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This Easy Trail In California Leads You To The Most Amazing Emerald Pools

California's Emerald Pools

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You don't have to travel all the way to the Caribbean to find turquoise water. The Golden State is full of surprises and there's an endless amount of places to explore. Did you know that there are natural pools of clear water in California you can swim in?

Whether you're a tried and true local or just passing through, this part of the South Yuba River is definitely a bucket list item you need to check off.

To get to the Emerald Pools, you'll need to take an easy 0.7-mile hike in the Tahoe National Forest. The elevation gain is only about 45 feet and it's good for all hiking skill levels.

Dogs are allowed on leash, so you can even bring your furry friend along if you'd like. Just make sure to keep them close by your side.

All throughout the path, you'll get to see beautiful glimpses of your reward in the distance. It's hard to miss the contrast of the bright turquoise water with the green forest trees.

Since the water is icy cold, we recommend visiting during the summer, so you can take a refreshing swim.

The waters are crystal clear and the riverbed is made of unique red rocks!

If you decide to take a dip in the icy waters, be sure to have a friend nearby and keep a watchful eye — water levels often change suddenly and there have been reports of injuries from people cliff jumping at this spot.

When you're done swimming, you can also opt to take a hike deeper into the valley gorge. A steep trek takes travelers along an unmarked trail through switchbacks and to the most incredible natural scenery.

Everywhere you look, nature will reward you. For those seeking an easy, off-the-beaten-path adventure, these Emerald Pools are sure to take your breath away.

Before you head out, make sure to pick up all your trash and leave no trace. This place is pristine, so let's keep it that way.

Happy travels!

Emerald Pools

Price: Free

Location: Emerald Pools Trail, Nevada City, CA

Why You Should Go: You can swim in amazing clear blue water pools.


Some guests have reported seeing water snakes.

Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

This article has been updated since it was originally published on February 4, 2020.

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