Where to Swim

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So where are all the hidden best places to swim on a hot summer day?

There are a number of great swimming spots on public land.   Please repect posted signs and do not swim on private land without permission.

Please be careful in the rivers and streams.  DROWNING at the FLUME.  Teen, to graduate tomorrow drowns swimming at the Flume.  Another teen still missing.

People do drown here. Stay out of fast moving water.  Jumping into a waterfall where you cannot see the bottom is a bad idea.  Good swimmers with knowledge of local swimming holes have drowned this way.  In 2003, 4 friends, 18-19 yo, all died in high water at Split Rock Falls (NY State land).  They were all strong swimmers who were familiar with the river there.  On July 22, 2010 a 12yo boy swimming with his father died after drowning at Champagne Falls in Keene(posted private land).   They had been swimming there for years.  Due to these accidents, both locations are now closed and patrolled at random times by NY State police.  They give out tickets, typically for parking, but possibly for trespassing.

The closing of Champagne Falls has been particularly difficult for the owners.  The area is obvously dangerous, even to swimmers who know it well.  They regret the change and ask everyone’s understanding.  Please do them the courtesy of swimming somewhere else.  Here are some suggestions:

Local Favorite Swimming Holes

On the West Branch of the Ausable, where the river cross Rt 86 near the Hungry Trout restaurant, there is a beautiful area called The Flume on State land and lot of people swim there.  June 27, 2014, two teens drown here while swimming.  Be careful people!  Don’t go in the river after a big rain.  Currents are far stronger than you think.  Appartently these teens would have graduated high school the next day, a terrible tragedy.

Chapel Pond, south of Keene Valley, attracts people who love to swim across and around the lake.  These people are getting a workout more than relaxing and playing in the water.  You can really swim here, unlike the river for example.

Copperas Pond on Rt 86 between Wilmington and Lake Placid.  It is a short hike with lovely swimming.

The Boquet River where it crosses Rt 73 south of Keene Valley has two nice spots. The Lower Pool is just upstream from the road walking up the north bank of the river. The Upper Pool (some call this the Shoebox) is about a ½ mile walk upstream following the south bank of the river.  It is fun on hot days.  The water is really cold.  This is a wilderness steam – this spot is the first place it encounters a road.  Be careful.

The Marcy Field swimming hole between Keene Valley and Keene, is a nice flat water spot for younger children and people who really like to swim.  A stone dam recently replaced the wood dam destroyed by Irene.

After a short hike up John’s Brook, you will find the Tenderfoot Pools, lovely crystal clear swimming in cool brook water.  Ask around or at Johns Brook Lodge for directions.

In Keene, behind the old school (now the Community Center), walk across the playing fields and there is a nice beach and swimming hole in the river there.

In Jay, the Covered Bridge Park is now better than ever as a swimming spot. The water flows over nice rock slides and it is much warmer than in Keene.

A great outing on a hot summer day is to visit the Lower Saranac Lake Islands. Take a canoe to the State Landing at Second Pond on Rt 3 past Saranac Lake or rent one (or rent a motor boat) at Crescent Bay Marina (518-891-2060). Many of the islands are day use areas with great swimming spots.  Or you can rent a pontoon boat at Swiss Marine (518-891-2130) like a floating patio – and go up through the locks to Lower Saranac and the islands.  It you rent a motor boat, remember to pass canoe boats slowly.

Mirror Lake in Lake Placid has a public beach.

Lincoln Pond is a great spot with few people and has a very nice sandy beach.  It is a NY State campgound about 20 minutes away.  Go through Elizabethtown and continue heading eart as if heading to Westport.  Just at the edge of Elizabethtown, there is a fork in the road – left goes to Westport and I-87, right goes to Lincoln Pond.

Please respect private land.  Landowners can be liabile for swimming accidents even when the land is posted.  Owners of stream frontage own the bottom of the stream to the middle of the main water course where they border the owner on the other side.  To be clear, boaters can paddle on a stream passing through private property, in a boat, without stopping and getting out except to scout and portage around dangerous areas of the stream.  The actual ownership of the water is very complicated by old water rights of logging companies and camps that existed long ago and it isn’t clear who or how the actual water is owned beyond these deeded riparian rights for taking water from a stream.

If you are really interested in this topic, this link takes you to the actual law regarding posting land, recreational activity, liability, etc.   Note the list of specified activites covered by the law includes: hunting, fishing, organized gleaning as defined in section seventy- one-y of the agriculture and markets law, canoeing, boating, trapping, hiking, cross-country skiing, tobogganing, sledding, speleological activities, horseback riding, bicycle riding, hand gliding, motorized vehicle operation for recreational purposes, snowmobile operation, cutting or gathering of wood for non-commercial purposes or training of dogs.  And note this list does NOT include swimming…almost everything is included, but not swimming.  If you want to change the situation with posting get in touch with your elected State respresentative and Senator and make the case to include swimming.  It would change a lot of things.