In the Hudson Valley, the answer to this question is just as heavily-guarded as a secret family recipe: "Where's a good local swimming hole?"

Swimming Holes in the Hudson Valley, NY

The question was recently posted in a local hiking group on Facebook, and the answers from people who would rather take the answer to their graves poured in. "Nobody tells of a good swimming hole, especially in NY, because then it will no longer be a good swimming hole.." answered one secretive hiker. "I've been here 10 years and still can't get the intel", complained another. Some people even seemed to enjoy the swimming hole gatekeeping: "I know one that hasn't been mentioned and it's in Orange county [NY]. Explore u will find it like I did" hinted a very coy commenter. So what gives?

Though frustrating, it's understandable why natural, unregulated swimming holes are one of the most-kept secrets in the Hudson Valley. As one commenter said, "Swimming holes are kept as local secrets. It is a shame, the mess that gets left behind." That being said, we'll share some locations below. Just promise not to be a jerk and ruin it for everybody else. Also, some of these natural areas are regulated and within state parks, so prepare for an entrance fee.


Peekamoose Blue Hole, Ulster County, NY

This Catskills swimming hole was one of the "secret" destinations that has become massively popular in recent years. So much so that a day use permit is now required, and rules about what you can bring in are very strict. Blue Hole is worth it though, with beautiful (but freezing) natural spring water. Check out some drone footage below.

Lake Awosting, Kerhonkson, NY

Lake Awosting is located in Minnewaska State Park, and is also at the end of a challenging hike. Both facts that may help limit the crowds you find there. "Lake Awosting, but you have to earn it. About an hour's walk in from the parking lot, and you have to climb Cardiac Hill. Worth it" said a local hiker.

Minnewaska State Park Preserve
John Rozell: NYS Parks Recreation

There are several swimming options in Minnewaska, so even non-hikers can get their feet wet. Lake Minnewaska is a short walk from the parking lot and equally as beautiful. Another benefit of swimming in a state park is that there are docks, buoys, and life guards on duty during the season.

Fahenstock State Park, Carmel Hamlet, NY

Although it's not a "local" swimming hole, Fahenstock State Park in Putnam County, NY is as close to a public hidden gem as it gets. "Fahnstock State park in Putnam county has great hiking and a lake for swimming. The Appalachian trail goes right to the beach there", suggested a helpful commenter. Some people disagreed, however, saying "It's super shallow, you have to swim in the weeds. I could not find any nice swimming there."

More Swimming Holes in the Hudson Valley, NY

Some other notable options that are more "traditional" swimming holes include Split Rock on the Mohonk Preserve in Ulster County, NY and Wappingers Creek on Overlook Rd. Speaking of hidden gems, check out the abandoned Hudson Valley amusement park that hikers discovered below.

Abandoned Warner Bros. Zoo Discovered by Hikers

Back in the 1970s there was a Warner Bros. zoo and theme park near Greenwood Lake, and its ruins can still be found rotting away in the woods.

The 25 Absolute Best Hikes in the Hudson Valley

We've compiled a list of the 25 best hikes in the Hudson Valley. All of the hikes are of varying difficulties and lengths, so no matter your skill level or amount of time you have available there is a hike for you here.