One of the best parts of summer is heading out the lake, pool or local swimming hole to cool off after a hot, hot day. Here are a few of the spots that will help your kids practice that frog stroke or pretend to be a mermaid:
Minnewaska, Belleayre, Lake Taghkanic
While known primarily for the hiking opportunities it provides, Minnewaska State Park Preserve also has one of our area’s key open water swimming holes. Head down the hill from Minnewaska’s main entrance and parking area, and you’ll find a gravel beach and bathrooms to get changed.
A little on the small size, the beach still packs a lot of fun for people who’d like their swimming to be in nature rather than in a pool. Admission is $8 per car, but people who buy the annual state Empire Passport for $65 get in free.
So Minnewaska has outdoor swimmers in southern Ulster County covered, but what about east of the Hudson River? Enter Lake Taghkanic.
Lake Taghkanic State Park, off of the Taconic State Parkway in Columbia County, offers another good place to swim with the kids. Unlike Minnewaska, expect a sandy beach here. For kids taking a break from splashing, there’s also a playground and hiking trails around the lake. Families who’d like to boat or kayak can rent one at the beach, too. It’s also $8 per car to get in, unless you’ve got the Empire Passport.
If you’d really like to make a go of it at Lake Taghkanic, with an extended stay, you can rent a campsite or cabin there.
For northern Ulster, Belleayre Beach on Pine Hill Lake is a good option. Another sandy beach, this one has a floating dock and lots of room to play. Belleayre doesn’t take the Empire Passport because they’ve got their own $65 season pass. Admission per car is $10, but senior citizens get in for free during the week and $8 on weekends. Rowboats, pedal boats and kayaks are also for rent at the beach.
Find Lake Taghkanic State Park at 1528 Route 82 in Ancram. Call (518) 851-3631 for more info. Minnewaska State Park Preserve is situated at 5281 Route 44/55 in Kerhonkson. For more information, call 255-0752. Lake Taghkanic and Minnewaska can also be visited online at https://nysparks.com. Belleayre Beach is located on Route 28 in Pine Hill. For more information, call 254-5202 or visit www.belleayre.com/summer/lake.htm.
Aerator at Ashokan Reservoir
Looking for a picturesque spot to spend a leisurely few hours? A dramatic view of the Ashokan Reservoir can be had from the 2.5 miles of scenic walkway that border its southern edge. And just below, where Beaverkill Road intersects Route 28A at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) site, a historic fountain sits in the middle of a five-acre public space off Monument Road. Welcoming 2,500 visitors each year between spring and the onset of winter, the park is a great place to picnic, rollerblade, bicycle, stroll and shoot photographs of the enveloping Catskill Forest Preserve.
The fountain itself replaced an original aeration system during the 1982 installation of two hydroelectric turbines, operated by the New York Power Authority to produce 4,700 kilowatts of electric power for the region’s surrounding electrical grids. Considering the pastoral nature of the grounds around the fountain, it’s hard to imagine that much power being generated just below the surface!
As one of two giant reservoirs in the New York City Catskill Water Supply System, the Ashokan Reservoir holds 122.9 billion gallons of water when it’s at maximum capacity, fulfilling approximately 40 percent of the City’s requirements at the rate of one billion gallons per day. Keeping nine million residents in good, clean drinking water is the primary management goal of the DEP near Olivebridge. Recent valve work has improved the operation and the entire system’s reliability at a total cost of $4.9 million, but local families and visitors to the region can enjoy the beautiful public-use area free of charge from sunrise to sunset. Fresh air, cool mists on a hot day and the vast beauty of the Catskills: Check it out.