Stony Creek

Pub date January 5, 2010
WriterGary Hanauer

Rating: C

If you’re willing to drive two hours from Clearlake and hike along a shimmering forest stream, you’ll be rewarded with three skinny-dipping pools you can sample in a single afternoon. Two of these delightful swimming holes have their own waterfalls. If you look carefully, a third hole can be found below them, down a sunny trail.


Legal status:

Mendocino National Forest land within the Snowy Mountain Wilderness.


How to find it:

From Clearlake, take Highway 53 north 3.8 miles, then turn right onto Highway 20. Go 28 miles and make a left turn onto Leesville Road. Follow it for 13.6 miles. Next, turn right onto Leesville Lodoga Road. Stay on Leesville Lodoga for 9 miles, then turn left onto Lodoga Stonyford Road. Drive 7.7 miles to Stonyford. Pick up M-10 at the Stonyford Work Center, at 5171 Stonyford-Elk Creek Road in Stonyford and follow it 10 miles to North Fork Campground. You’ve almost arrived! Park at the campground and take the trail up Stony Creek until you reach another creek that comes in from the west. After another 10 minutes of walking, check for an overhang that juts over the creek. That’s where you’ll find the lower of the three pools. Walk 10 minutes farther upstream and you will see the pools with the waterfalls.


The beach:

A trio of secluded pools with some rocks that can be used for sunbathing and at least two waterfalls.


The crowd:

Most likely just you.


The tanning rocks are sometimes slippery; lack of many landmarks on the trail; high heat on the trail during the summer because it is exposed to the sun (be sure to wear a cap).