Five Yuba River swimming holes to beat the summer heat in western Nevada County
Editor’s note: This is a list compiled a few year’s back, by a former intern and Nevada County native, that has become popular on TheUnion.com during the summer season.
As hot summer days continue, with the thermometer predicted to be pushed toward triple digits this weekend, few summer pursuits are as enjoyable for Nevada County residents and visitors as a day out on the Yuba River.
And there is ample opportunity to do so, with numerous swimming holes all along the river just waiting to be visited.
One of the more popular swimming spots along the South Yuba, Bridgeport features the famous covered bridge as well as two easily accessible beaches and a visitor’s center. These amenities make Bridgeport ideal for new visitors to the area or people looking for a gentler or more family-oriented river experience.
One of the biggest draws is the covered bridge, the longest single-span covered bridge in the nation, which was originally built in 1862 and represents significant history of Nevada County and the Yuba River. The bridge has been closed due to needed repairs since 2012.
The beach directly under the covered bridge is best for those families with younger children as the water is more shallow and the current not as swift as other stretches, although Kneebone Beach on the other side of Pleasant Valley Road is also an ideal spot for families and tourists alike with some deeper pools and granite rocks.
How to get there: Ten miles west of Grass Valley along Highway 20, turn right at stoplight onto Pleasant Valley Road. Proceed for eight miles to Bridgeport South Yuba River State Park and Visitor Center.
Highway 49 bridge
Another hugely popular river destination is the Highway 49 crossing, which features some of the most frequented swimming holes and beaches. The old Highway 49 bridge, which was first constructed in 1921, offers a stunning view both up and downstream.
This location allows for a range of activities, with family friendly beaches located just under the bridge and numerous locations upstream. Hoyt’s Crossing, approximately a mile upstream from the trailhead at the north end of the bridge, is one of the most well liked spots for both locals and tourists, with a large swimming pool and ample beach room. Along the way up the trail there are several different offshoots leading down to the large granite river rocks along the river, perfect for a quick swim or a long sun bath.
How to get there: Travel seven miles north of Nevada City on Highway 49. Park on south side of river at designated parking area adjacent to the old cement arched bridge.
For those wanting a more secluded river experience, Jones Bar is an excellent choice, but be sure to have a car with four-wheel drive for the trip as the dirt road leading to the location is pretty rough. The Independence Trail provides access to Jones Bar as well, but be wary that the hike is quite steep.
The rustic setting is perfect for everything from reading a book to swimming with friends, with three lovely green pools to choose from along the route.
How to get there: The dirt road is recommended only for four-wheel drive vehicles. Take Newtown Road off Bitney Springs. Turn onto Jones Bar and follow until the road branches. Follow the dirt road just past the post office boxes that leads downhill. To take the Independence Trail. Six miles north of Nevada City along Highway 49 park at Independence Trail parking. Hike west on trail for a half-mile then follow the small foot path (Jones Bar trail) as it drops to the right. This route is very steep.
The Yuba River is home to several very old but still in use bridges, just one aspect of the rich history that defines the river and the community that surrounds it. One such bridge is the Purdon Crossing Bridge, built in 1895, which is a gateway to some of the river’s most beautiful swimming holes and stunning sights. The crossing has become far more popular in recent years, so it is advisable to plan accordingly for the ensuing traffic near the bridge. However, there is parking just before the bridge and a short trip upstream from either of the two trails originating there will lead visitors to ample pools and peaceful scenery.
How to get there: Follow North Bloomfield Road north after turning off Highway 49 at the stoplight. Travel a half mile then turn left on Purdon-Lake Vera Road and continue along even after the road turns to gravel and begins to drop steeply into a canyon.
One of the most popular spots among the local crowd is Edward’s Crossing, though visitors should be wary of the sometimes fairly technical trails that wind along the river. The spot is very popular with the youth of Nevada County, as most anyone who grew up locally has a story or two from the secluded pools and swarms of ladybugs that adorn the location.
How to get there: Take the same route as Purdon but continue on North Bloomfield rather then taking Lake Vera Road. Follow the paved but steep road down to the river. Parking is limited.
— Portions of this story were previously published by The Union.
Kael Newton is University of Oregon student and an intern with The Union. Contact him at 530-477-4234 or at NCPCIntern@theunion.com.
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