Hike to the Garden of Eden Swimming Hole

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

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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Activities Chillin, Swimming, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Summer, Autumn
Features
Dog Friendly
Forest
River

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Pretty and Relaxing Location

Can get crowded on weekends with people enjoying themselves, but still a wonderful spot that involves an adventure to reach.

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.

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.


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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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