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Hudson Valley Swimming Holes
Where to Swim in the Hudson Valley
date posted: June 15, 2010
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A "Hole" Lot of SWIMMING SPOTS
An honest-to-goodness natural swimming hole has got to be the ultimate water happening—as, most often, everywhere you turn the views are magnificent. From waters majestically streaming from a waterfall to the lazy stillness of a lake, there is a calming beauty awaiting us.
It’s satisfying to discover obscure swimming holes, but it’s also sometimes nice to enjoy a barbecue with family after swimming at the town beach, where local folks relish the reward of chilly waters washing away the sweat of the day. Whether hiking to a swim spot or parking yards away, going to a swimming hole is like entering the nostalgia of nature—something you may have only thought possible in the times of Huckleberry Finn. So take the plunge and try one or more of our favorite swimming holes.
Flowing streams run off the Catskill Mountains throughout Ulster County, carving rocks to create a multitude of beautiful water holes.
An easy, short stroll down to the creek brings you to this delightful swimming area bordered with lots of large flat rocks for sunning. And although there’s not much water here during a dry winter and spring, this year has been flowing strongly. Glasco, lat=42.02036, lon=-73.98136
Located on state land, a small, but adventurous, side trail leads to the spectacular falls cascading down about 30 feet to a large deep basin measuring about 20 to 30 feet in diameter with a center depth between 6 and 8 feet. With recent rains it should be like a giant, cold-water Jacuzzi, say the locals. Otter Falls is only about a half-mile from the popular Giant Ledge trail parking area, making it an excellent stop after a hot, sweaty hike. Sundown, lat=42.0314, lon=-74.4201
Directions: From I-87, get off at Exit 19, Kingston exit, RT 28. Go northwest on RT 28 about 25 miles to Phoenicia. Then:To get here from RT 28 in Phoenicia: Continue west on Rt 28 through Shandaken to Big Indian. Turn south (left) on RT 47 (set odometer) and go about 6.6 miles to a telephone pole with mile post #167 1/2 on it. Other things to look for are the state land signs (the yellow ones with the DEC logo). This state land is the only State land on the west side of Route 47 in Big Indian Valley. (If you come to the "hairpin turn", an extremely sharp right hand turn, on RT 47, you have gone about .5 mile too far.)
PEEKAMOOSE BLUE HOLE:
Located on the Rondout Creek, locals call this just plain “Blue Hole” because the water’s so frigid it can make one blue. However, in actuality, it is called “blue” by reason of its unpolluted clarity—when standing on rocks above, the hole appears a hue of true blue as the purity reflects the sky above. With waters rushing through a gap in a rock, a very deep pool of certifiably refreshing and invigorating water awaits you at the end. What’s even better, it’s a short path to the creek and the hole is hidden! Peekamoose, lat=41.9182, lon=-74.4215
Directions: From Kingston, go west on RT 28. PASS THE LEFT TURN FOR RT 28A. Go another 10 miles. Then in Boiceville, go left on RT 28A about 2 miles to West Shokan. Then at the intersection of RT 28A and RT 42 in West Shokan is a series of hanging wooden signs; the top one says "Town Offices", the bottom one says "Sundown". Turn right (southwest) on county RT 42, toward Sundown. Go about 10 miles on RT 42 until you see a large parking area on the right with a sign for the Peekamoose Mountain area. Park here and cross the road to the creek and walk back the way you came a short distance then down a short path to the creek. The swimming hole is here.
SPLIT ROCK HOLE:
A diverse swimming area in Coxing Kill where the creek plunges into a small gorge of solid rock and streams out on the other end into a pool. One has the choice of jumping into the gorge, which is allowed, to take in the waters or have a less adventurous swimming experience in the creek, or go further downstream. Split Rock Hole requiresa significant parking fee, but if you haven’t been there, it’s worth it. lat=41.73961, lon=-74.20356
Directions: Go over the mountain on RT 44/55 then turn right at the 2nd road on the right after you go over the top of the mountain (Clove Rd., about 2 miles from RT 299 intersection.). Keep to the right on this dirt road, over bridges, until you get to the large, manned, parking area on the left. Pay fee here and walk very short distance down path to swimming place.
STONY KILL FALLS:
This spot features a spectacular, 87-foot high waterfall in the town of Warwarsing. However the swimming hole is above the falls, not below. And up behind a rock dam, there’s a traditional clothing-optional place for swimming in the rough. This pool is known as “Nudist Pool” as it is traditional to skinny-dip in the clean spring waters. Beyond the pool the river can be followed upward for several miles, where the hiker will come across many pools and small cascades as the river winds up the hill. Kerhonkson. lat=41.72778, lon=-74.30101
Just off Zena Road before getting into mainstream Woodstock, you’ll find some great little swimming holes along the Sawkill Creek. Woodstock.
THE BIG DEEP:
A trail takes you to a stream and a swimming hole— You can dive in off rocks without fear of touching bottom or do a cannonball off the rope swing. All this in a secluded setting, just minutes outside of Woodstock.
Locals sometimes call this “Trails End.” This combines a scenic, two-mile hike (one-way) to a beautiful waterfall and swimming hole in Vernooy Kill surrounded by hemlocks and shrubs on state land. A local fan described this as a wonderful place in the Catskill Park Preserve, where visitors can camp anywhere away from streams and trails. The hike into the swim hole sports an elevation gain of about 600 feet in a one-mile stretch ending at the refreshing cold water—even in summer. If the 45-minute hike doesn’t get your blood flowing, the fresh, cold water will. Kerhonkson, lat=41.87194, lon= -74.37083
Directions: To get here from RT 28A in West Shokan: Continue on RT 28A (along the Ashokan Reservior) past the intersection with RT 213 near Olivebridge to the intersection with RT 3. Take RT 3 southwest (becomes "Sampsonville Rd.") for about 7 miles (just past Sampsonville) to the Riggsville/Palentown area. Turn right (northish) on Sundown Road. Follow Sundown Road for about half a mile, turning right at a slight fork. At the second fork (with a big tree in the middle island), turn left on Trail's End Road (the sign is hard to see from the direction you're coming from - look up and around you). Follow the steep road up, but beware of rocks and pits in the 'road.' There are a few pull-out parking spots along the way up if you are afraid to drive further. At the road's end, there are numerous parking spaces.
Secret Swimming Holes...no GPS needed— just ask a local!
There are several “locally known” swimming places hidden within the back hills and valleys of Ellenville, Accord, Kerhonkson, and Alligerville that are enjoyed by many. So if you’re not in-the-know about them, we suggest you shout out to a local as you’re taking a drive and enjoying the picturesque scenery of these areas. We’re sure someone will share the secret!
The lands extending east of the Hudson River are dotted with lakes and ponds perfect for cooling off on any summer day.
TACONIC STATE PARK, RUDD POND AREA:
225 country acres featuring a sandy beach and clear water swimming. Also boat rentals, children’s play area, flush toilets, picnic tables, fishing, forestland, and skating. On County Route 62, Millerton. Hours: May-Labor Day, 8am to 9pm. Parking: $7. Camping rates: $13 per night on ground; $14 per night on platform. RVs up to 20 feet accepted. Contact: 518-789-3059; Reservations: 1-800-456-CAMP.
WILCOX MEMORIAL PARK:
Refreshing lake swimming is yours for the day. But if you want more, there’s boat rentals, fishing, children’s play area, hot showers, shelters and pavilions, picnic tables, open athletic fields, nature trails, and miniature golf. Plus 27 campsites, including 10 RV trailer sites with water and electric hook-up. On Route 199, Stanfordville. Hours: May-Sept. Call for rates. Contact: 845-758-6100.
A 280-acre park featuring a lake for cool, crisp swimming. Kayaking and canoeing also a treat. Located in Pawling at 2 Lakeside Drive. Hours: Open year round from dawn ‘til dusk. Rates: Non-resident day rate for swimming: $10 for individual and $15 for families. Contact: 845-855-1131.
TOWN OF WASHINGTON TOWN PARK:
A really cool pool—actually an old-fashioned beach basin that is drained seasonally, so it’s more like natural swimming. Open weekends from May 29 to June 12 and daily from June 19 to August 22. Contact for residency requirements: 845-677-8278.
BEACON RIVER POOL:
Innovation at its best! Created from an old concept of a floating structure in larger bodies of water, this pool provides safe swimming with wading areas in the Hudson River. Partially submerged in the water, the pool allows river waters to flow through. A ramp from the rivers’ shore leads swimmers to the pool. Floatation/seats line the pool’s perimeter for spectacular river views. The pool is used from early July to Labor Day. Contact: 914-629-4598 or 845-494-2174.
Take precautions along paths as erosion and water can create slick conditions. As a general rule, use common sense and be aware of the loose rocks, dirt and water-slick stones as some spots can be dangerous or deadly if not careful.