Tony Krizan

Great swimming hole near Tenaya

By Tony Krizan

An inviting spot to cool off after some hiking.
An inviting spot to cool off after some hiking. Special to Sierra Star

The Lewis Creek Ditch hike is not to be confused with the Lewis Creek and Corlieu Falls hike along Highway 41. To start the Lewis Creek Ditch hike, keep traveling north up Highway 41 and turn right on Road 6S67, just before the entrance to Tenaya Lodge.

Follow this unimproved one-lane road almost two miles. Along the road you’ll pass a riding stable before arriving at the Lewis Creek Ditch. On the left is a meadow with an abandoned fruit tree orchard. Next to the meadow are the ditch and an old abandoned driveway. Follow the driveway to an old cabin - this is the trailhead for the Lewis Fork Ditch.

This easy hike follows the shaded path above the original Lewis Creek for almost a mile before arriving at the diversion dam. From this point the trail changes its personality, gently increasing in elevation following the original creek.

After passing the first waterfall the trail becomes a little strenuous to the second falls. While skirting along the canyon above the creek, you’ll see the distant view of the second falls. Along this corridor there are options to drop down to the creek for impressive views following it as the water cuts its way through the canyon.

My hiking partner today is Nancy Morgan. She discovered this trail a few weeks ago when she joined her neighbors, Mike and Philomena Shutler. She was so impressed with this easy adventure she called me. After I researched Lewis Creek on my map, I realized this area could be interesting beyond the first falls.

One morning last week we decided to continue hiking upstream to the junction of White Chief Mountain and Long Creek.

Before arriving at the first falls, we came across a huge rock outcropping overlooking the creek with American Indian grinding holes. Above the first falls we were sidetracked with the vista views and trails leading down into the canyon between the first and second falls.

A natural pool is created below the second falls which makes an ideal swimming area with flat granite continuing down to the water’s edge. Add the backdrop of a 25-foot waterfall with an adjoining steep granite wall on its south edge creates a beautiful setting - now is the time to get wet.

Beyond this point the trail leading above the fall is a scramble. There are thick Manzanita bushes, and without an established tail call for hiking, pants are recommended beyond this point. With my bare legs exposed, this will be the end of our trail this day.

Personally I was impressed with this easy hike which is ideal for our hot summer months. Over seven tenths of this trek is in the shade.

The trail is almost level to the diversion dam, but becomes strenuous hiking to the top of the falls. If you are looking for a wilderness adventure without spending the entire day driving to the given location - you may consider this two-to-three-hour hike.

Take a lunch and enjoy the views below the second falls.

See you on the trail.