Summer over? No, nope, not at all. These last weeks before the solstice are prime time for squeezing in a few more quick dips or even another full beach day or two, a leap into a swimming hole or a tubing adventure. Sure, the water is cooler than it was in August. But, according to National Weather Service data, water temps in the Greater Portland area are higher in September than in June. So, take the plunge!
Swim below at waterfall at Smalls Falls in Franklin County. Photo courtesy of Shannon Bryan
Smalls Falls Rest Area, 4 Rangeley Place, Township E, Franklin County
Though deemed a "rest area," this waterfall, gorge and swimming spot on Sandy River is a destination in itself. Along the trail are three different waterfalls, each with a pool below. The first – and smallest – waterfall has a rocky beach and pool sized just right for little ones. With picnic tables and charcoal grills, this is a great place for a hike, refreshing dip and picnic.
Shallow water makes Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth particularly kid-friendly. Photo courtesy of Shannon Bryan
Crescent Beach State Park
6 Two Lights Road, Cape Elizabeth, 799-5871
Crescent Beach State Park in Cape Elizabeth is, as the name would have you believe, crescent-shaped, and being in a cove means it stays warmer a little longer. This milelong sandy beach is kid-friendly in that the water doesn't get too deep too fast, and there are restrooms and changing stalls, so you won't have to worry about getting overly chilly after your dip. The park is about 8 miles south of Portland on Route 77 in Cape Elizabeth, and it's open daily from 10 a.m. to sunset. Kettle Cove State Park, which is adjacent to Crescent Beach State Park, has a walking trail around the cove. At Crescent Beach, be prepared to pay a small entrance fee in cash ($1 for kids ages 5-11; for adults, $6 per state resident, $8 per non-resident or $2 per senior non-resident). There's a separate fee for Kettle Cove ($1 for kids ages 5-11; adults, $3 per Maine resident, $4 per non-resident and $1 per senior non-resident).
Indian's Last Leap is a spot on the Mousam Indian's Last Leap is a spot on the Mousam River where a pool forms between two boulders. Photo courtesy of Shannon Bryan
Indian's Last Leap
Mousam River, Springvale
Legend has it that Chief Nahanda, in pursuit during an attack, tried to leap across the Meguncook (now Mousam) River where it dashes between two large boulders 20 feet apart – and, let's just say, it was his last leap. Despite the lack of historical evidence for this story, leaping from one side to the other is not recommended. Leaping into the pool below is much safer and more popular. Park at the Recreation Area off Main Road (Route 109) in Springvale or, if you don't want to hike as far, look for a dirt road marked by a Recreation Area sign.
Float across the New Hampshire-Maine border on the Saco River for something a little less wet. Photo courtesy of Christine Stack
Outdoors Saco Bound Tubing Trips
Starting from Rout 202, Center Conway, N.H., sacobound.com, (603) 447-2177
The Saco River is about 65 degrees this time of year – invigorating, for sure, but not too cold for a three-hour tubing trip across the New Hampshire-Maine border. The Saco River tends to be a lazy one, moving at about 1 mile an hour. Starting at Saco Bound on Route 202 in Center Conway, it's a 3-mile float to Weston's Beach in Fryeburg, where there's an hourly shuttle back to the starting point. There are sandy beaches to stop at along the way. This family-friendly trip is $20 per adult, $15 for kids 12 and under. Make a reservation, pack a lunch and rent a floating cooler.
Hit the woodland trails through Ferry Beach before taking it to Saco Bay. Photo courtesy of Christine Stack
Ferry Beach State Park
95 Bayview Road, Saco, 283-0067
Ferry Beach State Park, between Old Orchard Beach and Camp Ellis in Saco, has a beautiful sand beach and woodland trails with access to Saco Bay. The 100-acre park also offers a picnic area, guided nature programs, a nature center and changing rooms. The park is open daily from 9 a.m. to sunset. Entrance to the park is off Bay View Road. Be prepared to pay a small entrance fee in cash ($1 for kids ages 5-11; for adults, $5 per state resident, $7 for non-resident or $2 for senior non-resident).