Hike to the Garden of Eden Swimming Hole

San Francisco Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

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This is your new favorite spot for the times when you need a swim in Santa Cruz but don't feel like sporting a wetsuit. From the parking area, the river is a quick (but steep!) hike in. The hike is 10-15 minutes to the water. Add as much time as you want to rinse in the cool San Lorenzo waters.

Are the beaches of Santa Cruz too cold to swim in? Of course they are. But this swimming hole has your back. The Bay Area isn't blessed with a bounty of freely accessible, dog-friendly swimming holes. The Garden of Eden, just off Route 9 in the Henry Cowell Redwoods is one of them.

Park on the side of the road (arrive early to guarantee yourself a spot) and hike down the quick, steep trail to the water. The swimming hole known as "Garden of Eden" is clearly marked.

Looking for a more quiet adventure? Skip this more crowded spot and continue along to find your own cool, watery mecca. Feel free to bring your dog, but make sure Fido isn't scared of a little scramble...the descent isn't for the faint of heart.

Photos: PhotoInko

Pack List

  • Swim Suit & Towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Lunch and Beverages
  • Athletic shoes
  • A hammock (Optional, but why wouldn't you want to relax between some redwoods at the river's edge?)
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How to Get There

18 days ago

Dogs are NOT allowed at GoE

In reference to the article, this is NOT a dog friendly area. In fact, you can get cited for having your dog down there. Pack your trash out! If you can carry it down there when it's full, you can carry it back to your car empty. There is NO TRASH SERVICE there. No glass allowed. No alcohol allowed. Jumping from rocks NOT allowed. FYI, a medivac helicopter out of there costs about $30,000 & it happens more than you would think. Someone died there last year. Be careful. Don't be an asshole.

18 days ago

8 months ago

Ok, But Can Get Dooshy Real Quick

Easy hike, but gets very crowded on nice days. The day I went had lots of dooshy people. I'd skip the most popular hole and hike further upriver to find someplace quieter. This is by no means an unknown swimming hole: it's mobbed most weekend days. Can be relaxing but prepare for blasting music and loud drunk people unless you hike far away from the popular spot.

8 months ago

12 months ago

Amazing spot!

Garden of Eden is the perfect Northern California adventure! A nice hike through the lush forest, tip toeing around the railroad tracks, and ending at an awesome swimming hole. My advice is this: Don't go on a weekend if you want privacy. This is in no way a "secret spot" so you'll have people all over the beach. Try to go during the week and setup a hammock. You'll have the whole area virtually to yourself and you can swim to your hearts content.

12 months ago

about 1 year ago

Breathtaking swimming hole!

I really really liked this spot. My partner and I didn't take the trail that everyone takes to the swimming hole. We decided to take a different (difficult) shortcut to a more secluded area. Successfully made it down, it was beautiful. It was like we had our own mini beach to ourselves. Definitely recommend this hike. Next time I'll try the other trail around.

about 1 year ago

about 1 year ago

July 13, 2016

It was definitely a nice, little hike! Must be careful while walking along the train tracks since it's active. The swimming hole was crowded but it was pretty and I enjoyed myself ~

about 1 year ago

about 1 year ago

Amazing Experience

The trail to get to a secluded part of this trail is a bit hard to find, but you must make a left near the train tracks and follow the small path way and you will eventually go down near the lake .

about 1 year ago

almost 2 years ago

I went to UCSC so this was an easy and fun hike to do when I had some free time. The hike itself is beautiful and the Lorenzo is awesome to swim and relax in. I saw some crayfish in the river once, which my friend was terrified of for some reason, so that provided extra entertainment. The train tracks are also great for pictures!

almost 2 years ago

almost 4 years ago

I've done this hike, so I can't wait to get the toes wet

almost 4 years ago


Chillin, Swimming, Hiking

Skill Level:



Summer, Autumn



Dog Friendly

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