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Stories from the valley

Hiking The Seven Sacred Pools, aka The Potholes

Contributed by Carl Gwyn

It’s a good time to enjoy the crisp fall weather, but there will most likely be more warm days before summer completely gives way to the new season. A delightful place to escape the heat or just enjoy beautiful views is found by visiting the Potholes or, as a friend of mine dubbed them, The Seven Sacred Pools.

As water runs out of Silver Lake, it becomes the Silver Fork of the American River. Close to its source, it cascades across a field of granite, forming several pools. Hiking along the trail to the pools, visitors enjoy a delightful trek through the forest accompanied by the soothing sound of the stream nearby. The trail is easy to follow and accessible by hikers of all ages.

After traveling about one mile on the trail, visitors encounter pools carved in the granite. On warm days, many people will spend the entire day lounging next to the creek or taking a dip in their favorite swimming hole to cool off. There’s plenty of shade, so this makes for a great family outing, made even more enjoyable with a picnic lunch included.

Hiking to the last of the pools will reward you with a great view of the canyon where the creek joins the south fork of the American River. Select a comfortable boulder of your choice and enjoy your day, awaiting a beautiful sunset over the Sierra Foothills.

This is a very popular spot in the summer, so if the weather is warm, you’ll want to arrive early. To find the trailhead, drive east on Highway 88 to Silver Lake. Park in the area around the dam; you will need $5 cash for the day use fee. With the dam behind you, look across the highway where you will see a gated dirt road. This is the trailhead. Carefully cross the highway and look for the trailhead sign at the beginning of the well-used path to the creek.

For more information on the area, please click here. For a map of the trail, please click here.

After a relaxing day by the water, an excellent choice to eat at Kit Carson Lodge, located about a quarter mile from where your car is parked and well within walking distance of the trailhead. Just follow the signs from the parking lot. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The dinner menu features Italian cuisine.

If you can’t enjoy the hike this year, definitely keep this on your agenda for next summer. I hope you have an enjoyable time at The Potholes.