Q&A: 16 Swimming Holes in Western MA


Lake Norwich in Huntington, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

One of our readers asked about swimming holes in Western MA to take her family to this summer, and while many locals keep their best swimming holes a treasured secret, several of our readers shared some of their favorite, not-so-secret, swimming spots in the region.

  • Aimee Welch Champion recommends: Plainfield Pond in Plainfield, MA.
  • Roberta Fortini-Curran recommends: North Pond in Florida, MA; Windsor Lake in North Adams, MA; Windsor Jambs in Windsor, MA; Onota Lake in Pittsfield, MA; and Margaret Lindley Park in Williamstown, MA.
  • Peter Freisem recommends: Chapel Brook in Ashfield, MA.
  • Kristy Matusiewicz Dyer recommends: Westbrook in Whately, MA.
  • Mary Anne Antonellis recommends: Lake Wyola State Park in Shutesbury, MA.
  • Abbe Laine Schiowitz recommends: Fiske Pond in Wendell, MA; and the covered bridge in Greenfield, MA.
  • Fran Lofland recommends: Skeeterville in Belchertown, MA.
  • Marya Kozik LaRoche recommends: Waterfalls instead of swimming holes.
  • Rebecca Trow Addison recommends: Green River between Greenfield and Colrain, MA.
  • Cheryl Svoboda Asher recommends: DAR State Forest in Goshen, MA.
  • Sarah Tutun recommends: Tri-town Beach in Whately, MA.
  • Belchertown Family Center recommends: Puffers Pond in Amherst, MA.

Know of a publicly accessible swimming hole in Western MA to recommend to families? Share it below.

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A Day at the Local Swimming Hole

Nothing Like a Swim

Swimming at DAR in Goshen

Swimming at the DAR in Goshen, MA (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Summer for us means a few trips away, a week of camp for each boy and many days of waking up in the morning and figuring out the day based on an algorithm of weather, health and how much energy the boys need to expend versus what I have to balance with work commitments.

It is hard to explain but easy to do. The upshot is swimming. All weather being fair, we calculate the amount of time we have for the project and then I pack snacks.

Swimming at Plainfield Pond

Cooling off at Plainfield Pond in Plainfield, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

When I have just a little time, we go directly to Northampton’s Musante Beach (Leeds, MA). For just a few dollars – or about $60 for the summer (depending on if you are a town resident or not), we can enjoy a life-guarded beach portion of the Mill River. The water is cold and clear. The current is unnoticeable unless like me you notice that it keeps the water nice and clean.

For all you parents, yes to bathrooms and life jackets, if you prefer them. Also, yes to the occasional ice cream truck- arm yourself with a few singles…if your kids are little you will enjoy how close the parking is to the spot where your kids will get to start playing.

Given a few more hours, we are likely to head to Puffers Pond near UMASS in Amherst. The kids love this oversized pond. Its water is perfect swimming temperature- chilled only when you get in and out. There is not that much sand to play with at the pond but it is nicely packed in for kids who like to drive their trucks around.

Sand Castles at DAR

Building sand castles at DAR in Goshen, MA (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

For parents of swimmers, there is no lifeguard on duty- or as I tell my kids, mama is on duty.  The upside side- yes to water wings, inflatable rings, rafts, pool noodles! You can even put in a canoe or kayak. Head’s up to parents: it can be a bit of a hike from roadside parking to parked on your blanket & there are port-a-pottties only.  It is all worth it, to find yourself in a sweet New England swimming hole.

Other places we land for a swim are the DAR (Goshen, MA) and our beloved Hampshire YMCA (Northampton, MA) on off weather days.

What about you? Where do you go when you want to jump in a lake?


Karen Bayne

Karen grew up in Manhattan and lived in Connecticut before moving to Northampton with her husband Matt to raise their boys. Her sons Isaac, Henry and Theo are 11, 6 and 4,  leaving Karen on a search for all the “just right adventures” that will wow them and wear them out.  She works as a birth doula, childbirth and parent educator in the greater Northampton area. She writes about mothering at Needs New Batteries and about birth in our culture at Gentle Balance Birth.


Q&A: Are Your Kids Still in Diapers? What Do They Swim In?


The options for reusable swimming diapers are numerous: Bummis Swimmis, Imse Vimse Swim Diaper, iPlay Swim Diapers and Kushies Reusable Swim Diaper are recommended by Western MA parents.

Are your kids still in diapers? What do they swim in?

  • Carrie Snyder writes, “We use the Bummis Swimmis reusable diaper!”
  • Diane Hinze Kanzler writes, “We used Imse Vimse Swim Diaper. Awesome.”
  • Nancyjo Craig Rongner writes, “Yes, but 60% potty learned. I love the iPlay Swim Diapers. They hold up really well and are adorable. Also, there are suits out there with built in swim diapers. We have also used a bum genius diaper when we were in a pinch! I think Cradle, Whole Foods, and A Child’s Garden all have reusable options.”
  • Sara Barry writes, “Bathing suit with a built in swim diaper or a cloth swim diaper from One Step Ahead (got it last year on clearance).”
  • Heather Richardson writes, “Reusable swim diaper.”
  • Natasha Anderson writes, “iPlay Swim Diaper… in a fun Hawaiian print!”
  • Lauren Koblara Kostantin writes,Imse Vimse Swim Diaper!”
  • Dawn Klein writes,Little Swimmers.”
  • Jennifer Shiao Page writes, “At home: nothing at all! Out and about: Kushies Reusable Swim Diaper under a one-piece suit.”
  • Karen Jaiclin writes, “Usually disposable swim diapers, but we just got them some swimsuits from One Step Ahead with built-in swim diapers. I like the idea of creating less waste, but I’m kind of afraid of what would happen if they actually pooped in one at the beach, though. Also not sure if others would give me the stink eye at a public pool for ‘not having them in swim diapers.'”
  • Jessica Montalino writes, “My 18 month old son uses Mother-Ease Swim Diapers. I love that they have snaps on both sides for easy on and off, and they’ve held in the poop really well on many occasions, but don’t fill up with water like other kinds I’ve used.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Q&A: Where Can Kids Take Swim Lessons in the Summer?


Swim lessons at Ashfield Lake. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Can anyone recommend a good place for kids to take swim lessons this summer?

  • Megan Rubiner Zinn recommends: “Craig Collins at the Valley Swim School (at the Clarke School, Northampton) is wonderful: www.thevalleyswimschool.com
  • Brooke Norton recommends: “I second Craig and the Valley Swim School. He’s great.”
  • Amy Meltzer recommends: “My kids have had great success with sharing a teacher for semi-private lessons at the YMCA in Northampton…”
  • Tom Adams recommends: “JFK Middle School, Northampton Rec.
  • Holly Banister Zimmerman recommends: “Valley Swim School, Craig Collins. He’s a great teacher!”
  • Katryna Nields recommends: “For Conway, Whately, Deerfield folks- the Tri-town Beach has excellent, cheap, flexible swimming lessons. Love them.”
  • Jamison Isler recommends: “Tri-town beach!”
  • Jill Kristek Payson recommends: “For Berkshire County Folks-the Dalton CRA!”
  • Yvette Sousa Estee recommends: “Wilderness Experiences in Southwick! Great people.”
  • John L. Grossman recommends:Holyoke Canoe Club, if you are member.”
  • Kate Erickson recommends: “The YMCA in Westfield is great.”
  • Sienna Wildfield recommends:“Swim lessons will be offered at Ashfield Lake in August.”

Related Post: Q&A: Outdoor Swimming Pools in Western MA

Q&A: Outdoor Swimming Pools in Western MA


Find an outdoor swimming pool in Western MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Can anyone recommend an outdoor swimming pool to take the kids to in Western Massachusetts?

  • Julie Gouldman Russell responds: If you happen to know someone who is a member – South Hadley has a great swimming club with an outdoor pool (or you could join yourself too).
  • Jude McGowan responds: Northampton Country Club (fee/membership); Autumn Inn Elm St. in Northampton (fee/membership)?
  • Jennifer Pierce responds: Mill River Recreation area in Amherst.
  • Julianne Thibodeau Krutka responds: I love the public pool over in Agawam! It’s sponsored by the state. It’s in a great location tucked away off of North St. The name of it is the Gerald J. Mason Memorial Swimming Pool. It’s on Armory Street. (413)786-6254.
  • Vicky George responds: Green River in Greenfield, MA. Just off I-91. It’s a part of the river that’s been made into a public swimming area, very nice. – DCR has a list of all public swimming pools in the state. Well, all the ones the Department of Conservation and Recreation has anything to do with.
  • Theresa J Kelly Russell responds: Buckland Recreation Area. Two pools (one for the little ones!).
  • Sienna Wildfield responds: A few more: Worthington Swim & Tennis Club in Worthington; Clarion Hotel in Northampton; John H. Thomas Memorial Swimming Pool in Springfield (Blunt Park Rd. 413-736-7699); Sara Jane Sherman Memorial Swimming Pool in Chicopee on Meadow Street.
  • Sandra Dias responds: Nonotuck Park in Easthampton. Chicopee also has a pool at Szot Park. There is a fee for both.

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