6 Maine summer hikes where you can go for a swim

By Lindsay Putnam, Bangor Daily News Staff

If you’ve ever been hiking on a hot summer day and wanted to jump in the water to cool off, we have great news. 

There are numerous Maine hiking trails that either lead to or past swimming holes that are bound to be more beautiful and less crowded than most of the public beaches.

Here are some of our favorite options. 

Schoodic Mountain near Sullivan

Technically, you don’t even need to do any hiking to get to Schoodic Beach. It’s merely a short walk from the trailhead to the beach. But if you’re up for a bit of a challenge, take the moderate 2.8-mile loop that starts on the Schoodic Mountain Trail near the outhouse. You’ll finish on the beautiful, sandy shore of Donnell Pond, a location known as Schoodic Beach.

Tumbledown Mountain in Weld

Tumbledown is a difficult-moderate hike, but the easiest way up is the 1.8-mile long Brook Trail that leads from the Brook Trailhead to Tumbledown Pond, near the east peak of the mountain. The challenge of this trail lies in crossing streams and brooks several times, as well as the rocky footing of the wider portion of the trail near the bottom of the mountain. 

Gulf Hagas near Brownville

Known as the “Grand Canyon of Maine” or the “Grand Canyon of the East.” To visit the many waterfalls and swimming holes of Gulf Hagas, hikers must hike into the Rim Trail, which travels over rough, rocky terrain along the edge of the river to many viewpoints. The Rim Trail is 3 miles long and visits (from east to west) Screw Auger Falls, Lower Falls, Hammond Street Pitch, The Jaws, Buttermilk Falls, Stair Falls, Billings Falls and the Head of the Gulf.

Bangor Daily News file photo
GULF HAGAS – An overlook side trail off Gulf Hagas Rim Trail leads to a view of Buttermilk Falls near Brownville.

Shore Trail near Flagstaff Lake

This is a great option if you’re looking to exert minimal effort. The 1.8-mile Shore Trail is fairly narrow with no big changes in elevation, and following it will bring you along the edge of the lake to Flagstaff Lake Hut, which is set back from the lake in the woods just far enough to not be visible from the water. Before reaching Flagstaff Lake Hut, the Shore Trail comes to a side trail that leads to a vista on a point — a nice place to watch the sunset or go swimming. As a bonus, the water of the Flagstaff Lake warms up quickly in the summer because the lake is relatively shallow, and in many places, the bottom is sandy, making it an excellent lake for swimming.

Morse Mountain and Seawall Beach in Phippsburg

In Phippsburg you can actually hike up and over a mountain, and come out on a beautiful sandy beach on the other side. The walk is about 2 miles, one way, and travels to the summit of Morse Mountain — just under 180 feet above sea level — then down to Seawall Beach. The entire walk is on an old road. If you’re looking for a more remote beach experience, this may be for you. There are no dogs, balls, frisbees, beach umbrellas, radios or fires permitted. And there are no bathrooms, either. 

Tunk Mountain near Franklin

The 1.8-mile Tunk Mountain Trail is short but effective and features several steep sections, including a spot where hikers must climb up using three iron rungs embedded into the rock. Spurring off this trail, the easy 1-mile Hidden Ponds Trail visits two remote ponds — Salmon and Little Long Pond — at the base of the mountain. It’s a great option for those looking for a less strenuous hike.

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