Natural Swimming Holes & Dips

Back in 1983 I was home taking care of my infant son while sweltering from the heat of an unusually hot summer. One day I decided I had enough and wanted to find a place for my son and I to cool off. At that time my family was new to Creston and we didn’t know where to go. When I walked out into the street I didn’t see a soul to ask for directions. So I decided to pack up my son and head off in our Blazer to seek out a swimming hole or at least cool running water to soak our feet in. Since that day I have heard from other new people to the area the same question that I posed back then – “Where do you go to cool off around here?”. This is why I am going to share with you my favorite swimming and wading places.

Goat River Bottom
This was my first natural swimming hole experience in the valley. Being a kid from the city made the experience even more intriguing. Fresh air, nature, flowing fresh water and happy locals made for a wonderful combination. Since then waterslides have never quite cut it for me.

Every summer this river dredges out a new landscape in its course. This is why it is important to investigate depths before diving in. Also, watch for snags and boulders hidden beneath the surface. Every year the run-off levels are different so the timing for safe swimming and wading varies but July and August are the popular months for swimming in the Goat River. In very hot summers the waters of the Goat River are a pleasant bathing temperature.

The Goat River branches and meets again before emptying into the Kootenay River. There are no waterfalls in this location to worry about. People can be found doing a variety of activities that include wading, swimming, jumping off the bridge (I wouldn’t do this), floating on air mattresses, socializing, tanning and fishing.

  • Head down Hwy 21 towards the USA border crossing and park along the highway near the first bridge. You can access the waters from here. Car access downstream is no longer available.
  • Some of the local teenagers have found access to the river off of Goat River Road.
  • In previous years the overflow route had water levels that were great for children. The access is off of Aldrich Rd past the second bridge. It is worth checking each season to see if the levels are high enough to swim in.

Kootenay River
The river makes for some wonderful boating activities that include swimming. The muddy banks of the river don’t make swimming from shore all that enjoyable. The river tends to be calmer than the Kootenay Lake making the conditions good for knee boarding and tubing. Some of the farmers along the river have built small wharfs and invite friends to enjoy the river from their place.
When my kids were younger we would launch the boat at the “Old Ferry Landing” off Kootenay River Road (turn off Hwy 21) and then cruise up and down the river from the US border to Kootenay Lake.

West Creston
I have heard that West Creston folks find Corn Creek an ideal spot to cool off on a hot summer day. You can access the creek from West Creston Road. I have been told to find the swimming hole all you need to do is follow the trail on the right hand side as you head up Corn Creek. After walking for 10 minutes you should come across a natural pool with a tire swing. Another location is just off of Peterman Road. You can identify the location by noting a sign that states: “Please keep gate closed”. West Creston has some nice paved roads to ride a bicycle on and Corn Creek makes for a nice rest area.

Duck Creek
Wynndel kids love to play and fish up Duck Creek. Duck Creek Road is a shady dirt road that winds along Duck Creek. There are access points where one can sit along the creek and paddle.

Beach access isn’t all that obvious from the harbor or the hwy. The string of mini beaches is rugged and yet cozy. Their close proximity to town makes them perfect for a quick dip or late day beach picnic. Mosquitoes are seasonal and you should not be discouraged if they are there when you arrive. Just wait a week or two and their numbers will diminish.

  • At Kuskanook, park along the highway facing south and then follow the trial down to the beaches.

Twin Bays
Locals use this area so often that they forget that new people don’t have a clue where this is. The scenery is spectacular in this bay and the water temperature a tad warmer than other areas. The soft beach is lovely for making castles and lounging on. Cottages line this public beach and a parking lot near the end of Twin Bays Rd has public washrooms. Most people drop off their gear and passengers (those not needing supervision) off at the beach access before parking. Please help keep this beach clean.

  • Follow Hwy 3A until you come to Holbrook Falls Motel approximately 20 to 30 minutes from town. You will notice on your left a street sign that reads Twin Bays. Turn down this road and follow it to the bottom of the hill where you will get a glimpse of the beach through the access between homes.

Highway 3a waterfall
Halfway between Sirdar and the Kuskanook is a delightful waterfall behind a curtain of cedar trees that is ideal for meditating and cooling off in. The waterfall is hidden off Hwy 3A by a few meters. My son and I discovered the fall while riding our bicycles from Wynndel to Kuskanook. I have since visited it by car. I park at a wide spot in the road where the blue Sirdar Pub sign is posted and walk north (towards the lake). The falls are on the upper side of the road. You will hear them before you notice a path divided by some loose rocks. Don’t forget to take your camera.

Kootenay Lake
I suggest you explore the Kootenay Lake along the highway and find your favorite spot. Lake access is all along the highway but isn’t always obvious. Talk to locals and find out where they like to go. Of course the best beaches are on the other side of the lake and access requires a boat. Tye campground and beach can be accessed by 4-wheel drive but I suggest you speak first to authorities (Ministry of Forests and Darkwoods Forest Corporation).

Enjoy the beautiful Creston and East Shore Kootenay Lake Valley and stay safe.

Debby Johnson (another proud resident)