Whether you’re seeking a comfortable place to cool off, a natural lake to swim in, or a local pool for fun with friends and family, Concord and the surrounding areas are full of hidden gems and natural bodies of water.

As temperatures continue to rise over the summer, densely populated cities away from the seacoast, like Concord, are more prone to feel the effects of the summer heat without a breeze to break up the humidity and thickness in the area.

Keep safety in mind, however, as you head out because although Concord city swimming pools have lifeguards on duty, many of the recommended swimming areas in the county don’t. The Merrimack River has claimed lives over the last several years as swimmers plunge into a current that isn’t visibly detected at the surface.

Parks and Recreation Director David Gill said, “It’s always that old story of when you go to a lake or a pond – have a buddy system so you’re not alone.”

When swimming in a river, a lake or any body of water that is either unfamiliar or an undercurrent could be present, try to swim with friends, he continued. If you’re not a strong swimmer, have a life jacket with you – it will save your life.


Though the city of Concord operates six outdoor pools and a splash pad, the number of lifeguards the recreation department can hire will determine the number of pools that will be opened, Gill said.

“If we are fully staffed, those pools are located in Rolfe Park, Garrison Park, Kimball Park, Rollins Park, Merrill Park and Keach Park while the splash pad is in White Park,” Gill said.

To open all of the pools and the splash pad, the city will need to staff between 35 and 40 lifeguards. At this time, they are still actively recruiting for the season but will have enough staff to open at least three pools, Gill said. They will be opened in the second half of June through the end of August.

The pools are free for use for Concord and Penacook residents with proof of identification, while non-residents can buy a season-long pool pass for $125 or a 48-hour pass for $20. Both passes can be purchased at the recreation office or the citywide community center.

Merrimack River and Sewalls Falls

A moving body of water, like the Merrimack River, is one of the most dangerous places to swim, especially for children or weak swimmers.

Still, there are several small areas of calm water at off-the-beaten-path beaches throughout the 214-acre recreation area, which has trails along 5-miles of the Merrimack River, the most popular of which is a trail leading from the boat launch area toward the Merrimack shoreline where swimmers can find corners of calm waters to take a dip in.

However, there are no sanctioned swimming areas along the river and there are no lifeguards on duty monitoring the waterway.

“I think with the river, the biggest concern is that most people don’t know that it may look calm and smooth on top but actually, the current is just below the surface,” Gill said. “It could be going a lot faster than anybody anticipates – if you’re not a strong swimmer or have a limited swimming ability, it could catch you off guard and pull you out off your feet.”

State parks

Though easy to access, parks across the state require an entrance fee of around $3 per adult and $1 for children between the ages of six and 11 while admittance is free for children under the age of five and seniors over the age off 65. The fees may differ with each park.

Clough State Park, which is located about 20 minutes from Concord, sits on a public reservation area on the east side of Everett Lake about five miles east of the town of Weare. The lake is formed by a dam on the Piscataquog River and is open weekends beginning Memorial Day weekend and daily from late June through Labor Day.

About 30 minutes east of Clough State Park sits Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown, where residents can enjoy hiking over 10,000 acres of conservation land. Throughout the property, there are several lakes and ponds where residents can swim, specifically Catamount and Bear Hill ponds. Bear Hill Pond can be accessed to the south of the property by Bear Hill Pond Road while Catamount Pond, which offers boating and kayaking, is accessed through the north entrance of the state park.

To the west of Concord by about 15 minutes is Elm Brook Park which is part of the Hopkinton-Everett Lakes Reservoir and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps. Once inside, which costs $5 per vehicle that enters, visitors can swim in Hopkinton Lake and will have access to picnic areas with grills and a playground, recreational boating and kayaking and sporting fields for soccer, basketball and baseball.

Tucked away behind the Opechee Peninsula in Laconia along the shores of Lake Winnepesaukee are two swimming areas – Opechee Cove and Opechee Point – 40 minutes north of the city. Because the water in the cove doesn’t move as often as other beaches, it can often test high in E. Coli bacteria while the point tests better than the cove. Look for signs before entering either water bodies.

There is no fee for parking at either beach.


Located closest to Concord are Griffin and Lagace beaches in Franklin, which both sit on Webster Lake. The beaches have a sandy shoreline and a green lawn space for picnicking, according to the city’s website. Parking permits are required by residents and all non-residents can purchase permits for $5 from the beach attendants at the entrance or through the Parks and Recreation Department.

To the north of Concord by about 45 minutes is Weirs Beach in the northern corner of Laconia on Lake Winnipesaukee in Endicott Lake Park. There are no lifeguards on duty and patrons must pay at the parking kiosks before using the beach.

And if you’re a saltwater fan, the ocean is only an hour to the east in towns like Portsmouth, Rye and Hampton or across the bridge to Maine in Ogunquit and York.