5 Adirondack swimming holes to beat the heat this summer

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Must-visit swimming holes across the Adirondacks provide refreshing escape

By Arietta Hallock

It’s only June, and yet summer temperatures are already creeping their way into the high 80 and 90s in the Adirondacks. When it feels too hot for a day of hiking, try beating the heat at one of these classic swimming holes.

Jay Covered Bridge

Located on the Ausable river in Jay, this area is a favorite for swimmers and sunbathers alike. Just upstream from a quaint, wooden covered bridge that is closed off to cars, this swimming spot is dotted with flat rocks, small pools, and tiny waterfalls. Try sun-drying on its smooth rocks after cooling off in the river’s cold waters. Parking is available on either side of Jay Covered Bridge. (Photo at top by Tim Rowland)

Split Rock Falls

A gorgeous roadside view in its own right, Split Rock Falls is also popular among swimmers. From the pulloff parking on Route 9, a slew of short and direct trails lead to the waterfalls, though some trails are steeper scrambles than others. The easiest trail, according to See/Swim, is tucked behind a “no parking” sign in the pulloff lot adjacent to the parking area. It leads to calmer waters downstream of the falls. A short stroll along the bank leads to a placid, pebble-bottomed lower pool with a view of the falling water.

Though a favorite spot for day-trippers, dangerous incidents have occurred at Split Rock Falls, especially in the middle pool between the two waterfall segments. Clear of the slick-rocked waterfalls and the turbulence below them, the spacious lower pool is the safest place to swim.

split rock falls swimming hole
Split Rock Falls near Elizabethtown is a popular summer swimming hole. Photo by Nancie Battaglia

Griffin Falls

This Southern Adirondack favorite swimming hole is tucked away on a dirt road off of Route 8 in Wells, the first left after its intersection with Route 30. After crossing the bridge, parking is on the right and a foot trail that leads just upstream from the falls is on the left. With gorgeous sloping rock formations on either side of the river and a small, 8-foot waterfall, it’s the perfect place to pack a picnic. While the calm waters above and below the falls are great to wade in all summer long, the pool at its base is a swimmer’s oasis when waters are calm.

Dunkley Falls

On Harrington Road off of Route 28 in Wevertown, this swimming hole is just steps away from its sparsely marked street-side parking. Let the sound of moving water through the trees assure you that you’ve found the right spot, and follow one of the few short, scrambling trails down to the river. There, a cascading waterfall rolls into a large, deep pool surrounded by steep rocks. With waters so deep that their appearance is notably dark, it’s not hard to see why this spot was nicknamed the “Black Hole.” Keep an eye out for a rope swing at the pool’s far edge.

Bear Slide

This unique natural waterslide in the Lake George Wild Forest is a roughly 15 minute uphill hike from the trailhead at the end of its parking area off of River Road. With a smooth, calm-watered slope, this is a great spot to sit and cool off your legs or try sliding down into the shallow pool below.

If you choose to visit a swimming hole this summer, be sure to use caution after heavy rains, check water levels, confirm access rights, and avoid risky behaviors like cliff jumping.

This list is just a starting place! Add your favorite in the comments below.

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