South Yuba River Swimming Holes

South Yuba River Swimming Holes, Lemke's Lagoon, photos by Erin Thiem

South Yuba River
Swimming holes on the South Yuba River are a major attraction in Nevada City at this time of the year.  A few weeks ago some guests from England stayed at the motel and had a copy Timothy Joyce’s book “Swimming Holes of Ca” and wanted better directions to Lemke’s Lagoon.  I decided shortly after their visit to venture upstream from 49 Crossing to have a look for myself.  My first bit of advice would be that while the book calls the hike “easy to moderate” that my description would be moderate to difficult and not appropriate for small children.  The other important detail is that there are very few places to easily get in and out of the river, so be aware of your surroundings before you get into the river.  Lots of people stop by the Outside Inn for directions to the South Yuba River State Park, we happily give them directions to the various bridge crossing, but often explain to folks that it’s a choose your own adventure in terms of where to go swimming.  With every conversation we encourage both locals and visitors to pack it in and pack it out and if you’re interested in volunteering for the SYRCL River Ambassador program, click here for more information.  And for all those folks out-of-town who keep asking if there’s any water left in the river, the answer is yes.  For a list of other blog posts on places to swim, click here for our outdoor activities page.  And while out hiking along the South Yuba River I took along a new Outside Inn/Inn Town Campground water bottle, post a comment on this blog post and I’ve got one to give away (and I’ll happily mail it if you’re not local).

And the winner of the tickets to Sierra Stages production of The Producers is Kamryn.  South Yuba River Swimming hole South Yuba River Swimming Holes

Outside Inn water bottle

© 2015 InnSide Nevada City, Photo by Erin Thiem

23 replies
  1. Bill Gunning
    Bill Gunning says:

    The rivers are all very low. Don’t dive into untested pools where you might have when water levels were higher.

  2. PeteK
    PeteK says:

    Wow that’s a big water bottle! Does it come with a Sherpa rental to help get it in and out of the canyon?

  3. Ingrid Knox
    Ingrid Knox says:

    Thanks for the update on water. We love going in the middle of the week when there are fewer people, especially if we can get the grandkids to come up from Roseville. BTW, I can really use the water bottle as I lost mine at the 1st Friday Art Walk a couple if weeks ago… 🙂

  4. Christy
    Christy says:

    I’m asking as a parent of 2 that when you do come to visit our rivers please remember this is not Colorado.. Smoking pot is not legal and parts of the river may be more appropriate than others.. If you are surrounded by children ( 49er crossing) this is not the place to smoke or get naked. I grew up on this river and for the first time ever will not be bringing out of town guests here. I did not feel safe, and worried about the “state” of drivers on that curvy road. Very sad and frustrating as a native Grass Valley person to see how much has changed here.

  5. Rosanne Stratigakes
    Rosanne Stratigakes says:

    Erin-I love your pics of South Yuba River and I feel somewhat protective-mixed about seeing them on the internet. You capture the beauty of the river wonderfully. I like how you mention pack it in-pack it out.

    • erin
      erin says:

      Thanks Rosanne, I understand completely your perspective, we are all a little protective of the Yuba, especially when you see some of the garbage down there. But I think educate our youth and take responsibility it will help future generations. I don’t recommend you search Instagram for the #southyubariver as they are currently 1200 pictures. But I can say that the guests we get, year after year, who stay at the Outside Inn and enjoy the river love it as much as I do and treat it with respect.

    • Jenn
      Jenn says:

      Hi Rosanne, we are all indeed a bit protective of the Yuba. For me, it’s not that I don’t want others to enjoy the beauty of the Yuba River, it’s that I feel disheartened when other folks don’t treat her with care. The South Yuba River Citizens League has a river-education program for visitors called River Ambassadors where we promote responsible recreation and encourage a Leave No Trace ethic. Like Erin, we believe one on one conversations and education to be an effective way to reach people. We are also gearing up for the Yuba River Cleanup on the 19th of September. We would love for you to join us!

  6. Erica J Rewey
    Erica J Rewey says:

    Definitely one of my favorite memories with you and the boys from last summer! Hoping for a repeat in June of 2016!!

    • erin
      erin says:

      It’s a date! Favorite line from that river trip after all that whining and complaining on behalf of my darlings, I huge grin from Ben’s face, “Okay mom, this was worth it” as he swam in the swimming hole with glee.

  7. Michael
    Michael says:

    Thanks for the heads up on the water conditions. We will be headed up to the Inn soon.
    Very Cool Bottle

  8. Diane Richards
    Diane Richards says:

    The South Yuba River is breathless. You do an incredible job, Erin, in capturing her beauty.

    I know the more known and popular a location becomes, the more littered she becomes. But if we don’t educate folks with first hand experiences, when corporations and developers what to come in and pave paradise, we need to have people to speak on behalf of our raw, natural open spaces and why we need to keep Mother Nature the way she is for future generations.

    Would love to be a proud owner of an Outside Inn/Inn Town Campground water bottle for my hiking adventures out an about Nevada County and beyond 🙂

  9. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    Erin – we are heading up to the area this weekend and love the Yuba but were concerned there would not be any good swimming or jumping spots due to the low water this year and this late in the year. Any suggestions? Are their places that are usually too high but due to water levels are more usable?
    and as a side note we have nothing but huge metal water bottles to bring along…and take back home with us.

    • erin
      erin says:

      Greetings– plenty of water to go swimming! It’s really a choose-your-own-adventure kind of thing, pick a bridge and go from there. Have fun, glad to hear you’ve got metal water bottles.

  10. Randi Pratini
    Randi Pratini says:

    Love that you don’t out and out tell folks where to go. The exploring is part of the adventure, plus it helps to keep hoards away from a recommended hole.! Thanks Erin!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] and then figure out where to go from there.  Not all river spots are easy access, so please see my blog post about Lemke’s Lagoon. Regardless if you’re going to Mountain Dog Swimming Hole, 49 […]

  2. […] and then figure out where to go from there.  Not all river spots are easy access, so please see my blog post earlier this summer about Lemke’s Lagoon.  Regardless if you’re going to Mountain Dog […]

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