On a hot day, you can sit under a waterfall, swim in a lake, or jump in a creek at one of these refreshing natural swimming holes. Some places require a lifeguard on duty, or allow swimming in restricted areas. Please check their website before you go to make sure they are open.
Be mindful of signs posted and use common sense when deciding to wade in. Often heavy rains can fall upstream—even though the skies may be clear where you are—causing deadly flash floods. Know before you go! Bring a healthy respect for the power of water and the nature that thrives here and you’ll enjoy a beautiful day!
Swimming Under Waterfalls
1. Robert H. Treman State Park
Swim in a stream-fed pool beneath a Enfield Glen’s waterfall. Swimming is allowed in the life-guarded area only. Enjoy nine miles of hiking trails that follow the gorge past 12 waterfalls, including the 115-foot Lucifer Falls.
2. Buttermilk Falls State Park
Swim in the life-guarded pool beneath Buttermilk Creek’s lower falls.
3. Fillmore Glen State Park
Enjoy the cool water of Dry Creek’s stream-fed swimming pool.
4. Grimes Glen
The glen is public, free, and you are encouraged to walk in the water. Most people look forward to wading the creek to the first and second falls–both 60′ cascades. This is an unguarded area, so enjoy Grimes Creek at your own risk.
Swimming in Creeks & Rivers
5. Taughannock Falls State Park
There is no swimming beneath Taughannock Falls, though wading in Taughannock Falls Creek down steam of the falls is permitted, though unguarded.
6. George Bridge
Oatka Creek passes through Scottsville on its way toward the Genesee River. “The George” is a favorite for bridge jumpers, though it is an unguarded activity.
Oatka Creek is generally shallow enough to wade but directly under the bridge it’s much deeper. When creek water depth is 8 or 9 feet deep it is generally safe to jump from The George—at your own risk. Look for a rope for swinging into the waterhole as well.
On a hot day, I prefer to wade in upstream in the shade of the Rochester Street/NY-251 bridge—the point-of-view from the photo above.
For a little more history of the area, check out this article in the Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.
7. Stony Brook State Park
Swimming in Stony Brook is permitted only in the sectioned-off natural stream-fed pool. Wading is discouraged along the rest of the gorge. The North Entrance for day use visitors features the pool, a picnic area with tables, grills, restrooms, playground, and entrance to the hiking trails.
8. Zoar Valley
From the Buffalo Spree article, “…go to the Valentine Flats access point. The trail is wide but unblazed, and easy to follow if you follow these few directions: At the Y at the top of the gorge, … head right to safely head into the canyon and the rock beaches along the water’s edge. There is another Y at the bottom of the gorge; right takes you to the confluence of the main and south branches of [Cattaraugus] creek, left to a rock beach below the rapids. Here you can safely dip a toe into the water and look up at the 400-foot cliff walls, and the old growth stretching out of them, on all sides.”
9. Beaver Island State Park
The idea of swimming in the Niagara River seems daunting knowing that Niagara Falls is just down stream, but you can safely do so in Beaver Island State Park, located at the south end of Grand Island. The 950-acre park has a half-mile sandy beach for swimming, adjacent 80-slip marina, fishing access, multiple canoe/kayak launches, bike and nature trails, nature center, an 18 hole championship disc golf course, an 18-hole championship golf course.
Swimming in Lake Ontario
10. Sodus Point Beach Park
Enjoy a beach day on this sandy shore, right next to the pier.
11. Ontario Beach Park
Ontario Beach Park is located at the northernmost tip of the city of Rochester, and is bordered on the East by the mouth of the Genesee River.
12. Durand Eastman Beach
The beach boasts 5,000 feet of Lake Ontario waterfront. Swimming is supervised by beach guards in its designated area (Lot A).
13. Fair Haven State Park
Fair Haven has one of the finest public lakefronts in upstate New York, with towering shoreline bluffs, sandy beaches and adjoining hilly woodlands. The park features 1500 feet of beautiful sand beach including 600 feet of guarded swim area.
14. Hamlin Beach State Park
Hamlin Beach State Park’s clear water, sandy beaches and 264 tent and trailer campsites bring thousands of visitors to the park each year.
15. Wilson-Tuscarora State Park
Tuscarora Beach has a narrow, rocky shoreline with enough sandy to make it feel beachy. There is a small roped-off area for swimming when a life guard is on duty. Even though it’s a small state park, there is a bath house with showers available.
16. Irondequoit Bay State Marine Park
Enjoy a small, sandy beach next to the pier.
17. Selkirk Shores State Park
This is a good sized sandy beach with a rocky shoreline. Located in Pulaski, it’s a est-facing beach, perfect for watching the sun set over Lake Ontario.
Swimming in the Finger Lakes
19. Kershaw Park
20. Ononda Park
21. Deep Run Beach
22. Long Point Park
29. Myers Park
30. Emerson Park
Allegany State Park
33. Quaker Lake
34. Red House Lake
36. Oneida Shores
37. Sylvan Beach
Not-so-natural swimming areas
Though the topic of this article is natural swimming holes, I thought it fair to mention that there are other places to cool down on a hot day in the form of pools and water slides.
Pools in State Parks
When May comes around, you find the amusement parks with dry-rides opening on the weekends, with the water parks opening closer to Father’s Day in mid-June.
Venture into one of these New York State Parks within a two hour drive of Rochester and discover what makes them each unique!
Water trails are either formally marked routes along a navigable waterway, or simply any waterway suitable for kayaks and small motorized watercraft.
Where are your favorite swimming holes around Rochester?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!