Mt Washington Valley offers many natural "watering holes" for swimmers
News from Mt Washington Valley, NH – July 7, 2016
Contact: Marti Mayne, 207-846-6331, PR@mtwashingtonvalley.org
MT WASHINGTON VALLEY’S “WATERING HOLES” OFFER UP GREAT NATUAL SWIMMING OPPORTUNITIES.
While most think of watering holes as beverage bars, Mt Washington Valley is replete with the more natural kind. Manmade pools are nice in the summer, and many of Mt Washington Valley’s lodging properties offer both indoor and outdoor options, but when it comes to the rush of the water, Mt Washington Valley’s natural ponds and waterfalls are where it’s at on a hot summer day. During the dog days of summer escape to one of these many natural watering holes and let the cool mountain streams and lakes cool you off.
Mt Washington Valley, NH offers a number of easily accessible free swimming spots and popular “watering” holes”. Take note: you swim at your own risk when enjoying these natural offerings.
Echo Lake State Park: From North Conway, turn west on River Road, then left onto Old West Side Road. Then follow signs to Echo Lake State Park. The lake is set directly at the base of White Horse Ledge with dramatic views of this well-known cliff. It’s one of the few places in Mt Washington Valley where you’ll find a sandy beach. There are also picnic areas, restrooms and changing rooms. You can access hiking trails from here, too. This is the only swimming hole where a nominal fee is charged. 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.
Diana’s Baths: From North Conway, turn on River Road which turns into West Side Road. You’ll pass the turn off for Echo Lake State Park, in just under a mile you’ll come to the parking area for Diana’s Baths on the left. Being part of the US National Forrest System, there is a large parking lot at the entrance to the hiking path. A self-service pay station which requires visitors to purchase and display a daily pass for $3 on the dashboard of your vehicle. Hike along a well-marked, wide gravel trail about 6/10 of a mile to a wonderful group of cascading falls and pools, waterspouts and granite basins that go for about. 75 feet in distance and make up Diana’s Baths. This is the ideal way to cool off on a warm summer day, accompanied by an easy hike for the whole family. Swimming below the falls is allowed, but is prohibited above them as the public water supply intake pipes are located there. On a warm full-moon night, this is the most romantic spot in Mt. Washington Valley! Note: The water levels and intensity of the water flowing in the brook can vary greatly depending on the season and rainfall, so beware after intense or days-long rainfall.
Saco River at Hussey Field: From North Conway, turn west on River Road and park roadside near the first bridge. You don’t have to go far from North Conway to find a great spot for a dip! Head for the Saco River for your swim, and the adjacent fields are perfect for a picnic, sunbathing or a game of Frisbee. Many people like to bring rafts or tubes and float in the River here as it meanders slowly. This is also a popular place to put-in a canoe or kayak. Chances are, you’ll find company enjoying each of these. There’s even a place to fill your water jugs with some great mountain water.
Jackson Falls: From Route 16A in Jackson, turn on to Carter Notch Road and follow the falls up to a picnic area at the side of the road. Park there and then enjoy climbing out on to the rocks and sitting in any number of small pools created by the falls. On a hot summer day, the gently flowing water will fall over your shoulders for the perfect water massage.
Kancamagus Highway, Lower Falls & Rocky Gorge: From Route 16 in Conway, head east on the Kancamagus Highway. Seven miles from Conway you’ll come to some of the best swimming spots in the Valley. First you’ll find Lower Falls, especially popular since it offers both fast and slow-moving water in small falls, small sandy beaches, picnic tables, parking and changing rooms. You can expect to run into fellow swimmers here as it’s very popular.
Rocky Gorge, is just 2 miles further down the road. Rocky Gorge is another easy walk along the Swift River that takes you over a foot bridge across the Swift River and takes you to a viewing area where there are informational postings. Head for the pools above the falls, as swimming is prohibited in the Gorge. Rocky Gorge offers a 10' drop and rapids through the gorge. This is a very powerful waterway, even during dry weather, making swimming dangerous.
Chocorua Lake: From Conway, head south on Route 16 about 10 miles. Chocorua Lake is on the right. Not only will you find the opportunity for a cool dip, but with Mt. Chocorua at the apex of this lake, the scenery is beautiful. There are two sandy beaches on the east side of the lake. One is open to the public and the other is reserved for town residents.
Weston’s Beach: From Main Street in Fryeburg, go north about 3/4 miles to Weston’s Farm Stand. Across the street, you’ll find a wonderful sandy beach on a curve in the Saco River, and certainly some company enjoying the wading and swimming from here. Again, this is a popular place for canoers and kayakers to put in, and the parking here makes access easy. The river is shallow enough here for the younger set too.
Fountains at Schouler Park: While it’s not natural and it’s not a swimming hole, one very popular place to take the kids to cool off is the playground at Schouler Park, adjacent to the North Conway Community Center right in the center of North Conway Village. Here a built-in sprinkler fountain shoots water at varying heights thrilling the younger kids reminiscent of running through the sprinklers at home.
For more information on visiting Mt. Washington Valley, call 1-800-DO-SEE-NH (800-367-3364) for advice on additional opportunities to cool off or visit www.mtwashingtonvalley.org for full vacation planning resources. Go to www.VisitNH.gov for great ideas on New Hampshire vacations.
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For photos from Mt Washington Valley, visit our online photo gallery at https://www.flickr.com/photos/mwvchamber/albums or request specific photos
from Marti Mayne at PR@mtwashingtonvalley.org.