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Secret Swimming Holes

Searching for swimming holes has a certain nostalgic feel about it. Before swimming pools were common and in areas where there weren't many beaches, kids had to go to a wide spot in a stream, or to an old rock quarry to swim. Maybe you did this as a child. These spots are still out there, and are not just for the kids.

Looking for a Swimming Hole

When we moved from Arizona to Canon City (pronounced canyon) here in Colorado, we were looking forward to having water around. At the closing on our house, one of the real estate agents told us about a swimming hole he had been to, and even drew us a small map. It wasn't more than a week before we went looking for it.

We followed highway 50 west out of town, to highway 9. North on nine we came Road # 11, and consulting our hand-drawn map, we took a right. Fifteen minutes later we came to the turnoff to Cripple Creek. We passed this, and a couple miles further we came over a hill. Just as our directions said, there was a parking area on the left, with a sign that had the various BLM regulations posted for the area.

Across the road a small trail started down a canyon. It was beautiful, with large cliffs on both sides, and flowers everywhere. The stream, however, was very small, so we wondered if it could really produce any decent swimming holes. A mile down the trail we got our answer.

We saw the kids before we saw the swimming hole. There were about a dozen young men and women, aged 16 to 22, sitting on rocks and grass and all looking in one direction. Following their gaze we looked in time to see one of them jump off a cliff and splash into a pool of water that was about 40 feet across.

I had to try it. I climbed the hill above and crossed over to the rocks. There was a rope to help me descend the last part. I arrived on a low part of the cliff, just fifteen feet above the water. The deep, and therefore safe, part of the hole was probably only seven or eight feet across, so you have to jump with some accuracy. After staring down at the water for a minute or more, one of the locals decided that I could go first. I jumped quickly.

The water was deliciously cold. Afterwards I sat with Ana and we watched some of the crazier stunts. Two of the young men actually jumped off a sixty-five foot cliff on the other side of the swimming hole. This was almost too nerve-wracking to watch, so we walked down the stream and watched the trout scattering. It was a wonderful hike.

Secret Swimming Hole near Canon City Colorado
Secret Swimming Hole near Canon City, Colorado

Finding Swimming Holes

To find these secret spots, ask locals. You can also buy county map books for the states you'll be in, and look for little ponds and lakes that have only trails going to them. Also watch for anyplace that cars are parked on the weekends especially. If you see people in shorts going off into the woods with a large cooler and a towel, as we did, you can be sure they aren't just hiking. In the end, it is a lot of fun just doing the exploring, even if you don't find any swimming holes.

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