Aug. 6—Sometimes you want to cool off but don't want to deal with the fanfare of an actual beach day.
Fortunately, Maine's got tons of entirely refreshing spots, far from the frigid ocean and its summertime throngs.
We've rounded up a handful of swimming holes that you can head to whenever there's a heat wave, without having to worry about sharks or sand.
BABB'S BRIDGE, Windham
DIRECTIONS: From Portland, take Brighton Avenue into Westbrook, where it becomes Cumberland Street, and then River Road in Windham. Near the Gorham line, hang a left onto Hurricane Road and park along the west side of the river.
DETAILS: The historic Babb's Bridge spans the Presumpscot River. There are rope swings next to and under the covered bridge, and the water flows slowly. But don't go there hoping to actually jump off the bridge — that's not allowed for safety reasons.
COOS CANYON, Byron
DIRECTIONS: From Rumford, take Route 17 north through Roxbury.
DETAILS: Coos Canyon is on the Swift River in Byron, close to the Height of Land scenic overlook, where you can take in lovely views of the White Mountains. The roadside swimming area was created over many years by erosion. Expect steep cliffs, pools for swimming and wading, and flat rocks on which to hang out waterside.
FRENCHMAN'S HOLE, Newry
DIRECTIONS: In Newry, take the Sunday River Road for about 12 miles and turn onto Bull Bridge Road, where you'll find a parking area.
DETAILS: Father Time and a 10-foot waterfall did a wonderful job carving out this sweet spot on the Bull Branch River. It's a much loved locale in the state's western mountains, and it's not uncommon to see enthusiastic swimmers queued up to take the leap off the granite cliff into the clear water below. The shallow end is also available for the less adventurous.
INDIAN'S LAST LEAP, Springvale
DIRECTIONS: Take route 109 from Sanford to Springvale and head right onto Stanley Road. You'll find parking by a CMP substation.
DETAILS: You'll find Indian's Last Leap swimming hole along the Mousam River and you'll reach it via the scenic Mousam Way trail system that will bring you through Riverside Cemetery, along the river and through some fairly rugged terrain (so no flip-flops for this walk).
LAKE ST. GEORGE STATE PARK, Liberty
DIRECTIONS: From Augusta, take Route 3 east about 25 miles.
DETAILS: Technically this is a lake, but it's not one that tends to get crazy busy and the water is glassy and cool. During the day, there's a beach with lifeguards on duty. Wave to anyone you see fishing; they're hoping to snag some landlocked salmon and brook trout.
RATTLESNAKE FLUME AND POOL, Stow
DIRECTIONS: From Fryeburg, hop on Route 113 to Stone House Road, and you can park by the steel gate.
DETAILS: The 1.5-mile hike has some steep parts that will get your heart pumping and your brow sweating, so you'll be plenty ready to cool off in the blue-green mountain water.
SCREW AUGER FALLS, Bethel
DIRECTIONS: From the center of Bethel, take Route 26 north into Grafton Notch State Park.
DETAILS: The Mahoosuc Public Lands and Grafton Notch State Park is an area with an abundance of scenic spots that showcase Maine's western mountains. A highlight is Screw Auger Falls, with its 23-foot waterfall that empties into shallow pools in the Bear River. Feel the refreshing spray of the falls by standing at the base. Access it via a short walking path from a parking area you'll find on Route 26.
SMALLS FALLS, Township E
DIRECTIONS: About 12 miles south of Rangeley in Township E on Route 4.
DETAILS: This is a good spot to go wading with cliffs all around you, along the Sandy River and Chandler Mill Stream. You'll find hiking trails that will lead you in just a few minutes down some stairs and across a bridge to three waterfalls. Each one has a pool, and the first one you'll come to has a rocky shore, ideal for kids. Another one of the falls has an impressive 54-foot drop.