Swimming Around Northfield

Updated: 2020 by Chris Collet

Note: park entrance signs are painted brown with yellow lettering.

Points East via Warwick, MA

There is no mobile signal near Warwick, so GPS apps likely will stop working. All destinations are 25-35 minutes by car each way.

Going into town from the ridge, turn left onto Warwick Rd at the IGA. Alternatively, you can go left on Birnam Rd just after the barns or via North Lane and follow that behind the golf course to Warwick. Shortly after your first left on Warwick Rd, keep left at the fork. Follow several miles until first stop. Then:

Laurel Lake

The entry fee lately has been waived for Covid. Boat launch past ranger station is closed for construction. Bathrooms available.

Large, sandy beach area with lifeguards and roped swimming area. Long, shallow entry with very clear water and sandy bottom. No rafts or noodles allowed, PFDs only.

Trail to the left past kiddie area leads to many small sitting areas with camp grills and fishing spots. Private residences on other side of lake occassionally take out motorboats.

Sheomet Lake

See Warwick driving directions. From Athol Rd, take the left into Warwick State Park at sign. Fork right and go down along the lake edge. Turn left just after crossing the creek. The dam is a good jumping off point for swimming, or follow the road to the beach at the end.

Similar size and scenery to Laurel. No motorboats or houses, but water is muddy and beach is rocky. Several islands in middle of the lake for exploring. Water shoes recommended for beach and islands. Suitable for paddling.

Tully Lake


  1. See Warwick driving directions.
  2. From Athol Rd, after Warwick State Forest and Royalston Rd at edge of Tully Pond, turn left onto Fryeville Rd.
  3. At the next stop, turn left onto Rte 32 and follow half a mile to the Tully Dam. There is a parking lot with a scenic view of the powerhouse and lake on the right.
  4. Cross the dam and enter the public recreation area on the right. Park in the upper area and walk down. Take a left onto the lake trail at the picnic area, and swimming spots begin after 100 ft. Boat launch is at the bottom of the rec area.

Lake edge is mostly shady. Long, shallow entry is sandy at the edge and becomes rocky quickly.

Water shoes are optional. Large, beautiful lake with several sandy islands for exploration by boat.

Just a bit farther up on Rte 32 from the rec area, turn right onto Doane Hill Rd toward the campground. Another boat launch is across from campground, with access to the lake on the left and to Long Pond on the right. Past the boat launch on the right is the trailhead for Doanes Falls, a short hike with 3 waterfalls. Water shoes recommended for swimming under falls.

The disc golf course is closed due to Covid. From Fryeville Road, rather than turn left to go to the lake, continue straight onto Logan Road. Turn left at the end onto Old Keene Rd, which leads to the course.

Points south in MA

Millers River


  1. Take Rte 63 South out of Northfield
  2. At entrance to Northfield Mountain on your left, turn right toward Riverview Picnic Area.
  3. Turn left and follow the road 2 miles along the river to the pedestrian bridge. Park on the side of the road. Optionally park at the picnic area and bike.

The pedestrian bridge spans the Miller River where it meets the Connecticut and has a pretty view of the French King Bridge. The adventurous can jump from the middle of the bridge, either from the wood railing or by climbing out onto the metal frame. Jumpers might reach the bottom and get stuck in the mud or hit a rock. There is also a sharp descent on the far side of the bridge to a rope swing off the concrete bridge piling. Watch for rope burns or the rope snapping. Past the bridge, there is an old barn and path down to the narrow point where the rivers meet. More jumping off the rocks to the right. To the left is mostly a fishing area with hooks and glass in the mud. Avoid going out into the Connecticut, where currents are strong and can overtake even strong swimmers.

On the return, don’t turn car around but head straight onto Dorsey Road. Turn right onto Rte 2A at end and pick up Rte 63 North back to Northfield.

Green River

Directions (20 minutes each way):

  1. Take Rte 10 out of town past the interstate to Bernardston.
  2. Turn left onto Rte 5 to Greenfield.
  3. Entering town, after the Rte 2 interchange, turn right onto Silver St and follow to end
  4. Turn right onto Leyden and take first left onto Nash’s Mill Rd and follow to the recreation center.

Entrance fee of $28 for family of 4 with season passes available. Bathrooms and snack bar. No Pets.

Sandy beach with lifeguards on one side. Far side is grassy area with picnic tables and steps to enter water, accessible by walking bridge over the dam at end of swimming area. Bottom is sandy, and water is very cool.

Deerfield River

Ziplining is open at Zoar Outdoor on the Deerfield River. Allow 3 hours for the course plus 90 minutes round trip. Rafting trips there are limited due to Covid. Take the detour through main street of Shelbourne Falls to see the Bridge of Flowers and geologic potholes on the way.

Chapel Falls

Directions (45 minutes each way):

  1. Take I-91 South to exit for Deerfield/Conway.
  2. At end of ranp, turn right onto Rte 116 and follow througn Conway
  3. Entering Ashfield, Rte 116 bends sharply to the right. Fork left here onto Creamery Rd and come to immediate stop.
  4. Turn left onto Williamsburg Rd and follow to parking lot.

Trail to the right is a short hike up to a rock ledge with nice view. Entrance to the falls is on the left. Water is quite cool, and water shoes are recommended, as rocks are very slippery. Area is small and can get cramped quickly.

There are 3 falls with natural rock slides. The first has the longest slide and deepest pool at the bottom, plus another pool above it. The slide is bumpy on the top half but smooth from the middle down. Be very careful exiting the top pool, as there is a 15 ft fall to the rocks at the bottom of the second falls.

Use the trail to go to the bottom of the second falls. Get drenched under the falls and enjoy short slides from several starting spots into the shallow pool.

The third set of falls is suitable for toddlers. The trail on the Falls side of the road follows the brook for further exploration.

New Hampshire

Both destinations in Pisgah State Park require hiking. Wear sturdy shoes. Consider wearing long sleeves and pack insect repellent.

PFDs are recommended for those who are not strong swimmers. The water is deep at all points of entry. Water shoes are recommended, as rock outcroppings along shores are rough. Check for sunken branches before jumping into the water from any height. Both destinations also are excellent for paddling.

Pisgah Reservoir

Allow 1.5 to 2 hours for total round trip.

  1. Take Rte 10 north to first light in Winchester
  2. Turn left onto Rte. 119 and follow along the Ashuelot River
  3. After the covered bridge and village of Ashuelot, look for a bridge crossing the river on the left and a small park entrance sign at a fork on the right.*
  4. Take the fork and travel an unpaved road for 1.5 miles to the upper lot. Take it slowly, the road is rutted with many loose rocks.

* If you miss the entrance, you can turn around in the main parking lot another 1/4 mile down the road. You may want to turn around again in Ashuelot to catch the fork, as it’s a sharp turn with a steep, slippery grade coming back from the main lot. Or, it’s a little less than a 6 mile round trip to hike in from the main lot.


The approach from the upper lot is very steep but takes only about 20 minutes to ascend. There are 2 switchbacks in the trail before the top. Dirt bikes and 4 wheelers are common on the trail, be aware and step aside. Take extra caution on the descent, it is easy to slip on loose gravel or lose footing in ruts.

There are 2 options at the top:

  1. Turn left and cross over the dam to a large, partially shaded outcropping. The entry is deep enough to jump from the boulders, and there is a shallow ledge for climbing out. You can find and stand on 2 large boulders about 25 yards out. There may be motorized vehicles at this site, and you may need to remove shoes to cross the dam, depending on the water level.
  2. Follow the trail to the right and step around the chain barrier, which is intended to block motorized vehicles. From there, the first fork to the left leads to a sunny, grassy sitting area with a natural fireplace. Easy water entry and exit. The second fork leads to another large outcropping with partial shade, across from which is a small island. The entry from the outcropping and off the far side of the island are deep enough for jumping.
Kilburn Pond

Allow 1.5 to 2 hours for total round trip.

Similar beautiful scenery as Reservoir, smaller and water is not as clear. Also suitable for paddling. No motorized vehicles allowed. Hike is light to moderate but with trip hazards along pond edge.

  1. Rte 63 North to Hinsdale
  2. Right on Main St
  3. Left back onto 63 at end of town
  4. Pisgah State Park sign and parking lot are 4 miles up on the right


  1. Follow Kilburn Loop Trail about 15 minutes to the fork at edge of the pond
  2. Fork left and follow another 5 minutes to the bridge on right
  3. Cross the bridge and at the top of short rise, turn right on John Summers Trail
  4. Follow Summers trail, along edge of pond another 10 minutes, past first 2 outcroppings to an opening with flat rocks
Spofford Lake

Directions (25 minutes each way):

Entrance fee of $25-30 for family of 4. Snack bar and bathrooms. Narrow sandy beach with narrow roped swimming area that extends far into lake. Sandy bottom with long, shallow entry and 6′ maximum depth. Slippery rocks at the end of the swimming area are fun.


Bring water shoes, tubes, boats, and rods for a day trip along the West River!

  1. Crossing the Connecticut River into Brattleboro on Rte 63, take the right onto main street.
  2. Near the end of town, turn left and pass the town common and the turn right onto Rte 30 North.
  3. Drive along the West River, passing the West River Bridge and Rive Farm Road Bridge before stopping to check out the Dummerston Covered Bridge.
  4. At Newfane, do a loop around the town common and check out the old buildings.
  5. Pass through Townshend and then check out Scott Covered Bridge on your left. Townshend Lake is on your left after the bridge. The lake has a large sandy beach, good paddling, and fishing. Recommend saving it for the return, the pass you purchase at Jamaica is good for entry here. After the lake, West Townshend Country Store on your left has snacks and bait.
  6. Continue on Rte 30 into Jamaica. Turn right onto Depot Rd and follow over the bridge to the park entrance. Entrance fee is $24 for family of 4, and bathrooms are available. There are nice swimming areas with alternating pools and light rapids starting a quarter mile up. Enjoy a cool, natural jacuzzi or tube back down towards the parking lot. Avoid the designated swimming area. River bottom is very rocky, water shoes highly recommended. Very limited mobile service.
  7. Optionally, you can continue past Jamaica to Bromley Mountain, which offers a $35 sunset pass to the adventure park for 3-5 PM and individual ride tickets. Limited attractions due to Covid but alpine slide ($18) and mini golf ($12) are open. Zipline and disc golf are closed.

Jamaica is 40 miles/60 minutes from Northfield, but allow 2.5 hours for round trip with scenic stops. Bromley adds another 30 miles/1 hour to total trip.