13 Best Cliff Jumping Spots in California

Pixelated photo of a cliff jumper diving headfirst into a creek in California

Cliff jumping is an increasingly popular outdoor activity in California. With its extensive coastline, fierce cliffs, and mountain lakes, the state provides plenty of opportunities for people to take a leap of faith. There are many different spots for cliff jumping in California, each with its unique scenery and level of difficulty. No matter where you jump, take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Is cliff jumping legal in California? 

Cliff jumping is legal in most areas of California. However, it is illegal in some places in San Diego. At Sunset Cliffs, for example, anything higher than 5 feet can earn you a $500 ticket. Always check with the local authorities beforehand to avoid getting into trouble, and watch out for any danger signs.

Safety precautions when cliff jumping in California

The jumps listed below are not to be underestimated. Please take all the precautions you can to ensure your safety and the safety of others.

1. Check the depth and location of the jump

Not all cliffs are created equal; some are better suited for jumping than others. Check the water conditions before you jump. It is crucial not to cliff-jumping into water less than 12 feet deep. Avoid strong currents.

Water visibility is also another point to consider. Check if there are rocks or other hazardous materials underwater. Some rocks may appear deeper than they actually are.

2. Make sure you’re an experienced swimmer

You have to be capable of swimming when cliff jumping. Knowing how to enter the water correctly, hold your breath for some time, and get back to the shore is essential. Being an inexperienced swimmer when cliff jumping may result in a fatal accident.

3. Bring someone along

Bringing someone along when you’re cliff jumping is a good idea for safety reasons. Accidents can happen. Having someone with you in case something goes wrong could be a lifesaving decision.

DisclaimerWe simply describe places that are known for cliff jumping. Many cliff jumping places are barricaded, or it can be outright illegal to jump. It is your responsibility to abide by the law and take the necessary safety precautions. We cannot and do not take any responsibility for your actions.

Cliff jumping near Los Angeles

Malibu Creek

Malibu Creek is located just a short drive away from LA. The creek features several different jumps ranging from 20 to 70 feet. With its towering cliffs and crystal-clear waters, the park is a popular spot for daredevils and adrenaline junkies.

Avoid going in mid-summer as the water tends to become a little stagnant. Also, watch out for the submerged rocks along the cliffs. Some thrill-seekers feel extra adventurous and even jump at night! 

There are also plenty of other activities to keep you busy, including hiking, camping, and fishing. So whether you’re looking for an exhilarating thrill or a relaxing day in nature, Malibu Creek is the perfect place for you. 

Tar Creek Falls

Tar Creek Falls is one of California’s most popular cliff jumping destinations. Located two hours away from Los Angeles, this creek boasts several launching points, from 10 to 20 feet at the Lower Falls and 15 to 25 feet at the Upper Falls, to a whopping 70 feet giant downstream.

The scenery is breathtaking, and the clear waters make for a refreshing swim after a long day of hiking or climbing. There are also plenty of picnicking areas to enjoy a leisurely lunch with friends or family.

It is around a 6-mile round trip hike through the ragged terrain that can be slippery sometimes. Just be sure to check the water level before jumping

Hermit Falls

Located in the San Gabriel Mountains, Hermit Falls is one of California’s most popular spots for cliff jumping. Towering cliffs surround the falls with different jumps, ranging from 10 to 60 feet. It was once a solitary place until the internet came along and blew up the spot. 

If you’re feeling extra brave, you can even attempt to swing from the bridge into the river below. Just be sure to use caution and good judgment, as the river can be dangerous when it swells.

Hermit Falls is located in a remote area, so it’s best to go with a friend or group. And always check conditions before you go, as the road to the falls can be washed out during heavy rains. Besides cliff jumping, you can go hiking, swimming, and camping. You can bring your kids too. The best time to go is in the midsummer, as it can get pretty cold from time to time.

The Mound

The Mound is situated in Lake Arrowhead, around two hours east of LA. The best way to go is hiking along Deep Creek in the San Bernardino National Forest. The Mound features 70 feet-high jumps with a consistent water depth all year round

It is also an excellent spot for a family getaway. The water is crystal clear, and the views are incredible. You can rent a boat or take a boat tour around the lake. There is also a village nearby, with a national park, numerous shops, eateries, and events.

Monkey Canyon

Monkey Canyon lies along the Big Tujunga creek in Angeles National Forest. The canyon features some jumps, ranging from 25 to 55 feet. It has a water hole that is also great for swimming. The best time to visit is early spring to mid-summer when the water is warm and around 10 feet deep.

However, due to the lack of enforcement, there are tons of trash and broken glass here. So just be cautious when jumping. And always check conditions before you go, as the river’s flow speed and level can vary depending on the time of year.

Cliff jumping near San Francisco

Shark Fin Cove

Shark Fin Cove is a secluded beach around 1 mile south of the city of Davenport. It is named after the massive rock formations resembling a shark fin from the water. The small water creek inside the cave can be fun to explore. Bring a flashlight as it can be dark inside.

Shark Fin Cove is a great spot if you’re looking for a more low-key jumping experience, ranging from 3 to 10 feet. The cliffs offer a scenic view of the ocean. Go along the railway tracks, and you will find a path leading to the ridge. The trail can be rocky and steep. Wear hiking shoes if necessary.

The best time to visit is during low tide, so you can explore the little cave. During high tide, the waves can be treacherous, and the water can cover up to 80% of the area.

The Inkwells

The Inkwells feature small, deep pools along Lagunitas Creek in West Martin. The best way to get here is by crossing the Shafter Bridge. Then walk down right through a crumbly path to get to the pools. The water is not the cleanest and polluted. It may not be the best place to swim. 

However, it is still a nice spot to float around, enjoy the views or do a little cliff jumping. It is best to visit during summer.

Cliff jumping near San Diego

Devil’s Punchbowl

Whether you’re looking for a swim, a day hike, a nice picnic spot, or a cliff to jump off, the Devil’s Punchbowl offers a range of activities. Unfortunately, this spot is easy to miss. So, if you’re heading to Aspen from Independence Pass, it will be on your left. 

The hike to Devil’s Punchbowl is relatively easy, even for inexperienced hikers. It offers many cliff jumps, ranging from 10 to 25 feet. It is recommended to visit during the summer months. The water temperature is cold even during hot weather due to the snow melting. Avoid jumping during or immediately after a rainfall, as the currents are strong and can sweep you out. 

The water depth is around 12 feet. However, it can vary depending on the temperature, rain and snowfall, and time of the year. 

Three Sisters Falls

Three Sisters Falls is located about an hour away from Downtown San Diego. The hike to the falls is pretty moderate, but can still be quite challenging for a few people. As you approach the middle fall, the trail is a little rocky and slippery. It is recommended to wear proper hiking shoes. The best time to go is in the early morning, as there’s little shade along the way. In the summer, it can be scorching hot. Bring plenty of water.

Please use caution when cliff jumping here. Always check the current conditions and be aware of the risks involved with serious injury or evacuation from the water. In addition, water levels, rocks, and river bottoms can shift over time, making a well-known jumping area a potential hazard.

These cliff-jumping spots in San Diego are illegal:

  • Sunset Beach
  • Cedar Creek Falls
  • La Jolla Cove

As the La Jolla Cove is off-limits for cliff jumping, we decided to visit the famous tidepools nearby and also did a fantastic kayak tour of the area, where we explored many caves and saw plenty of marine animals, including sharks, dolphins and sea lions!.

Cliff jumping in Lake Tahoe

Sand Harbor

Sand Harbor offers the best cliff jumping spot for people of all ages. It has several little jumps, ranging from 5 to 20 feet. These cliffs aren’t too high, making it an excellent spot for casual and more advanced cliff jumpers.

Getting to Sand Harbor is relatively easy. If you’re coming from the North Shore, travel south down the lake’s east shore, past Sand Harbor. The parking lot will be on the right side of the road. Park and continue to walk south along the trail. It will take about 30 minutes to reach the spot.

Make sure to go early in the morning as it is a popular tourist destination, especially among families. Besides cliff jumping, you can do many other sports, such as swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding.

Rooster Rock

Rooster Rock is another famous cliff jumping spot on Lake Tahoe’s western shore. The rock is shaped like a rooster, hence the name Rooster Rock. It offers a 25 feet tall jump, which makes it beginner-friendly. 

The rock is easily accessible by boat. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, you can also hike down the rock from the Rubicon Trail. However, the trail is unmaintained and requires a pretty steep descending. It is best to get a local who knows about this area to take you. Make sure to wear proper hiking shoes.

Some part of the beach is a naturist beach that can be pretty busy sometimes. So it may not be the best spot if you’re looking for some privacy!

Emerald Pools

Emerald Pools is a hidden gem located about 30 minutes from Donner Lake. The pools have pristine clear water, little waterfalls, and beautiful rock formations creating some cliffs to jump off of. The jumps range from only a couple of feet to 75 feet

The spot can be tricky to find as there is no official path and no signs available. Walk north, going down the road from the parking lot, then walk up on the ridge on your left. Walk along the river until you find little streams, then go around until you reach the pools. It’s only about 7 minutes of walking. Wear hiking shoes if necessary.
The water is ice cold all year long. So, the best time to visit is during summer, when the water gets a little warmer. Go early in the morning to avoid crowds. Make sure you check the water conditions before you jump, as some areas can be shallow.

The highest cliff jump in California

Rindge Dam in Malibu 

A few years ago, the city of Malibu dredged the pool below Rindge Dam and opened up the place for cliff-jumping shenanigans. As time goes by, Rindge Dam in Malibu became the official cliff-jumping heaven of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the hike to the pool is quite challenging, and there are no lifeguards on the spot. So, jump at your own risk.

The spot offers several jump points, ranging from 20 to 90 feet! The depth of the main pool is around 15 feet deep, while the 90 feet only have an 8-feet deep landing. It is not a spot for beginner or inexperienced cliff jumpers.

We also wrote similar guides for New Jersey and Texas!

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