Natural Water Parks: New Hampshire


Hot and steamy weather has arrived at last. No matter that school starts for Ursula and Virgil in a week. They’re spending the last of summer submerged in water, pickling and pruning themselves in it.

Last night all four of us went for a swim in the pond before dinner, just to cool off enough to want to pick up a hot ear of corn and eat it. Afterward, sitting at the table with hair still damp, we started talking about great swimming spots. We’ve been doing a lot of lake swimming this summer, but that isn’t what the kids wanted to talk about.

“Remember the Baker River?” Ursula asked Virgil.

“Oh yeah! I love that place!” The Baker River is actually many places with a shared characteristic: a riverbed formed from glacially scoured granite — perfect for potholes and grooves and slides.

By the time we’d eaten our way through the sweet August corn, we had our top 3 kid-approved natural water parks. As it turns out, each of these places is near a well-known hiking area, which means that they can cap off (or should I say “cool off”) a day of hiking. But I recommend them as destinations of their own, just right for the lazy last days of summer. . .

Baker River Valley. The headwaters of the Baker River come out of a glacial cirque on the east side of Mt. Moosilauke and run south and east until the river joins the Pemigewasset River near Plymouth, New Hampshire. For swimming, try the town park in Wentworth, which is open to the public (especially good for very young children) and several places north of Warren along NH Route 118.

Sculptured Rocks State Park. Groton, New Hampshire. This state park, not far from Mt. Cardigan, is an example of the awesome hydraulic power of water carving through granite. Great jumping opportunities for elementary-school children and older!

Emerald Pool. North Chatham, New Hampshire, along the Maine border. To get to this superb deep-water pool, you need to hike approximately 3/4 mile on the Baldface Circle Trail, but the walk can be managed by toddlers. (Toddlers will also enjoy wading in the pool’s more shallow areas.) The trailhead begins a mile south of AMC’s Cold River Camps on NH Route 113.

Image: “Emerald Pool” by Albert Bierstadt, 1830-1902

Great Kids, Great Outdoors” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Kristen Laine.

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