4.9
9 votes

South Yuba River State Park

17660 Pleasant Valley Rd, Penn Valley, California 95946 USA

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“The longest single-span covered bridge!”

Who doesn't love a good secret swim spot? There's something extra magical about it: the cool, fresh water, the peace and quiet of the woods, the bubbling waterfalls and smooth pools... plus you don't have to worry about getting splashed by pesky kids hopped up on sugary Popsicles doing cannonballs into the deep end. It's how nature intended swimming to be: relaxing and refreshing. You can find them hidden in forests and parks all across America, and one of the country's coolest is located inSouth Yuba River State Park. Of course, like most good hidden swimming holes, you'll have to do a little work to get there, but the hike through the river is worth it-- and kind of fun in its own right. The stream is strewn with boulders that make the hike an exciting challenge. These boulders and rocks are what make the swimming holes as well. Even though the park is a local favorite, especially as the dog days of summer hit, there are so many secluded spots, nooks, crannies, and coves, that you'll feel like you discovered the place yourself! A few tips for hiking up the river: The best time is summer and early fall-- the water will be really high and running very fast in the spring and early summer, making the hike more difficult and potentially more dangerous. Wear sturdy waterproof shoes. You're going to be trekking through the river and up, down, over, under, and around rocks, and the right footwear can help make the hike more pleasant. You'll also want to pack water, snacks, and sunblock, since there's not a ton of shade along the river. And if you're bringing a picnic, a camera, or anything else you need to keep dry, make sure to bring a waterproof bag. Also, pack as light as possible! You might find yourself regretting bringing along a huge cooler halfway through the hike. And remember to leave yourself plenty of time to hike to a good location, relax a bit, and hike back. If you have any time left over, the park has more than just swimming holes. There's a historic covered bridge, one of the last of its kind, along with several other 19th-century bridges, plus the river was a popular spot to prospect for gold during the Gold Rush of 1849. Try your hand at being a Miner '49er with a demonstration that shows you how to pan for gold. Even if you don't strike it rich, you'll definitely still have a good time exploring the park and all it has to offer! -Roadtrippers This 20-mile portion of the South Yuba River canyon stretches from Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park to Bridgeport covered bridge. The area includes the longest single-span covered bridge in the world, the steep rugged canyon of the South Yuba River, and the Independence Trail — the first identified wheelchair-accessible wilderness trail in the country.  South Yuba River State Park offers many scenic vistas. Visitors can view fast water pouring over massive granite ledges in the spring and warm, slow moving emerald swimming holes during the late summer.

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Reviewed by
heidi.peinthor

  • 1 Review
  • 1 Helpful
September 18, 2014

Perfection.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Greek_nomad

  • Road Warrior
  • 401 Reviews
  • 256 Helpful
August 26, 2014
Rated 5.0

If you are visiting or passing by Penn Valley, California then it is definitely worth to stop by and visit the amazingly beautiful South Yuba River State Park where you can find the longest single-span covered bridge, which is an ideal opportunity to take some really great photos!

There are also many swimming holes in the area where you can grab the opportunity to dive in and cool yourself, especially during the hot summer days. But be aware, this place is also a beloved place for snakes, we've seen many rattlesnakes around, therefore be extremely careful.

The California Natural Plan Society has placed little signs with pictures near wildflowers as well to help you identify them so if you are not on a docent walk, you can find many without help. Overall is a great place for the whole family, even young kids and elderly people who will enjoy a great walk in nature and of course you have plenty of great spots for picnic. The parking costs $5.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
andrea.slater.5686

  • 1 Review
  • 1 Helpful
July 21, 2014
Rated 5.0

This is the place to come to when you just want to leave the city behind for a day or two. From morning til night there is always something todo. We came during the morning to take advantage of the mountain side hike with our dog. Was a challenge. But well worth it. Found a nice clean campsite (w/porte potty's). There's lots to see and take in. Things todo are hiking, swimming, picnicing, dog walking, boating(around the mountain), fishing, camping, & more. Also, have seen and heard lots of wildlife. I hope if you stop by, you enjoy your visit. We do every year.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
wanderlustandgo

  • 9 Reviews
  • 14 Helpful
December 17, 2013

I have to admit, I thought this would be lame. We went to visit Bridgeport bridge and I didn't have an accurate picture of the terrain, scenery, history or how long the bridge was. I was completely wrong. This is completely worth a stop or detour. We spent time skipping stones and photographing the beautiful bridge, and imagining the people who must have often crossed it years and years ago. There is an old Shell station near the Visitor's Center which is worth a look and brings you back to the 50s. This is a beautiful stop; I only wish we'd had more time to visit more of the park.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
marisabin

  • 2 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
October 05, 2014

The best swimming holes anywhere! well worth the drive. about 1.5 hrs from Sacramento

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South Yuba River State Park

17660 Pleasant Valley Rd
Penn Valley, California
95946 USA

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  • Pets Allowed
  • Restrooms
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  • Wheelchair Accessible
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