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 secret natural pools of clear water in California you can swim in?

Whether you're a tried and true local or just passing through, this hidden gem is definitely a bucket list item you need to check off ASAP.

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 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 summer, so you can take a refreshing swim. 

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

It's the perfect spot to lounge on the rocks and have a picnic or snap a million dream vacation selfies with your bestie. 

When you're done swimming, you can also opt to take a hike deeper into the valley gorge. A steep 2-mile 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.

While you're visiting, you might also want to explore this purple sand beach near Big Sur.

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. Chances are, you'll get it all to yourself.


Editor's Note: Some guests have reported seeing water snakes. It is important to be cautious and respect wildlife and the environment during your visit. 

We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.

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