By Alex Elliot
Fall is right around the corner, and with it comes colder weather. While we hold on to the last few weeks of Summer, we may see a few more heat waves come our way. If you need a spot to stay cool during these days, read along for some of the best swimming holes in New Hampshire!
Sculptured Rocks (Groton)
Sculptured Rocks is a winding gorge carved by the Cockermouth River for thousands of years. The river left behind walls of smooth bedrock that almost look soft to the touch like a curtain frozen in the wind. Along with winding walls, there are plenty of potholes, where water pools, and pools big enough to even swim. The area is an NH state park, and attracts visitors of all ages. Whether you want to just wade through the river — exploring the gorge — or jump into the various deep pools, there’s plenty of things to do.
To get there, go to 251 Sculptured Rocks Road, Groton, NH 03241. There is a long dirt road that leads to the parking area, but there is plenty of parking. Once there, just follow the signs to the swimming holes.
Pollard Mills (Newport)
Pollard Mills is a small set of cascades on Sugar River in Newport, NH. It consists of several drops where water pools below — perfect for dipping your feet or jumping right in. It is a calm scene at Pollard Mills with trees providing much needed shade, and the rush of water drowning out the rumble of other visitors. Please be courteous if visiting, since the land is private property, but the owner is gracious enough to give access to respectful visitors. Bring a hammock, bring lunch, just make sure to pick up after yourself.
To get there, go to 5-23 Falls Road, Newport, NH 03773. At the end of the road, there is a small parking lot. From there, you can see the falls ahead of you.
Diana’s Baths (Bartlett)
A common swimming hole to experience, but a must have on any swimming hole list in NH is Diana’s Baths. As one of the more touristy spots in NH, it shouldn’t take much convincing for someone to go here. Diana’s Baths has a little bit for everyone: rock formations, waterfalls, swimming holes, and hiking. The main feature is the 75 total feet of cascading falls, spanning across hundreds of feet of smooth rock as part of the Lucy Brook. Much like Sculptured Rocks, there are plenty of natural potholes for all kinds of swimming.
To get there, go to 3725 West Side Road, Bartlett, NH 03812. From there, there are plenty of signs that lead to the falls. If you do go here, though, make sure to get there early, as the parking does fill up. If you’re not a morning person, there will still be parking for you, but it will be along the road about a mile away from the parking lot.
Glen Ellis Falls (Jackson)
Glen Ellis Falls is another tourist hot spot, but it has some hidden features not known by many. The main fall is a stunning 65-ft drop, with a beautiful crystal pool at the base, as part of the Ellis River. While this water may be enticing, it isn’t the best swimming hole to be had. At the base of Glen Ellis, you can hike even further down following the river. As you walk, you will be greeted by several more swimming holes, each one more secluded than the last. It is rare to see a crowd in these spots, so they become your own little oasis. These swimming holes all include their own countless waterfalls, small places to jump, and large enough areas to swim around.
Getting to Glen Ellis Falls is easy. Just go to Glen Ellis Scenic Area, Jackson, NH 03846. Like I said, once you get to the bottom of the main falls, just keep going down, following the river, and you will find the swimming holes.
Wildcat Falls (Merrimack)
Wildcat Falls is the highlight of the Wildcat Conservation Area and is part of the Souhegan River. The swimming hole has a soft gravel beach that can warm your feet on a sunny day, and it is perfect for a day trip, or a quick visit. While swimming in the water, you have a stunning view of the waterfall roaring over rocks. Accompanying the swimming hole is an easy 2-mile loop hike, beautiful views of the river, and lush foliage. If you do visit, don’t be afraid to explore the expanse of trails all throughout the conservation.
To get there, go to Wildcat Falls Parking Area, 35 Currier Rd, Merrimack, NH 03054. You will have to go through a residential neighborhood, but don’t be afraid; The locals are very friendly, and there’s plenty of public parking when you get to the location. Once there, just follow the main trail about a mile, and you’ll find the falls. Head to the base for some of the best swimming.
Upper Ammonoosuc Falls (Jefferson)
To top this list off is a swimming hole with some of the clearest waters you will see in NH, but some of the coldest as well. Temperature aside, this is a must visit. This swimming hole is a deep crystal pool with a towering rock wall on one side, and rock ledges and formations on the other. Upper Ammonoosuc Falls also goes by the name Cliff Jump, and for a good reason. It is a popular cliff jumping destination with jumps ranging from 5-ft to 40-ft. Even if you don’t go for a swim, it is still beautiful enough to go for the view.
To get there, go to Cliff Jump, Base Station Rd, Jefferson, NH 03583. It’s a long dirt road right next to the Mount Washington Resort. There is no specified parking for the location, but you can just park on the road. The falls can’t quite be seen from the road, but a bridge right above them can.