You walk toward the office door, fueled by an excited relief to be finished with a long day. Your awaiting 5pm-9pm is a world of opportunities: Go for a run? Organize your closet? Cook an elaborate meal? Nap?
You push through the double doors with purpose, and bound out onto the sidewalk. The heat accosts you. Beads of sweat instantly appear on your skin, and your crisp, collared shirt sticks to your back in long strips. You're suddenly very aware of every pore, the exact dimensions of your underwear.
Welcome to the first mega heat wave of summer in the Hudson Valley. When you leave the comfortable, air-conditioned havens of your office/home/car/bank/supermarket, it becomes increasingly difficult to move, let alone think about anything except for one thing: swimming.
To help you get through this week's lethargy-inducing heat, here are our top five picks for places to swim in the Hudson Valley. Go on, cool off—you deserve it.
1. Lake Awosting
If you're a firm believer in working up a sweat before relaxing with a swim, Lake Awosting is a good pick. Whether on a bicycle or your two feet, work your way from the Minnewaska State Park Preserve through the challenging, hilly, approximately four-and-a-half mile trails to the secluded mountain lake. Make sure to spend some time on the Blueberry Run Trail for some mid-trip refueling.
2. Peekamoose Blue Hole
The swimming hole on the Rondout Creek gets its name because of the water's crystal-clear, cerulean hue. Brave the natural swimming hole's freezing temps, then warm up on one of the slabs of rock that surround it. There's free camping along Peekamoose Road in three different areas (upper, middle, and lower fields). Lounge waterside all day, then cozy up by a campfire when night falls. Due to incredibly high volumes of swimmers in recent years (think thousands per weekend), which has caused site damage and trash build up, the DEP is now requiring day passes to access the Blue Hole on weekends and holidays. Get your day pass.
3. Taconic State Park
Located along 16 miles of the Taconic Mountain Range, sharing a border with Massachusetts and Connecticut, the oldest state park in the Taconic Region offers swimming at Copake Falls and Rudd Pond, where there are also rowboats and canoes available for rent. If you want to extend your visit, both areas of the state park offer camping, and there are extensive trail systems to explore, including hikes that lead over the border to Bash Bish Falls, the highest single drop waterfall in Massachusetts.
4. Kaaterskill Falls
The subject of many Hudson River School paintings, the two-drop cascade is one of the most popular waterfalls in New York, and, at 260 feet, one of the highest. Located in the eastern Catskill Mountains between the hamlets of Haines Falls and Palenville, the Kaaterskill Creek is home to many swimming holes, including a natural pool formed by the upper section of the falls.
5. Belleayre Beach
In the summer months, the popular ski mountain offers a mellow, family beach experience at the lake at Pine Hill. This isn't just a great swimming spot—it's a venue for all of your favorite water activities, including a diving dock, row and pedal-boating, kayaking, and fishing. If you need a break from the water, the beach also offers picnicking, horseshoe pits, volleyball, and basketball.