The Potholes at Silver Lake

5-star hike.
1.5 mile out-and-back • Easy difficulty.
Elevation 7,125 - 7,265 feet. Gain 100 feet.
El Dorado National Forest, Northern California
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These potholes are infinitely more fun than a bump in the road, and a great relief from warm summer days. You'll find them on State Route 88 six miles South of Kirkwood ski resort and 40 miles South of South Lake Tahoe.

Bereft of any trailhead signs, we only discovered this excellent swimming hole by word of mouth. Probably the best because although this swimming hole might be new to some, it can get busy, particularly at weekends.

Trailhead is located across the road from the Silver Lake day-use area, which is probably the best location to park. There is also informal parking for around six cars immediately next to the trailhead, and potentially more parking towards the Kit Carson Lodge – check out our map for more information.

The well-marked trail begins at the Southwestern corner of the SR-88 bridge, and gently descends to The Potholes through the shade of evergreen forest, alongside the Silver Fork American River which is really no more than a big stream at this point. You’ll know when you arrive at the Potholes, at which point you can scramble around the granite landscape to find the best of the swimming and jumping holes – and even a few short slides to enjoy.

Just across the road, Silver Lake is a great place for lunch or to put in a kayak

Shade is available closer to the top of The Potholes, but the main areas of the swimming holes don’t offer much protection from the sun. You can also extend this short trail a little further by exploring the rocks and river below The Potholes, including a picturesque little waterfall.

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