Epic Secret Swimming Holes in Canada and Where to Find Them

Floating away in Elora Quarry
Floating away in Elora Quarry | © JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock

Although the water can be cold year-round in some parts of northern Canada, in the south, there are many swimming holes to enjoy in the summertime. From British Columbia to New Brunswick, check out these quarries, lakes, and grottos that make up the country’s best swimming locales.

Horseshoe Lake

A horseshoe-shaped lake within Jasper National Park, Horseshoe Lake is known for its cold, but clear, turquoise water and high cliffs. It’s only a 1.5-kilometer (0.9-mile) loop from the trailhead to the lake, which sits just off the beautiful Icefields Parkway, south of Jasper. Horseshoe Lake is well liked by cliff jumpers, but it also has shallow water in some parts, so be cautious.

Raggedy Ass Falls

It may have a unique name, but Raggedy Ass Falls is an adventurous place to go swimming in New Brunswick. There are four waterfalls here, and each one has a deep, plunging pool. The pool at the top waterfall is the largest, which locals say resembles a medium-sized swimming pool. It’s suggested that if you’re plunging into one, you should definitely brave the cold and swim in them all.

The Grotto

The Grotto in Bruce Peninsula National Park is one of the best swimming holes in North America, thanks to its mesmerizing turquoise water and the surrounding Niagara Escarpment rocks. It takes about 45 minutes each way to reach the Grotto from the park’s Cyprus Lake Road entrance. It’s best to visit in spring and fall to avoid the summer crowds, as hundreds of thousands of people visit annually. An alternative is nearby Indian Head Cove.

Katherine Cove

On Lake Superior, you will find Katherine Cove and its Bathtub Island. It’s named this because there’s a large depression in the rocky surface, which captures water from the lake’s waves, resulting in a shallow, bathtub-like swimming hole, which is a beautiful and secluded spot to relax. It’s just south of the cove off Highway 17.

Sooke Potholes

Located within Sooke Potholes Provincial Park, the Sooke Potholes are a series of deep and polished rock pools naturally carved out of the Sooke River’s bedrock. The potholes are the result of glacial action in the last ice age, some 15,000 years ago. It’s a popular place for locals and visitors to spend a day on Vancouver Island, as the water is both clean and clear.

Cascade Ponds

Both locals and young families enjoy visiting Cascade Ponds, due to its shallow water, small beach area, access to picnic tables, and nearby walking trails. Located within Banff National Park and on the way to picturesque Lake Minnewanka, Cascade Ponds’ mountain surrounds and cute bridges make it feel like you’re “jumping into a painting.”

Lynn Canyon

Located within Lynn Canyon Park are many swimming holes, including a 30-foot (9.1-meter) pool. However, although the crystal-clear water looks inviting, it’s extremely cold even in the height of summer. There’s also the option to swim in the shallow and calm water holes underneath Twin Falls, which is within Lynn Canyon too. The park is a large area with many spots for a picnic as well.

Mystery Lake

A three-kilometer (1.86-mile) round-trip hike will get you to Mystery Lake, an idyllic swimming hole in Mount Seymour Provincial Park. As it’s sheltered from the wind, the lake’s water always seems to mirror the surrounding forest perfectly. It’s an excellent place to enjoy a picnic, but it’s recommended that you arrive early to enjoy the peace and quiet before other people catch up to you.

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