Looking for some cool places to cool off? As Summer temperatures soar, NH’s White Mountains offers some enticing swimming holes to take a quick dip, or spend the entire day. Here’s the best places to swim in the White Mountains.
So far, this summer has been one of the hottest on record. The month of July saw sweltering heat in the 90’s and high humidity. If you’re yearning to find a beautiful spot to cool off, there are numerous enchanting places in these White Mountains to go jump in a lake or a river. As always, safety comes first. Be sure to wear proper footwear and a life jacket if you go in the water. In early spring, the water is usually quite high and icy cold from snow runoff, so swimming in these waters can be treacherous. Wait until summer when the water is warmer and the rivers are calmer.
Lower Falls Recreation Site features a string of drops along the Swift River, where the water drops over smooth granite rocks into large pools. Head west on the Kancamagus Highway (route 112) just south of Conway. This is a fee site, where you can enjoy sunbathing, picnicking and swimming. Be advised that this area can become very crowded, so your best times to visit are on weekdays earlier in the morning. Caution: If the water is high and/or rushing through this area, please do not swim at Lower Falls as it can be extremely dangerous.
Jackson Falls is one of the most visited places in summer in Mount Washington Valley because of its scenic beauty. It is approximately a 100 foot total drop waterfall, sourcing from the Wildcat Brook. Conveniently located on Carter Notch Road in Jackson NH, no hiking is required to see the falls. But, because it is so easily accessible, it is usually flocked with visitors from all over. However, if you hike up from The Wentworth Hotel at the bottom of Carter Notch Road, you’ll have more of the river to yourself than if you drive up to the parking area. There are many picnic tables for visitors to use and soak in the views. In Spring when the water is high, you’ll see the water crashing over the boulders and rock ledges.
Floating down the Saco River on a hot summer’s day is so refreshing! The Saco River offers some of the best and safest float trips when the water is low in the summer, offering many sand beaches for picnicking and sunbathing along its shores. The Saco has beautiful clear water and some small rapids. If you have your own tubes, a great put-in spot is at First Bridge on River Road in North Conway. Several hours of floating will take you down to Davis Park on West Side Road in Conway. Or, put-in at Humphrey’s Ledge on West Side Road and take-out at First Bridge. If you don’t have your own gear, there are several outfitters including Saco Bound where you can rent tubes and they will shuttle you to the put-in.
Ready to venture away from the crowds? Then head up Route 113 from Fryeburg to Evans Notch, far far away from the hustle and bustle of North Conway, Bartlett and Jackson. You’ll pass The Stow Corner Store in Stow, ME, where the food is astonishingly delicious. Enjoy lunch and sit there on the porch or at a picnic table, or grab a snack to take out and head off to Emerald Pool or Rattlesnake pool farther north on 113.
To get to Emerald Pool, you’ll pass through Maine and then back into New Hampshire on 113.
Emerald Pool is so named because of its eerily sparkling green water. For the more adventuresome, there’s a rock that sits above the deep pool where the brave at heart can jump into the cold mountain water below. This is one of the most beautiful fresh water pools in the White Mountains. To enjoy your time off the beaten track, away from the more crowded paths in North Conway, you’ll have to work a little to get there. Park at the lot for the Baldface Circle Trail, which is on the right side of 113 (heading north from Fryeburg). Cross the street for the trailhead and hike about .8 mile on a fairly flat trail to the spur that leads to Emerald Pool.
Rattlesnake Pool in Stow, Maine is another hidden gem in the Evans Notch area, with a small waterfall and clear green water. To get there, again you’ll have to work a little, but it’s worth the hike! You’ll pass through NH on Route 113, and then back into Maine again. Take a right onto Stonehouse Road and then take the right hand fork. Park at the gate at the end of the road. The hike starts on a dirt road after walking around the gate. The trail head for White Cairn Trail will be on your left after about a quarter mile, and the trail head for Stone House Trail and Rattlesnake Pool will be on your left after about a half mile. Both trail heads are well marked.