We wish we could say “Obviously, we know you guys aren’t stupid, you’ll test the depths of any body of water you dive into before you dive into it”, but we can’t. Because some of you are stupid. Never underestimate the immense capabilities of humans to be total dumb-asses. So, please be careful and test the water depth. Now that our public safety announcement is out of the way, enjoy the Top 7 Cliff Jumps in Southern California, courtesy of Jeff Edwards of Los Angeles Swimmin.
7. Malibu Creek Rock Pools, Calabasas.
This spot is a famous landmark in Los Angeles, many film and television shows were shot here like Planet of the Apes, MASH and one of my personal 70’s favorites Kung Fu with David Carradine. There is a scene where young Grasshopper dives head first into a pool, well it wasn’t really him it was a stunt actor, but it is one of the best scenes in cinematic history. Today kids jump from that same spot, usually really drunk and stoned, but their videos end up on Youtube not ABC. The cliffs range from 10-50 feet with depths around 8-12 feet. As with all swimming holes in Southern California, the water here can get stagnant. Best time to jump is when the water warms up in the spring and lasts until mid summer.
6. Hermit Falls, Arcadia.
A few years ago no one knew about Hermit Falls, then the internet came along and blew up the spot. Since the Forest Service renovated the parking lot at Chantry Flat, Hermit Falls sees almost a thousand people on the weekend. What was once a place of solitude is now a party spot with kids from all over the San Gabriel Valley falling face first off the 40 footer and getting helicoptered out. Personally I don’t mind a party, but when idiots spray paint the rocks, leave their trash all over the place, and take up all the spots in the parking lot I get a little pissed off. If you go here make sure to get to the trailhead by 9am or risk hiking an extra mile both ways cuz you had to park somewhere down the hill. Also bring a trashbag and do your part to clean up, even though it isn’t your trash it is still your swimming hole. As much as I hate doing my roommate’s dishes it makes the space a better place to live in. Jumps range from 15-40 feet and water depth can be anywhere from 6-10 feet. Always check before you jump.
5. Aztec Falls, Lake Arrowhead.
Aztec was full of sand for the past 3 years until this spring. Now that the place is deep again people have been going nuts here. This spot lies along Deep Creek near Splinter’s Cabin. There are jumps ranging from 15-60 feet and the water is about 10 feet deep in the center. There is a gradual sand shelf that leads to a beach where you can post up and drink a bunch of tall cans and snap a bowl of your finest OG Jedi Bubba 213 Purple Diesel Trainwreck Northern Lights Kush. The hike is a 15 min walk along the PCT with a quick scramble down to the falls. Whatever you do, do not hike along the creek to get there. You will encounter tons of rattlesnakes and add an extra hour to a very easy 15 min hike.
4. Matilija Dam, Ojai.
A very controversial slab of concrete holds back a reservoir filled with sediment where kids come to swim and jump. In 1948 this dam was built to supply water for farmers in Ventura County, now conservationists want it demolished to allow the river to flow as it originally did so wildlife can return to its natural state. This dam will be removed in the very near future so get your jumping in now. Jumps range from 20-50 feet and no one I know has ever hit bottom. It is perfectly legal to swim in the lake behind the dam but Illegal to jump from it. You can see the cops coming up the road and frankly they really don’t want to write tickets for the 50+ people swimming there on any given weekend in the summer. Best time to go is when the weather warms up. One warning I will give is watch where you park. If you park where the No Parking signs are you will get a ticket and your mom will bitch at you.
3. Monkey Canyon, Tujunga.
This swimming hole was buried in sand after rains following the 2009 Station Fire in the Angeles National Forest. Big Tujunga Creek has slowly been clearing out the hole since and now it is finally jumpable. Jumps range from 20-50 feet but water depth suffers later in the year. Best time to hit this place up is early spring to mid summer while it’s around 10 feet deep. Monkey Canyon is famous for its shitty graffiti, broken glass and stream burritos (diapers) so be careful jumping later in the year. I got a bad sinus infection jumping this place in the summer of 2008, try to go there before the pools get stagnant.
2. Rindge Dam, Malibu.
Rindge has become the official cliff jumping paradise of Los Angeles. A few years ago the City of Malibu dredged the pool below Rindge Dam and opened the place up for cliff jumping shenanigans. Since it’s super hard to get down to the pool cops and rangers rarely visit to bust kids for open containers and HS 11357. When they do come down all you have to do is swim to the other side of the pool where they can’t get you, then you can moon them and flash gang signs and whatnot. Because of the lack of police enforcement there is a ton of trash and graffiti at this place. People hate hiking out all their beer cans and Hostess wrappers, so do me a favor and take a trash bag down with you and clean up a little. Jumps range from 20-90 feet. Depth in the main pool is 15+ feet deep while the 90 footer only has an 8 foot deep landing so be careful.
1. The Mound, Lake Arrowhead.
This is my personal favorite spot cuz it has the perfect jumps, the water is deep all year round and it hasn’t been spoiled by overuse (trash, graffiti). I came across this place while hiking Deep Creek along the PCT looking for new spots to jump. When I first visited in 2007 it wasn’t deep enough to jump, but when I came back in 2009 all of the sand shifted downstream and opened up a 10ft+ deep swimming hole with jumps ranging from 10-70 feet. Since then I have been here every year and seen some incredible shit go down. This place holds a special place in my heart so if you go there please don’t trash it or I will personally come to your house and fart on your pillow.
For directions to each location, visit losangelesswimmin.com