Being lazy ain’t so bad, especially if it’s along the banks of the San Lorenzo River, near Felton in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Here, swimming holes are as abundant as the redwoods, so take your pick. A simple hike gets you to all of them. Most people head to Garden of Eden (via the 0.7-mile Ox Trail, just south of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park). This is a great spot, with lots of giant rocks and two deep swimming holes. But be prepared: it can turn into a waterfront version of High School Musical 3. For a more secluded and quiet section of the river, take the first spur trail off of Ox Trail, after crossing the railroad tracks. As you descend, a summertime oasis slowly reveals itself: a wide sandy beach, offering sun, shade, and relative solitude (pictured). The gently flowing river is also a great place for pool toys (inner tubes or inflatable recliners are ideal). Bring a book, some munchies, and a beach blanket. Lazy days are here again.
The parking pullout is on east side of Hwy 9, 1.2 miles south of the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park entrance. Look for the “Ox Parking Lot” sign and walk down the Ox Trail. To reach the Garden of Eden, cross the railroad tracks, continue .25 mile and look for the signed spur trail on the left. To find the other, more secluded beach, cross the railroad tracks, go 50 feet and take a spur trail to the left. Look for a brown “State Property” sign on a 20-foot tall tree stump; this sign is by the correct spur trail. No dogs.