I love finding remote swimming holes. There’s nothing quite like hiking out to a pristine, beautiful pool and being able to take a dip (swimsuit optional) away from crowds with little concern that you’ll be discovered. A few summers back, my friend Megan and I started checking out the swimming spots from the book Day Trips with a Splash by Pancho Doll. This fall I rediscovered one of my favorite isolated spots again after my recent move to midtown Sacramento.
I first found an oasis when I was working my way through the spots in the “Motherlode” region of the Sierras in the book. It was through this process that I discovered the Berry Bramble swimming hole near Foresthill, out of Michigan Bluff. This is perhaps the most serene swimming hole I’ve encountered. It’s about 4.5 miles from where you park, and yet, I’ve never run into a single person.
The pool is long, narrow and lined with gorgeous quartz stripes through the granite. A small waterfall empties into the (rather cool) pool and the crystal clear water makes for an idyllic afternoon paradise. There’s also a lovely ledge in the upper pool that makes for a perfect bench to sit on and warm up, while enjoying the waterfall and solitude of the pool.
To get here, you take the Foresthill exit off of Interstate 80, and head East on Foresthill Road. You’ll turn right on Michigan Bluff road and go down through the old mining town of Michigan Bluff (staying right when the road forks) until the road dead ends, here you’ll find the Last Chance-Deadwood trailhead for the Western States trail. You’ll walk down what looks like a driveway and follow signs marked “WS” continuing East until you hit the first bridge at El Dorado Creek, about 4.0 miles in. Here you can either swim right in the pool at the base of the bridge, or head upstream (before you cross the bridge) on rocks for about 0.5 miles to get to my favorite pool with the waterfall.