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Sierra Swimming Holes

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Re: Sierra Swimming Holes

Postby hurricaniac » Wed May 21, 2014 8:38 am

The Middle Fork of the Kaweah has a fun, warm, popular spot just upstream of the confluence with the Marble Fork. The turnout/parking area is south of the intersection for the Potwisha campground. A well-marked trail leads to a footbridge across the river. In July/Aug you'll have lots of company.

But it's a cool squirt-ride where you jump into a pothole and the river shoots you out over a slide into the bigger pool. Great reward after your high-country hike!
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Re: Sierra Swimming Holes

Postby BSquared » Wed May 21, 2014 6:01 pm

overheadx2 wrote:I've been to many of the hot springs in the sierras, and am usually not much of a fan of the mucky, dirty springs. The Kern is nice but very small and had a few folks there when I was there. The best swimming hole was the Iva Bell Hot springs. Since there are many granite tubs, we had our own granite tub close to our campsite. No mud on the bottom, no mosquitoes due to the hot water. We sat in the tub under the stars next to our campsite with a glass of scotch we had brought along just for that occasion.Woke up the next day had a cup of coffee in the hot tub before heading out.

So where the h*ll exactly IS Iva Bell? When we did the JMT a number of years ago, we took the detour through Fish Valley from Reds Meadows expressly to visit the hotsprings, and I found some warm-ish streams but despite trekking all over the place one afternoon and the morning on the way out, we never did find anything definitive. Lots of elaborate camps (horse campers, presumably), but no nice granite tubs. How could we have missed it?
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Re: Sierra Swimming Holes

Postby paul » Wed May 21, 2014 8:11 pm

In the basin upstream from Twin Island Lakes, right next to the largest of the various lakes up there, we found a tarn that was the perfect lounging pool. Just the right depth for sitting in, just the perfect temperature to be refreshing but warm enough to stay in a while; smooth rock bottom for comfort. If you took a dip in the main lake, then hopped in the tarn, it felt downright warm.
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Re: Sierra Swimming Holes

Postby overheadx2 » Wed May 21, 2014 8:58 pm

Coming from fish creek, as you come down the ridge into fish valley from fish creek you see a number of campsites surrounding a very soggy marshy area right before you cross the stream in the trail to fox meadow. If you walk across that bog 10 to 20 yards, you will see a rock pool here and there. When we went, there were trails through the bog. The pools were dispersed up the hill here and there. The higher you went, the hotter they were. There were a few really good ones up the hill with campsites very close. If you you tube it, you can see video of the place. When I go some where like that I often you tube it so I get a better idea of what I am looking for and any specific features to look for to find the hot springs.
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Re: Sierra Swimming Holes

Postby tim » Thu May 22, 2014 8:09 am

BSquared wrote:So where the h*ll exactly IS Iva Bell? When we did the JMT a number of years ago, we took the detour through Fish Valley from Reds Meadows expressly to visit the hotsprings, and I found some warm-ish streams but despite trekking all over the place one afternoon and the morning on the way out, we never did find anything definitive. Lots of elaborate camps (horse campers, presumably), but no nice granite tubs. How could we have missed it?


Coming up from Island Crossing, you go across the log bridge over the side stream coming down from Lost Keys Lakes then you come into an open meadow/hillside with a strong smell of sulphur. There are faint paths going up that hillside, but its hard to find anything and the pools are much further up than you think (we went this way and were pretty fed up by the time we found the pools).

The trick is to go across the meadow on the main trail that would eventually take you over to Second Crossing, and then as soon as you go back into the trees, you cross a very small stream. There is an obvious side trail going up the hillside alongside that stream. After 100-200 yards or so it goes back across the stream and comes out at a very nice campsite under a big tree (probably the "elaborate camp" you found. The main pool (in my photo above) is level with the campsite following a clear use trail back across a flatter part of the open hillside (say 50 yards from the campsite). The other pools are higher up the hill.
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Re: Sierra Swimming Holes

Postby bravefanla » Thu May 22, 2014 2:56 pm

Tom H,
I think I know where your 'secret site' is because it sounds like a place I know of on Bubbs Creek. Throw me a bone if I'm on the right creek.
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Re: Sierra Swimming Holes

Postby creekfeet » Sun Nov 16, 2014 11:07 pm

You can't go wrong swimming in any alpine lake. My favorites are the ones around Mt. Silliman. Silliman and Crescent Lake both have 20+ ft. jumps. Many creeks and rivers have good spots for a dip as well. Stony Creek has a legendary water slide, and there are nice pools below the slide as well. The Marble Fork is a classic swimming river. The lower part has many easy to get to spots, and the upper has all kinds of gems that are very tricky to get to. In fact, many of the upper swimming holes are pretty unsafe unless there's a drought. Same goes for South Fork Kings. Plenty of good spots on the way to Mist Falls, but super dangerous in high water. Clover Creek above Wuksachi has endless slides and jacuzzi sized holes. The water there is consistently warm, and there's plenty of hot, flat granite to bask on. And of course, the Kern Hot Springs are tough to top.
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Re: Sierra Swimming Holes

Postby maverick » Mon Nov 17, 2014 9:59 am

Hi Creekfeet,

Welcome to HST! Thanks for the input. :thumbsup:
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Sierra Swimming Holes

Postby Cross Country » Mon Nov 17, 2014 10:31 am

I agree with SSSdave and markskor. The water is too cold for "swimming". I got in the water MANY times but not to swim. I like to rinse off. My favorite "activity" was water sliding. I know I've posted water sliding by Mike, my nephew Steve, and me, years ago. I had to swim out of at least one of those water slide water falls - the one in middle Paradise Vally. That's as close to swimming as I ever got. Everyone should do the one in Paradise. It's a serious rush and not dangerous (although it looks like it could be dangerous).
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Re: Sierra Swimming Holes

Postby markskor » Mon Nov 17, 2014 11:14 am

Nobody has mentioned Benson - ~8,000 feet elev - (northern Yosemite) for its wide white-sand beach.
Because of this, AKA as the Riveria of the Sierra.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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