Cool spots for hot, summer days in Maine

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Summer in Maine means clambakes, bonfires, strawberries and visitors who come from near and far for a taste of “the way life should be.” Summer in Maine also means digging out the swim trunks and beach towels, dusting off the coolers, filling up the beach bags and backpacks, locating the perfect place to park a lawn chair and finding some cool, clean water to wash away the long winter.

Fortunately, Maine is blessed with an abundance of water, both fresh and salt, still and perpetually in motion, and so it’s never difficult to find a place to cool off and enjoy a lazy summer day.

Range Pond State Park, Poland

For those in Lewiston-Auburn who like to stay close to home or just yearn for a “quick dip,” Range Pond State Park on Lower Range Pond in Poland is a fantastic destination for a day trip with the kids, as well as a great place to relax, cool off and fire up the hibachi after a long, hot day. With lifeguards on duty, a long sandy beach, restrooms, picnic areas and ample parking that is close to the beach, it is family-friendly, comfortable, clean and convenient.

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Popham Beach, Phippsburg

A summer in Maine would not be complete without a trip to the ocean. Located in Phippsburg, north of Portland, it is a terrific day trip. With a large and scenic sandy beach, sandbars, an island, rocky outcroppings and tidal pools teaming with sealife, Popham Beach offers many opportunities for exploration and education. Although lifeguards are on duty, one must always be careful as this area has a rather strong surf and undertow.

Fort Popham, built in 1861, is located just two miles from the beach. With its arches, vaults, spiral stairs, loopholes and crescent shaped footprint, Fort Popham is interesting from both a historical and an architectural perspective.

Lily Bay State Park, Beaver Cove

On the shore of Moosehead Lake, just past Greenville, you will find Lily Bay State Park. This clean and somewhat remote State Park has a shoreline of small, smooth rocks and a gentle slope into the fresh water that is friendly for even the littlest swimmers. Although there is no lifeguard on duty, the swimming area is roped off and somewhat sheltered. There are picnic tables, a volleyball court, horseshoe pits, swing sets and a large grassy area available for playing. There is also a boat launch and docks a short walk from the swimming area, as well as hiking trails, quiet spots to catch some fish and, if you’re lucky, opportunities to see wildlife.

Pleasant Point Park, on the Saco River

Following footpaths through the woods at Pleasant Point Park will bring you to banks of the Saco River and a series of swimming holes. Some are easily accessible, while others have a tougher access. Some spots have small woodland beach areas, some have sunny rock outcroppings with small cliffs and rocks for jumping, and some have rope swings. There are no facilities or other amenities, and sturdy footwear is recommended.

Frenchman’s Hole, Bethel

A visit to Frenchman’s Hole, a cold mountain stream, is a great adventure on a hot day. It is a bit difficult to find, but well worth the effort. There are sunny spots to sit and places where kids can get into the water easily as long as adults take care to keep them away from the fast current that could pull them toward the waterfall. The 20’ waterfall empties into a gorge that is deep and wide enough for swimming, but challenging to get into and exit. The best way in the hole is to wade across the stream and jump in from the rocky cliff that was carved and smoothed long ago by the flow of water. It’s a good drop, so this method is not for the faint of heart. Again, sturdy footwear is recommended.

There are many shores and waterways to explore here in “Vacationland,” but it is important to always use good sense when swimming. If you do your research, bring the right equipment, carry plenty of fresh water for drinking and use appropriate personal flotation devices, your family and friends will enjoy a safe and memorable day at some very cool spots.

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