close
Hike & Swim: 20+ trail hikes that include a refreshing swimming hole dip

Hike & Swim: 20+ trail hikes that include a refreshing swimming hole dip

June 26, 20184387Views
Swan Island

Summer heat calls for cool dips in Maine’s lakes, ponds and rivers (and that refreshingly frigid ocean). And while we’re welcome to head straight for the nearest swimming hole and plunge right in, that cool dip will feel even more rewarding after a hike in the Maine (or New Hampshire) woods. Below are some hike-and-swim pairings, ranging from easy-going trails to more difficult mountain summits.

Swan Island
Swan Island, just off Richmond, is a cool little getaway with hiking trails, swimming, camping, and canoe and kayak rental. Shannon Bryan photos

Swan Island, Richmond

Located at the head of Merrymeeting Bay, just off the coast of Richmond, Swan Island is a 4-mile-long, half-mile-wide island that isn’t far out to sea, but feels remote once you’re on it. It’s open to the public from May to October and offers easy-going trails (ranging from 0.5-2 miles), kayak rentals, and a fine spot for swimming on the east side of the island near the camping area. You could paddle yourself to Swan Island – it’s a stone’s throw from the mainland – or take the 5-minute ferry offered by the IFW. (You’ll need to call ahead or reserve online to ensure a spot. See details below.) Camping and kayak rentals are also available. And be sure to check out the viewing tower!
Where: The boat launch and ferry parking lot are at the intersection of Routes 197 and 24 in Richmond. Follow the signs!
Fees: $8 day use fee
Pets: Nope
Distance: Easy-going trails ranging from 0.5 to 2 miles long.
Difficulty: Easy. There’s a walkable dirt road and trails in the trees, all fairly flat, but make sure to leave time to walk back and catch the return ferry!
To reserve a spot call 207-547-5322 or email Swan.Island@Maine.gov or complete the online form here.
The ferry leaves Richmond four times a day (9:15 am, 11:15 am, 1:15 pm, 3:15 pm) and leaves Swan Island four times a day (9 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm).
FMI: www.state.me.us
PDF of brochure and trail map: www.state.me.us

Rattlesnake Pool swimming hole
Rattlesnake Pool is one stunning pool of water. And is it ever cold! Shannon Bryan photos

Blueberry Mountain and Rattlesnake Pool, Evans Notch, White Mountains

The emerald-colored water of Rattlesnake Pool is mesmerizing. It’s also really cold. I generally get in up to my shins and call it good, but plenty of bolder hikers plunge in all the way. If you hike the entire 3.9-mile loop (starting on the White Cairn Trail to Blueberry Ridge Trail and then to Stone House Trail), the pool will be a welcome reward close to the end of the hike. But you can also skip the loop and hike straight to the pool via the Stone House Trail. Both trailheads are accessed from Stone House Road.
Where: Blueberry Mountain, Stone House Road (which turns into Shell Pond Road), Stow. Park at gate or on the road
Fees: Nope
Pets: Yep!
Distance: 3.9-mile loop (or cut to the chase and go straight to Rattlesnake Pool, 1.1 miles)
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult.
FMI: www.trails.com
Here’s a great blog post from the AMC detailing the entire loop.

Morse Mountain and Seawall Beach

The 600-acre Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area, comprised of salt marshes and coastal uplands, is managed by Bates College for environmental research and education, but is open to the public for hiking and beach-lounging. The 2-mile trail to Seawall Beach includes a trek up Morse Mountain (an elevation of 180 feet) and then down to the beach. Long beach walks encouraged! (Also encouraged: respecting the plant and animal life here, although that should be the rule wherever we go.) Get there early to ensure a parking spot in the lot (parking is limited) and bring bug spray (but leave the dog, the beach umbrella, and the Frisbee at home).
Where: Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area, Morse Mountain Road, Phippsburg
Fees: None that I could fine reference to
Pets: Nope
Distance: 2-mile hike to beach (4 miles total, out and back)
Difficulty: Easy, on
FMI: www.morseriver.com
Aislinn Sarnacki has a great post about this hike on her BDN blog

Lonesome Lake Trail

Follow the Lonesome Lake Trail and be rewarded with supreme views, a sweat-inducing hike, and a refreshing swim in Lonesome Lake. The Lonesome Lake Trail is a 3.1-mile loop, but you can extend the hike by taking other trails to or from the trailhead, located in the Lafayette Campground in Franconia Notch State Park. It’s a moderate hike – so you will earn that dip! And feel free to pop into the AMC Lonesome Lake Hut.
Where: Trailhead is located in the southernmost parking area of Lafayette Campground, Franconia Notch State Park, Franconia, NH
Fees: $4 day use fee may apply
Pets: Yep, on leash!
Distance: 3.1-mile loop
Difficulty: Moderate
FMI: www.alltrails.com
Nice blog post about this hike from NH State Parks: blog.nhstateparks.org

Shore Trail and Flagstaff Lake – Maine Huts & Trails, Somerset County

A visit to one of Maine Huts & Trails huts is recommended any time of year – for a day trip, an overnight, or a whole weekend. But Flagstaff Hut and Flagstaff Lake are a perfect destination on a sunny summer day. The hike is an easy-going 1.8 miles (that’s one way) and family friendly. You can swim at the lake, and kayak, canoe, and paddleboards are available for use (free to MH&T members, or $10 day membership for nonmembers). And during the summer, you can even buy lunch at the hut on Saturdays and Sundays.
Where: Trailhead is on Long Falls Dam Road Trailhead on Long Falls Dam Road in northwest Somerset County
Fees: Nope! ($10 to use kayaks, canoes, or paddleboards on the lake)
Pets: Yep
Distance: 1.8 miles one way
Difficulty: Easy-moderate
FMI: mainehuts.org/our-huts/flagstaff
Check out Aislinn Sarnacki’s blog post about this hike.

Lake Megunticook
Megunticook Lake is a great place to paddle or swim – and a hike in adjacent Fernald’s Preserve are great together. Shannon Bryan photos

Fernald’s Neck Trails and Megunticook Lake, Lincolnville

There are about four miles of easy-to-moderate trails at Fernald’s Neck Preserve , which covers most of a large peninsula that juts into the north end of Megunticook Lake. Take the easy 0.4-mile (round trip) White Trail or the moderate 1.75-mile (round trip) Orange Trail to access Megunticook Lake and SWIMMIN’! Note: no dog allows in the preserve.
Where: Fernald’s Neck Preserve, Fernald’s Neck Road, Lincolnville
Fees: Nope!
Pets: No
Distance: 0.4-mile round trip White Trail or 1.75-mile round trip Orange Trail
Difficulty: Easy White Trail, moderate Orange Trail
FMI: www.mainetrailfinder.com
PDF of trails

Schoodic Mountain and Beach Trail, Sullivan

Schoodic Mountain and Schoodic Beach aren’t the only worthwhile options in Donnell Pond Public Lands Unit in Sullivan and Franklin. But the 360-degree views over Frenchman Bay and Mount Desert Island on Schoodic’s summit, combined with the access to Schoodic Beach, make the Beach Trail an ideal hike for the hiker/swimmer. The easy 0.5-mile trail directly to the beach is always an option, too!
Where: Donnell Pond Public Lands Unit, Schoodic Beach Road, Sullivan
Fees: Nope!
Pets: Yep!
Distance: 2.8 miles total (including summit and beach). Or go straight to the beach 0.5 miles.
Difficulty: Easy (beach trail). Trail to summit ranked moderate.
FMI: www.mainetrailfinder.com
PDF of trails: www.maine.gov

Katahdin Lake Trail, Baxter State Park

There are a whole lot of reasons to get yourself to Baxter State Park (hiking Katahdin tends to be chief among them). But a moderate hike to a lake is another fine way to spend the day. It’s about 3.3 miles from the Katahdin Lake Trail trailhead to the lake, which will bring you into the Katahdin Lake Campground and a trail leading down to a sandy beach.
Where: Katahdin Lake Trail trailhead is located along Roaring Brook Road which is accessed from the Togue Pond Gatehouse (South Gate) of Baxter State Park.
Fees: $15 entrance fee to Baxter State Park for non-Maine residents
Pets: No
Distance: 7.5 miles, Loop
Difficulty: Moderate
FMI: www.mainetrailfinder.com
Blog post from Aislinn Sarnacki of the BND

Hiking Tumbledown Mountain and taking a dip in the pond at the top. Shannon Bryan photos

Tumbledown Mountain, near Weld

The 1.9-mile Brook Trail will take you straight up to the pond near the summit, where you can lounge near the water or get in for a swim. (With all the sweating you’ll do on your way up, it’ll feel great to cool down in the pond.) Or take the Loop Trail for added challenge (in the form of steam crossings, rock scrambling and Fat Man’s Misery – a narrow fissure in the mountain you’ll have the pleasure of climbing through.
Where: Weld to Byron Road, Weld
Fees: Nope
Pets: Yep!
Distance: 1.5-2.9, depending on which trail you take to the summit
Difficulty: Moderate to advanced, depending on which trail you take
FMI: www.mainetrailfinder.com

Shoreline Trail Rangeley Lake State Park

Sure, you can park close to the beach and head straight there. Or park at the Shoreline Trail trailhead (near the boat launch) and enjoy an easy 0.5-mile hike along the water to the beach for some swimming. The Shoreline Trail is 0.9 miles in total, so you could hike the whole thing, then hit the beach on your way back.
Where: Rangeley Lake State Park, South Shore Drive, Rangeley Plantation
Fees: $4 Maine resident, $6 non-resident
Pets: Yep, on leash
Distance: 0.5 miles from parking lot to beach via Shoreline Trail (which continues on for another 0.4 miles past beach, if you want some extra hiking).
Difficulty: Easy
FMI: www.mainetrailfinder.com
PDF of brochure and map: www.maine.gov

Peaks-Kenny State Park and Sebec Lake, Dover-Foxcroft

Peaks-Kenny State Park offers a choose-your-own hiking adventure selection of trails. Take it easy with a 0.4-mile loop through the woods via the Cove Trail, which starts and ends at the beach. Or hike the 2.3-mile Birch Mountain Ledge Trail for more hiking time. There’s also a 0.2-mile Loop Trail and 3.4-mile Brown’s Point Trail. Whatever trail you hike, the beach will be waiting.
Where: State Park Road, Dover-Foxcroft
From Dover-Foxcroft, take Route 153 approximately 4.5 miles and turn left on State Park Road
Fees: $5 Maine residents, $7 non-residents
Pets: Yes, on leash
Distance: 0.4-mile loop Cove Trail, 3.4-mile Brown’s Point Trail
Difficulty: Easy (Cove Trail), moderate (Brown’s Point Trail)
FMI: www.mainetrailfinder.com
PDF of brochure and map: www.maine.gov

Beaver Park in Lisbon is a family-friendly park with easy-going trails and a few swimming ponds. Shannon Bryan photos

Beaver Park, Lisbon

This family-focused park off Cotton Road has several miles of easy-going trails, as well as two regulation softball diamonds, picnic areas, and a few swimming ponds. (There’s also a one-mile fitness trail, complete with 70s-era workout stations.)
Where: Beaver Park, Cotton Road, Lisbon
Fees: $2 for Lisbon residents and $4 for non-residents
Pets: Nope
Distance: 6.5 miles of networked trails
Difficulty: Easy
FMI: www.lisbonme.org/parks
I went! Read more about it: 70s-era workout stations + easy hiking trails at Beaver Park in Lisbon

Dunn Point Trail and Moosehead Lake – Lily Bay State Park, Beaver Cove

Enjoy an easy hike along the shore of Moosehead Lake with the 1.3-mile Dunn Point Trail, which goes through the Dunn Point Campground before reaching the beach and swimming area. There’s parking close to the beach, should you prefer to go direct to the water and stay there or do an out-and-back from the beach.
The 1.3-mile Dunn Point Trail is a fairly flat, relatively easy hike along the shore. While hiking this trail take a minute to enjoy a soothing dip along a small beach in the lake
Where: Lily Bay State Park, State Park Road, Beaver Cove
Fees: $4 Maine residents, $6 non-residents
Pets: Yep, on leash
Distance: 1.3 miles from parking area trailhead to beach (where there’s another parking area).
Difficulty: Easy
FMI: www.mainetrailfinder.com
PDF of brochure and map: www.maine.gov

The views from Whitehorse Ledge Trail and looking up at the mountain from the swimming area at Echo Lake State Park. Shannon Bryan photos

Echo Lake State Park

You could skip the hike and go straight to the water. The small beach (with roped-off swimming area and a lifeguard) is right near the parking lot. But the Whitehorse Ledge Trail and/or Cathedral Ledge are really worth seeing. The Whitehorse Ledge Trail is a moderate hike, steep in parts, and with stupendous views.
Where: Echo Lake State Park, 68 Echo Lake Road, Conway, NH
Distance: 3.2-mile loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Fees: Admission is $4 for adults; $2 for children ages 6-11; children ages 5 and under and NH residents age 65 and over are admitted free.
Pets: Pets are permitted throughout the back trails in the Cathedral and White Horse areas only, not at the beach
FMI on Whitehorse Ledge Loop Trail: www.alltrails.com
FMI on Echo lake State Park: northconwaynh.com and www.nhstateparks.org

Little Tunk Pond Preserve, Sullivan

It’s a fairly straight shot to the beach on the Little Trunk Pond Trail, where you’ll hike 0.8 miles through woodlands and abandoned fields before reaching the swimming area. When you’re good and refreshed, head back the way you came!
Where: Little Tunk Pond Preserve, Tunk Lake Road, Sullivan
Fees: Nope!
Pets: Yep, on leash
Distance: 1.6 miles round trip
Difficulty: Easy
FMI: www.mainetrailfinder.com

Moat Mountain
Take the short hike to Diana’s Baths and stay there all day. Or Summit Moat Mountain and REALLY earn that post-hike dip. Shannon Bryan photos (the right one is by Wendy Almeida).

Moat Mountain and Diana’s Baths

You could enjoy an easy 0.6-mile hike directly to Diana’s Baths, or save it for later and summit 3196-foot North Moat Mountain via the Red Ridge and Moat Mountain Trails. The trail will loop you back down to the baths after you enjoy some incredible views.
Where: Westside Road, North Conway, NH
Fees: Day pass
Pets: Yep!
Distance: 0.6 miles straight to Diana’s Baths. 10.2 miles Moat Mountain Trail to Red Ridge Trail back to Moat Mountain Trail. Or do something in between and hike a few miles up and turn around for a few miles back. There are alot of open ledges with great views along the way, so you’ll still get some g
Difficulty: Easy to Diana’s Baths. Moderate/difficult for Moat Mountain summit
FMI: www.hikenewengland.com

Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery Trails, Orland

There are numerous options for your hiking and swimming pleasure at Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery. All the trails are easy going and family friendly. Trails lead both to Alamoosook Lake and Craig Pond for swimming. You can park as close to or as far from Craig Pond as you’d like, thanks to multiple parking areas. Be sure to stop inside the Fish Hatchery during business hours to learn more about fish biology and conservation through interactive and informative displays.
Where: Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery,306 Hatchery Road, East Orland
There are a few parking options, including near the swimming area at Craig Pond, at the Fish Hatchery, on Nature Trails Road, and the Craig Pond Access Road.
Fees: Nope!
Pets: Yep, on leash!
Distance: 2.7-mile trail network
Difficulty: Easy
FMI: www.mainetrailfinder.com and www.fws.gov/northeast/craigbrook

The Shore Trail at Dodge Point Preserve in Newcastle follows the water, and there’s access to a beach where you’re welcome to take a dip! Shannon Bryan photos

Dodge Point Preserve, Newcastle

It’s all about the Shore Trail! That’s not totally fair, actually. Dodge Point has 6.1 miles of trails and they’re all lovely. (But come on, that Shore Trail, with its pine needle floor and that view of the Damariscotta River, is just perfect.) Plus, the Shore Trail offers access to a beach and the water for a mid-hike cool-down. To get to the water, take the Old Farms Road Trail to the Shore Trail.
Where: Dodge Point Preserve, River Road, Newcastle
Distance: Shore Trail is 1.5 miles long, and spurs off the 2-mile Old Farms Road Trail loop.
Difficulty: Easy
Fees: None
Pets: Yep!
FMI: www.damariscottariver.org
I went! Read more about it: Trail run or easy hike with river views at Dodge Point Preserve in Newcastle

Slick Rock Trail and Little Dyer Pond – Hidden Valley Nature Center, Jefferson

Hidden Valley Nature Center boasts nearly 20 miles of trails for hiking and biking (and it’s a great place for cross-country skiing in the winter). But for a moderate hike and swim in Little Dyer Pond, take the 2.2-mile Slick Rock Trail. There are also canoes available for rent!
Where: Hidden Valley Nature Center, Egypt Road, Jefferson
Fees: Suggested donation of $5 per person per day
Pets: Yep, on leash!
Distance: 2.2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
FMI: www.midcoastconservancy.org and www.mainetrailfinder.com

Northern Pond Natural Area, Monroe

There’s a 2.2-mile trail network here, including easy and more difficult trails, depending on what you’re after. The best access to the pond (and the swimming!) is the easy-going Old Tote Road Trail, where you’ll hike through mixed forest and over narrow bog walkway before reaching the ledges on the pond where you can swim. If you keep going, you’ll find house-sized boulders draped with ferns, which are neat to explore
Where: Northern Pond Natural Area, Dahlia Farm Road, Monroe
Fees: Nope!
Pets: Yep, on leash!
Distance: 0.7 miles (Old Tote Road Trail), add more miles with the moderately strenuous 0.3-mile Hemlock Ridge Trail or easy 0.9-mile Thurlow Brook Loop Trail, both of which connect to Old Tote Road Trail
Difficulty: Easy (Old Tote Road Trail and Thurlow Brook Loop Trail), modertaly strenuous (Hemlock Ridge Trail).
FMI: www.mainetrailfinder.com
PDF of trails

Indian's Last Leap, Sanford swimming hole
The swimming hole known as Indian’s Last Leap is one swim stop on the Mousam River Trail. There’s also a family-friendly beach at Springvale Park, just up the trail. Shannon Bryan photos

Mousam Way North and Indian’s Last Leap, Sanford

Hike through Riverside Cemetery and along the Mousam River to get to Indian’s Last Leap, a cool swimming hole. Or wade into the family-friendly waters at Springvale Park. There are multiple places to park at various parts of the 3.9-mile trail network, allowing you to hike a longer or shorter distance, depending on what you’re up for. Part of the trail is pavement and crushed gravel, and in the woods the trail becomes more rugged and steep.
Where: Multiple places to park. Closest to swimming hole is Stanley Road, about a quarter mile from ME-109/11, in the dirt parking area next to the Central Maine Power substation. Also Springvale Recreation Area: just off ME-109/11 near Holdsworth Park. More here
Fees: Nope!
Pets: Yep, on leash!
Distance: Park right at Springvale Park for access to the river at the popular family beach, or hike less than 0.5 to Indian’s Last Leap swimming hole.
Difficulty: Moderate
FMI: www.mainetrailfinder.com
PDF of the trails

Shannon Bryan

Shannon Bryan

I don't like "exercise" any more than you do. But you know what I do like? Paddleboarding with a friend all afternoon (and then sitting in the grass to drink chardonnay). Bike rides and nachos, hikes, yoga classes held in breweries, group paddles to Fort Gorges, you get the idea. Because Maine is my gym.