Since I have been on a quest to explore California's best swimming holes, I kept reading and hearing about Gods Bath over and over again. Finally I had the opportunity to explore this awesome swimming hole. My buddy John got ahold of me the week prior and told me he wanted to check out a swimming hole so I decided it was finally time to check this one-off the list. This is definitely a swimming hole fit for the gods!
Gods bath is located deep in the Stanislaus National Forest. The closest town is Sonora, California. I hope you do not get car sick, this drive is a very windy one! If you have to pick up snacks or use the restroom, I would recommend stopping somewhere in town before you venture off into the forest.
Directions to Gods bath from Sonora; Take Tuolumne Rd until you hit the small town of Tuolumne and then take a left onto Carter st which you veer left and it becomes Buchanan Rd or Forest rte 1N101. These roads can be confusing when you enter the forest. Keep an eye out for a cross-road called Old Buchanan mine Rd then the road turns into Fish hatchery Rd. You will stay on this rd until you hit another cross-road of Nort Fork. Continue straight onto Cottonwood road aka Forest road 1N104 all the way until you cross over a bridge with a turn out just past the bridge on the right side. You will park here. To make sure you are at the right spot, you will see stickers on the right side of the bridge railing and behind is a steep trail that leads down to the Clavey River.
From the bridge it is about a half mile scramble up the river. When I went, the river levels were higher than normal so we had to get wet a few times as we trekked along the edge of the river until we reached gods bath. You can't miss it once you arrive. Just use the photos in this post as reference if you are unsure!
I would highly advise going early to beat the crowd. We got to the swimming hole around 10 am after a 3 hour drive from Vacaville. We had it to ourselves for about 30 mins and the crowd rolled in. During our time, there was about 10-15 people there just hanging out. Like I mentioned earlier, the water was very high and the current was very powerful. We witnessed 3 people almost drown when they jumped from the cliff and they were traumatized for about 45 mins. They laid on the granite slabs trying to gather themselves afterwards. So use caution when you arrive, The waterfall in the photos shows the current as very strong. If you see the same thing, Do not jump near the waterfall as it will grab you and keep you in the whirlpool.
Overall it was a great experience and a good time. One cool feature next to the waterfall called "the bath" where its a tub of water with about 5 foot ledges. That allows you to swim through this underwater entrance into the river where the waterfall is. I would come back later in the year to enjoy it more. The water levels will be lower and safer to cliff jump.
Dogs; I brought my dog and she made it there just fine with a few hiccups along the way so use caution if you decide to bring yours
Rope; Bring rope incase someone is struggling to get out of the whirlpool in an emergency situation.
Snacks; You have to eat right?
Leave no trace when you go. Pick up the trash that was left behind to make this place clean and safe!
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