5 Freshwater Swimming Holes

This past week, I read several articles about earth’s sixth mass extinction. The brains at Princeton, Stanford and UC Berkeley teamed up to show us that animals are disappearing at rates that haven’t been seen since that time all the dinosaurs got wiped out. We are on the brink of the earth’s next mass extinction and it’s due to human activity. So, guess who could be among the first victims of this catastrophic event… us!

As aquifers rapidly deplete around the world, and we contend with the hottest year on record—and while California, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and more cope with severe drought—it seems high time that we start to take advantage of the natural beauty around us. Before it’s gone. And before we’re gone, too.

This summer, skip the wasteful water parks (Slide the City? Please!) and get to a watering hole near you. Here are five swimming holes located an hour to 3 hours from DC:

Deep Creek Lake

Deep Creek Lake, the largest inland body of water in Maryland, covers 3,900 acres. It’s manmade, and resulted from the Youghiogheny Hydroelectric Company hydroelectric project on Deep Creek in the 1920s. Which is neither here nor there. What you need to know is that it’s surrounded by wooded hills and wildlife, and it has than 60 miles of shoreline, one of which is served for swimming, fishing and boat launching. Deep Creek Lake is located near Oakland, Maryland, and is about three hours from DC by car.

Deep Creek Lake

Deep Creek Lake

Cascade Lake

“Where Memories Are Made.” Now that’s a tagline! This is a six-acre lake surrounded by 70 acres of woods and green hills. The lake is spring fed and includes a roped-off swimming section with waterslides and platforms. It sounds like heaven to me.

There are also picnic tables and charcoal grills, a Cascade Café, giftshop and bathhouse. Cascade Lake is located in Hampstead, Maryland, about an hour and a half from DC. Price of entry ranges from $8 to $15 for both children and adults over 7 years old, depending on time of week and day. Visit the website for more detail.

Cascade Lake, by Bryan Costin via Flickr.

Cascade Lake, by Bryan Costin via Flickr.

Greenbrier State Park

Located in the Appalachian Mountains, Greenbrier Lake is a 42-acre, manmade, freshwater body of water popular for swimming, boating and fishing. Lifeguards are on duty in the swimming section—a portion of the lake that only reaches around 6 feet deep—from 11am to 6pm from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Lake Anna

This is one of the largest lakes in Virginia—measuring at around 13,000 acres and 17 miles long—and was formed by the North Anna Dam. It’s freshwater, and the beach, bathhouse and snack bar are open most weekdays and weekends. Visit the website for more details on opening times and dates.

Lake Anna is located a little over an hour and a half from DC in Spotsylvania, Virginia. It is part of Lake Anna State Park, where visitors can also go hiking and camping, or rent cabins.

Lake Anna, courtesy of the Virginia Dept. of Conservation and Recreation.

Lake Anna, courtesy of the Virginia Dept. of Conservation and Recreation.

Beaver Dam Swimming Club

Beaver Dam is a freshwater quarry (averaging around 40 feet deep) that covers around 30 acres in Cockeysville, Maryland. They’ve got a rope swing (!), volleyball/basketball courts, and grilling and picnics areas.

Beaver Dam is located about an hour and ten minutes from DC by car.


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