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Swim Away the Summer Heat

In Vacationland, there are plenty of places to swim. Maine is pocked with deep glacial lakes and clear ponds, which warm up as summer progresses. And the state’s coastline features protect coves and tidal pools for those who don’t mind the cold, salty waves of the Atlantic.

But finding a good swimming spot isn’t always as easy as driving to the nearest blue blob on the map. Sometimes public access can be difficult to find, and some bodies of water aren’t ideal for swimming because they’re full of algae or bloodsuckers.

The following are a few great swimming spots within an hour’s drive of Bangor. Some are popular locations where you’ll likely find a crowd of people sunbathing and splashing about, while other locations on this list are lesser known. Most places you can drive to, but a few require a short hike to reach. And all of these places have enthusiastic reviews from local residents who’ve visited these swimming holes more than once to cool off and enjoy the summer sun.

Gould Landing

Covering more than 5,000 acres and spanning three towns, Pushaw Lake is a major spot for watersports in the Bangor area. The lake is accessible for free at Gould Landing in Orono, where you’ll also find a 0.5-mile loop trail for an easy hike through the woods and along the shore. The landing has a beach area and picnic tables, but it does not have restrooms or changing rooms. Keep an eye out for bald eagles and loons. Both iconic Maine birds call this lake home. Dogs are permitted but must be kept under control at all times.

Peaks-Kenny State Park

Located on the 6,800-acre Sebec Lake, this state park is the ultimate swimming location, with a sandy beach, lifeguard, plenty of picnic tables, a vast network of hiking trails and playground right by the water. There are also changing rooms and restrooms right at the park, which is located in Dover-Foxcroft off Route 153 on State Park Road. Admission to the park ranges from free to $7, depending on your age and residency. In Maine state parks, pets are not allowed on beaches between April 1 and Sept. 30.

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