop by the Northwest Nature Shop and, whether you just want to take the kids for a close-by refreshing dunk or hike into a cool mountain lake, we’ll point you in the right direction.
Here are a few favorites:
Ashland Creek Reservoir: This is where we go after work or just when we need to cool off and can’t go far from town. The water is very cold, but, hey, it’s August, it feels good! It is fun to explore up the creek from the reservoir too. The kids like to take nets from the Nature Shop and try to catch fish. Ride your bike up though Lithia Park and you’ll really be ready to jump in, or drive and park above the swimming reservoir off Granite St.
Middle Fork Applegate Trail: Deep, emerald swimming holes invite along this beautiful trail. From Ruch, take Upper Applegate Road towards the Applegate Lake. Pass the lake, go over the bridge, and turn left at the T junction onto Applegate Rd for 1.2 miles, then right on gravel road 1040 for 5.1 miles. At junction, go straight on Road 1035 and you’ll see the trailhead on the left.
Squaw Lakes: Sparkling clear, green water surrounded by pines and willows, with rope swings and beaches, make Squaw Lake a swimming favorite. From Ruch take Upper Applegate Rd to Applegate Lake. Turn left over the dam. Follow the road approx 10 miles to large parking area.
Illinois River: Make the trip out here and you’ll be rewarded with sandy beaches, deep green swimmable pools and jumping rocks. From Grants Pass, go South on 199 towards the coast for 20 miles to Selma. Turn right on Illinois River Rd 4.3 miles to the first of 3 beaches.
Hyatt Lake: A picturesque mountain lake just 40 minutes from Ashland. With a sandy swimming beach, a playground, picnic tables and a resort that offers ice cream and pizza, you can’t go wrong taking the trip up there on a hot summer day. Go on Hwy 66 towards Emigrant Lake, continue past and go 15 miles until you reach the Green Springs Inn. Turn left onto East Hyatt Lake Road. Go 3 miles until you reach Hyatt Lake.
Please be safe while you’re enjoying Southern Oregon’s swimming spots! The Northwest Nature Shop is a family owned nature store that helps adults and children learn about nature and science, including field guides, hiking and biking trail maps, bird feeding products, toys, and gifts for the home and garden. Our store is a fun place to visit. Come and visit us and share your recent adventures!