Make a Splash: Swimming Holes in Western Maine

May 10, 2020 in After Hours, Summer Fun - 4 Comments
Cliff jumping into Frenchman's Hole on the actual Sunday River in Western Maine

Before moving to Maine, hitting up a swimming hole on a hot day was the farthest thing from my mind. Pools? Sure. Lakes? Okay. I could even get behind a dip in some salt water. But a swimming hole? It sounded too backwoods for me.

But here’s the part where I tell you that I was totally missing out all of those years. The region surrounding Sunday River is ripe with swimming holes where the water is crystal clear and cold as can be, but completely refreshing on a sweltering summer day.

My favorite swim spots in the region are Frenchman’s Hole, Wild River, Step Falls, and Rattle Snake Pool, but the Bethel Chamber of Commerce also recommends Honey Hole, just upstream from Frenchman’s, the Letter S, just downstream from Frenchman’s, and Emerald Pool on the Bald Face Trail in Evans Notch.

Frenchman’s Hole—Bull Branch Rd., Riley Township, ME
Hands down, the best part about Frenchman’s Hole is the cliff. You can flip, jump, and dive off of this cliff into the depths of the chilly water, while more timid friends and family hang out up top in the shallow waters.


The Wild River—Rt. 113, Evans Notch
With so many places to pull off on the side of Route 113, it’s easy to find a peaceful spot to call your own in Wild River. For a beach-y experience, head to the walking bridge, cross to the other side, and hang out on the sand between dips.


Step FallsRt. 26, Grafton Notch
My favorite thing about Step Falls is the short hike in. Sometimes, I need to work up a sweat in order to gather the courage to submerge myself into the cold water. And once you reach the top, the views of the notch over the cascading water makes for a pretty picturesque day in Western Maine.


Rattle Snake PoolStone House Trail, Evans Notch
This one is a little bit farther out, but totally worth the drive and the short hike in. You’ll take the Stone House Trail to a sign for the Rattlesnake Flume and Pool. Reminiscent of a lagoon, the blueish green water is known for being ice cold, but it’s a perfect respite on a hot day, and a great cool down after hiking Blueberry Mountain.


Whether you’re just here for a visit or a local swimming hole aficionado, let us know where your favorite swim spots are! (Unless you have a top secret spot—Bravo, you sneaky swimmer.)

Karolyn Castaldo

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  • Fred Call July 24, 2016 at 9:23 am

    Please stop sharing swimming hole locations online. The real locals hate your guts for it. These are our special places and they are being ruined because of articles like this. Too much traffic at swimming holes is destroying the culture of the area we grew up in.

    • Sunday River July 26, 2016 at 5:04 pm

      Hi Fred! We’re sorry that you feel that way. Lucky for you, the swimming holes detailed above are some of the most well-known in the area and are loved by natives and visitors alike. We’ve purposely kept the hush-hush ones totally secret for locals like you. We liken it to everyone knowing that Poppy Fields is the best cut glade on the mountain, but there are secret spots all over the place that we wouldn’t even tell our grandma about. Thanks for the feedback!

  • bigspencer14 February 20, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    Those growing up after us..Fred..are more into the group-thing;-) The group-thing isn’t that bad though since it’s the way to preserve the places from development….these days.

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