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Travel In California Includes Secret Emerald Swimming Pools & Waterfalls

Lake Tahoe is known for its crystal clear waters and lush forest surroundings. But did you know that there's a hidden trail that leads you to secret emerald pools you could have all to yourself? Travel in California has never been dreamier.

Whether you're a local or a visitor seeking hidden gems, this spot is one you need to add to your bucket list.

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This gorgeous trail in the Tahoe National Forest is located at the southern end of the Yuba River. Among the locals, it's known for crystal-clear emerald water and smooth granite coves.

To skip the crowds and access the pools when conditions are right, you should visit during late summer or early fall.

To get there, you'll follow the Emerald Pools Trail in Nevada City, California. This simple 0.7-mile hike is easy and you can even bring your dog. Just make sure to keep them on a leash.

Throughout your walk, you'll get to see glimpses of turquoise water in the distance and hear the soothing sounds of the flowing river. 

The contrast of the river with the dark forest leaves is stunning.

When you get there, you'll find plenty of places to spread your towel, enjoy a picnic, and lie under the warm sun. 

The water is cold and the current is strong in some parts of the river. Make sure you pick a spot to swim where the water is nice and calm.

To get to the mini gorge, you'll have to go a little further. Cross the narrow stream of water and access the trail on the other side of the pools.

A short walk will bring you to a grove of trees above the water. This is where you'll find the narrow rock area to swim. 

While you splash around, take a look below you. The water is so clear and the riverbed is full of rainbow-colored rocks!

If you want to explore a little more, you can climb up the rocky hill ahead to find multiple waterfalls.

Make sure to watch your footing and keep a good eye on the route — it's easy to get turned around.

You'll find all of the falls within a three-quarter-mile stretch of the river.

The middle and lower falls are the easiest to reach. When you spot a flat area with fire rings in the forest path, you'll know you're getting close.

All in all, if you're seeking an off-the-grid adventure, nothing is quite as rewarding as clear water and waterfalls. Happy travels! 

Emerald Pools Trail: Nevada City

Price: Free

Location: Emerald Pools Trail, Nevada City, CA 

Why You Should Go: You can swim in a mini gorge with waterfalls and crystal clear water.


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.