Garden of Eden is a Popular Swimming Spot in the Santa Cruz Area

Garden of Eden is a Popular Swimming Spot in the Santa Cruz AreaOne of the biggest draws to Santa Cruz is its location on the Monterey Bay. When you think about Santa Cruz and the beach you probably get excited about the opportunity for frequently enjoying the water especially if you love to swim. The beaches of Santa Cruz are great but there are also some hidden gem swimming spots around the Santa Cruz area. One of the most popular known only by locals swimming pools is the Garden of Eden tucked into the Santa Cruz mountains.

How to get to the Garden of Eden in Santa Cruz

The Garden of Eden is a spot located inside Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. When traveling from downtown Santa Cruz it is only 15 minutes outside of the city. It is a not-so-secret secret spot in Santa Cruz. The best way to get there is to take Highway Nine until you get to the dirt parking lot near the north entrance to Henry Cowell State Park.

When you get to the dirt road you will then look for the ox trailhead. It is good to know that you will need to do a little bit of hiking to get to this amazing spot. You will hike along the ox trail through the amazing Santa Cruz redwood forest and look for the railroad tracks. When you find the train tracks follow them to the right. As you follow the train tracks you will see a sign for the Garden of Eden swimming pools on the left. If you are not a hiker do not worry the trail is fairly easy and it is only about 3/4 of a mile to the Garden of Eden.


This is the most popular activity at Garden of Eden but there are several different ways you can enjoy the natural surroundings. The pools at the Garden of Eden are made from the San Lorenzo River winding its way through the mountains and down to Monterey Bay. There is a collection of different pool areas that are home to crystal clear water and amazing for a swim, especially in peak temperatures during the summer. Be mindful that you may have to walk over a couple of rocks or fallen tree limbs to get into the open water of the pools. It is a family-friendly spot for swimming however and you will see many people of all ages enjoying the Garden of Eden swimming holes.


Another popular activity at the swimming pools is to bring a flotation device and just float the river. It is a leisurely fun activity that many people enjoy. Be careful you may find yourself not wanting to get out. Be sure you have plenty of sunscreen because it is easy to end up relaxing in the water for hours.

Other non-water activities around the Garden of Eden

Looking for Wildlife

The Garden of Eden tucked into the redwoods of Santa Cruz is home to many species of local wildlife. There is a high chance you will spot something interesting hanging around or even swimming in the pools. Something you may find in abundance is the famous Santa Cruz banana slug for which the UC Santa Cruz has made its mascot. You may also spot owls, woodpeckers, deer, and more.


The trail that leads to the Garden of Eden is only a short three-quarter mile from the parking lot. But there is an extended hike around the Garden of Eden as you continue to walk along the San Lorenzo River. The entirety of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is full of amazing hiking trails and some of the best will be found in the Santa Cruz area. One of the most popular in the park is the 9-mile Redwood Grove Loop, Trail. The Henry Cowell observation deck loop is also popular.


This activity is water-related but it doesn't necessarily require getting into the water to enjoy. There are some spots on the San Lorenzo River that are great for fishing. It is not so much recommended that you fish near people in the swimming holes though. This is a great place to catch steelhead trout and one of the best in the country. Be mindful however that the trout season only runs from December to February. It is also good to know that fishing in the river is catch and release.

So if you are looking for a great swimming hole that is wonderful for cooling off in peak temperatures check out the Garden of Eden. It is tucked into the woods and not often thought about by the average Santa Cruz tourist making it a little less busy. If you are searching for a home in Santa Cruz contact me anytime I'm here to help you with any Santa Cruz real estate needs.

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