Jump In: Not-So Secret Mountain Swimming Holes
Find waterfalls and maybe some wildlife on your way to Shirley Lake at Squaw Valley. (Squaw Valley)
The dog days of summer are upon us, and that means it’s time to find some relief from the heat in the cool, clear water of a mountain swimming hole. There’s something about that first jump in to a natural stream or lake that makes you feel like a kid again.
Some may take a short hike to get to, while others are accessed just by knowing which fork to take on a winding back road, but once you’re there, the reward of cooling off on a hot summer day is well worth the voyage.
Hike alongside waterfalls and granite boulders and take in breathtaking views of California’s Squaw Valley on your way to Shirley Lake on the Shirley Canyon Trail. Go to the end of Squaw Peak Road and park on the side of the road. This trail can be difficult to follow, so remember the general rule is to keep the creek on your right and follow it up for about 2.5 miles until you come to giant granite rock slabs. You will cross over this section and continue up to Shirley Lake. There are steep and rocky sections, so hiking boots are strongly recommended.
A popular swimming hole for locals and visitors alike, the Stratton Snowmaking Pond in Vermont offers breathtaking views of Stratton Mountain Resort and surrounding green peaks. Great for kayaking, SUPing, floating and swimming. A popular spot for dog owners, be prepared to make some furry friends. There’s a small beach area great for kids and a clear path around the pond for walking or running. Drive on Kendall Farm Road (Winhall, Vermont) until you see a road to the right with a black gate. Find the pond at the top of the hill.
A natural waterpark, Warren Falls near Vermont’s Mad River Glen and Sugarbush is fun for all ages. With pools of crystal clear water ranging in depth from one to 10 feet, the Falls are a local summertime tradition that no one should miss. Prehistoric boulders serve as diving platforms at heights for everyone to enjoy. From the intersection of Route 100 and Route 17 travel south on Route 100 for approximately 8 miles. Parking lot is on the right side of Route 100. Follow the path down to the base of the falls.
On a hot sunny day at Maine’s Sunday River, there is no better escape than the local swimming spot, Letter S. Located five miles past the Sunday River covered bridge, Letter S provides people (and their four-legged friends) some much-needed salvation after mountain biking or golfing. Located down a dirt road, Letter S is part of the actual Sunday River, which runs through glacial rock formations before widening out to what looks like a twisting letter "S." Travel further up the road to access the local waterfall and swim spot, Frenchman's Hole. Pack a lunch, towels and sunscreen, for when you claim highly coveted real estate for sunning, as well as shallow water to refresh the tootsies.
Just a 20 minute drive from Wyoming’s Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, stroll in the shade of the wooded 2.5-mile loop from the parking lot of the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, off Moose-Wilson Road, to Phelps Lake. The trail meanders along Lake Creek before planting you at Phelps Lake. Take a dip in the lake or take a leap from the Jumping Rock on the northeastern shore.