The Best Swimming Holes For Cliff Jumping In Southern California

Malibu Creek Rock Pools – Calabasas

Malibu Rock Creek Pool(source: James OBrien II-flickr)

Distance from downtown LA: 1 hour
Hiking distance: 1 mile
Cliff height: 20-70 ft.

This is a famous swimming hole in Los Angeles where many films and telivision shows were shot, including Planet of the Apes, MASH, and some Tarzan movies. At the parking lot, there is a map that shows the route to the Rock Pools. There are two main diving spots with heights ranging 20-70 ft and depths of around 8-12 ft. Best time to go is late spring as the water gets stagnant around late summer.

Hermit Falls – Arcadia

hermit falls california

Distance from downtown LA: 30 min.
Hiking distance: 1/2 mile
Cliff height: 10-40 ft.

This swimming hole can become a little bit of a party spot on the weekends during the summer, as you’ll see with the trash and the graffiti. Nevertheless, some good cliff-diving can be had with cliff heights of up to 40 ft. The water at Hermit Falls flows year round but its also cold, so the best time to go is summer when the temperatures are the hottest.

Matilija Falls – Ojai

matilija falls(source: planetrambler)

Distance from downtown LA: 1.5 hours
Hiking distance: 5 miles
Cliff height: 15-50 ft.

Hike up the picturesque Matilija Creek and you’ll come across multiple swimming holes, ponds, and waterfalls. The best spot is the pool above the falls where cliff heights range from 15 to 50 ft. The water flows year round at this spot but the water can be shallow after rain as debris gets washed into the swimming hole.

Aztec Falls – Lake Arrowhead

aztec falls(source: sandiegozx2-flickr)

Distance from downtown LA: 2 hours
Hiking distance: 15 min.
Cliff height: 15-60 ft.

A short hike along the Pacific Crest Trail leads you to Aztec Falls. It’s a good place to sunbathe on the poolside stone slabs or jump off the cliffs which range in height from 5 ft to 60 ft. As always, make sure to check if the water is deep enough before you jump.

Gilligan’s Island (aka The Mound) – Lake Arrowhead

cliff jumping deepcreek(source:

Distance from downtown LA: 2 hours
Hiking distance: 2.5 miles
Cliff height: 10-70 ft.

Just downstream from Aztec Falls in Deep Creek is Gilligan’s Island, also known as the Mound. The water at this spot is really deep (10+ ft.) and cliff heights can go up to 70 feet, so you can do some good solid dives here. Just make sure to keep this place clean and free from trash.

Tar Creek Falls – Fillmore

tar creek

(source: jdmuth-flickr)

Distance from downtown LA: 2 hours
Hiking distance: 3 miles
Cliff height: 15-70+

Upper Tar Creek Falls has 3 pools with cliff heights ranging from 15 to 25 feet. Go downstream to Tar Creek Falls where the jumps are 70+ feet at the top or you can descend down to the pool below the falls where you can find ledges that are 10-20 feet in height. The best time to go is during the spring before Tar Creek dries up in the summer. Update: Tar Creek is now permanently closed to the public.


Note: Always check if the water is deep enough before you jump. People have died because they didn’t think about checking the water depths before diving off some 40 foot cliff. And don’t be the litterbug who leaves their trash and ruins it for everyone else; leave nothing but footprints. Pack it in, pack it out, stay safe and have fun đŸ™‚


For a great guide to swimming holes in California, pick up a copy of Swimming Holes of California by Poncho Doll