Your guide to super secret, locals-only Hudson Valley swimming holes, 2019 edition

This is a swimming old called “Big Deep.” We could tell you where this is, but there’s really no point. (File photo by Dion Ogust)

There’s nothing quite like a cool mountain swimming hole when the mercury hits triple digits.

Sure, with air conditioning you don’t need to go swimming to cool off, but would you really be living your best life if you sat inside your climate-controlled apartment, opening and reopening Facebook on your phone? Of course not. It’s summer: You should be sitting on a towel on a rock next to a crystalline mountain stream… opening and reopening Facebook on your phone.


It is this allure that causes thousands of urban residents to converge on our fair valley on weekends like these. And now with social media, it’s never been easier to find places to swim. You don’t even need to ask a local and risk having an awkward social interaction. Just jump in the Zipcar and plug the address for the pulloff into Google Maps.

And least… that’s the way it was in past years.

Unfortunately, there are no swimming holes available this year in Upstate New York. They’ve been closed. Some say the coordinated closure for the 2019 season is being pursued because the swimming holes need to recover from being “loved to death.” Others cite various, overlapping and often contradictory state and local laws governing parking on narrow roadways, trespassing on private land, disturbing the migratory patterns of federally protected wildlife, and preserving the “quiet enjoyment” of local residents.

Already, a common scene has played out at many formerly popular local swimming holes, the sort of places that would normally be chock full of Frisbee-tossing, picnicking day trippers and their adorable dogs (and several contractor bags’ worth of trash come Monday): Car after car pulls up after the 90-minute-plus trip; the driver thrilled with the great parking spot, and the entire squad pleased at its ability to find a spot “not yet trashed by tourists.” All at once the scales fall from their eyes; they see the sign: SWIMMING HOLE CLOSED.

A typical amount of trash from a local swimming hole. Since all local swimming holes are closed this year, this hasn’t been a problem in 2019.

In a daze, they make their way back to the main road in silence and stagger into the nearest Yelp-approved eatery to regroup. There, the staff gives them the same bad news they’ve given countless times already this year. There is nowhere to swim. Yes, it would have been nice if the dozens of listicles on Upstate swimming holes had been updated. Yes, I guess that’s what we get for believing what we read.

Some of those hell-bent on swimming try to salvage the weekend by booking a room at a local hotel or pool-equipped short-term rental. But the results are less than satisfactory, and it’s generally agreed that if they’d known about the 2019 swimming hole closure, they would have made other plans.

Local officials haven’t yet decided if the swimming holes will be opened in 2020. If they are, we’ll let you (and everyone else) know. Stay tuned.