When the summer heat hits, it is always refreshing to go for a swim after a day's hike.
The following is a list (in no particular order) of the best (legal) swimming holes hikers may take advantage of this season.
Have your own favorite to recommend? Tell us in the comment section at the end--you must be registered on this website to comment.
Black Rock Forest, Orange County
Sutherland Pond is the only natural pond in Black Rock Forest, and swimming is permitted at your own risk. The Sutherland Pond/Scenic Trail/Eagle Cliff Loop will take you to this swimming spot.
Catskill Park, Greene County
The Mud Pond/Trout Pond Loop is the trail to follow for Catskills swimming, permitted in both ponds, though at your own risk. Mud Pond is located near some interesting ruins of old settlements, and Trout Pond is near a short trail which leads to a lean-to. This would be a good place to stop for lunch.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Ulster Co.
In addition to Lake Minnewaska, this preserve is home to the more secluded Lake Awosting. Swimming is permitted at both when lifeguards are on duty. This hike offers access to both swim areas: Castle Point Carriageway /Lake Awosting Carriageway /Upper Awosting Carriageway Loop.
Fahnestock State Park, Putnam County
Swimming is permitted at the north end of Canopus Lake when lifeguards are on duty. No maintained trails go directly to the beach. Several hikes can be accessed at the southern end of the lake. Try the Appalachian Trail/Blue Trail (Clear Lake) Loop from Route 301, which takes hikers across various terrains and past beautiful Clear Lake.
Mohonk Preserve, Ulster County
Swimming is permitted at Split Rock/Coxing Kill, though there is no lifeguard on duty. Per person fee required to access Mohonk lands. The Old Minnewaska Trail and Undivided Lot Trail loop takes hikers to various scenic spots and rock formations.
Wawayanda State Park, Passaic County
There is lots for hikers enjoy in Wawayanda, including historical sites, rocks to climb, 20 miles of Appalachian Trail and, in the summertime, a swim beach. Try the Pumphouse Trail/Laurel Pond Trail Loop before jumping in the lake.
High Point State Park, Sussex County
Climb to New Jersey's highest point from Steeny Kill Lake (no swimming), enjoy panoramic views across three states, then end your day by jumping into Lake Marcia to cool off (at the beach and when lifeguards are on duty).
Ringwood State Park, Passaic County
Swimming is permitted at Shepherd Lake Recreation Area during the summer months and when lifeguards are on duty. Several hikes in the area incorporate the lake: Mount Defiance/Skylands Manor Loop from Shepherd Lake, and Mount Defiance/Glasmere Ponds Loop from Shepherd Lake.
Norvin Green State Forest, Passaic County
Various hikes ranging in difficulty and length begin in the area of the Highlands Natural Pool, which is a good spot to return to for a dip once you've finished hiking. It is an "Olympic-sized, stream-fed freshwater pool" with no chemicals added. There are fees for non-members. Click here for hike suggestions.
Cheesequake State Park, Middlesex Co.
Enjoy a walk through upland hardwoods, pine barrens, fresh-water swamps, and a white cedar swamp, at Cheesequake State Park (exit 120 on the Garden State Pkwy), then hop in your car and head toward the coast and a swim in the Atlantic Ocean.
Bonus "Swike" Area
Delaware Water Gap, Warren County, NJ
Turtle Beach--on the Delaware River near the trailhead of the Kaiser Road Trail. A good hike in this area starts on the Coppermines Trail. (Click here for a 2010 news story about the beach, which opened in 2010.)