When I arrived in Bucks from Florida, I was a major water bug. Years of cave diving the springs, boating and slalom waterskiing made me yearn for a swim across the Delaware in my new locale in Lower Bucks. But the river estuary was polluted. So tainted that Atlantic fish couldn’t get upstream to spawn.
With that in mind, my dog Lucky and I drove upriver beyond the estuary to Frenchtown and together we swam across the sparkling clear water.
Since then, as a weekender, travels with my wife, daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren Dashiell and Margaux and their dog Marcel have taken us to special places to cool off the old-fashioned way. Here are a few suggestions.
Giving Pond, Bridgeton
A childhood storybook by poet Shel Silverstein gave inspiration to this wonder in Upper Bucks County. The 150-acre preserve is a state park developed out of a water-filled former gravel quarry. Today, those questing solitude enjoy a lake studded with vegetated islets and beaver dams.
Dipping your feet in the clear, cold water from a dock or paddling canoes, kayaks and rowboats across still waters is intoxicating. Small mouth bass, turtles, loons and many bird species proliferate. Picnic tables sit in grassy areas near the boat launch.
Location: 1069-1087 River Road, Upper Black Eddy.
Eight Arches, Warwick
Old York Road in Warwick ends at Eight Arches Bridge over Neshaminy Creek. Owned by Warwick’s historical society, the closed bridge was built 27 years after George Washington marched his army over the creek on a timber bridge at this very location.
The site is a beautiful section of the Neshaminy with dense forests, marshlands, high bluffs, wildlife and flora everywhere plus the creek to splash around in. An ancient steel bridge exists about a mile down river from Eight Arches. A footpath links the two, and there is parking near both spans.
Location: Access Eight Arches on dead-end Old York Road; for the steel bridge, follow Mill Road from its intersection with Sugar Bottom Road in Buckingham.
Aquetong Spring, Solebury
This phenomenal gusher pumps 3 million gallons of crystal-clear water every day, filling a deep basin with an overflow waterfall. Even in the worst drought, the flow never diminishes, the source of Aquetong Creek that joins the Delaware River beside the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope.
Solebury purchased the site in 2010 for a 45-acre park for hiking and biking trails.
Location: Route 202 at Lower Mountain Road; information at soleburyhistory.org/on-line-exhibits/aquetong-spring-park/
Tohickon Creek, Tinicum
For those who like to rough it in remote, scenic woodlands, we recommend following steep Municipal Road to its four-wheel crossing of Tohickon Creek. Splashing around in the creek in either direction from the road is a delight.
While in the area, we suggest you cool off in the sky by visiting nearby Van Sant Airport, which offers rides in biplanes and gliders.
Information: Van Sant Airport details available on the web at https://vansantairport.com/
Lake Nockamixon, Haycock
This picturesque finger lake is renowned for sailing, canoeing, kayaking and motor boating. The 5,000-acre state park includes a campground and a hostel. A marina with boat rentals and public swimming pool are featured.
Information: Call 215-529-7300 or view park website at dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/NockamixonStatePark/Pages/default.aspx
Pump house ponds at Washington Crossing Park, Solebury
Below the summit of Bowman’s Hill in Solebury is the state’s unique wildflower preserve founded in 1934. Hardwood forests, a meadow, steep hillsides, a creek, two spring-fed ponds, wetlands and more than four miles of hiking trails make the preserve a wonder.
Not to be missed are the ponds. A picturesque pump house keeps the clear waters flowing with many places to dip your feet to cool off.
Location: 1635 River Road below New Hope. Phone 215-862-2924, or visit bhwp.org.
Tyler State Park, Newtown Township
Water frolics are what draw us to the 1,711-acre park. The central drive into the park off the Newtown Bypass at Swamp Road leads to a canoe rental and foot bridge over the creek. Picnicking and cooling off in the creek are very popular near the bridge.
Downstream about a half mile is a picturesque spillway dam accessed by walking trails.
Information: Call 215-968-2021, or visit dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/TylerStatePark/Pages/default.aspx
Neshaminy State Park, Bensalem
The park is located at the confluence of Neshaminy Creek and the Delaware River in Lower Bucks County. Its 339 acres include picnic areas, swimming pool and separate children’s spray park. Boating access to the river is at the park marina.
The Delaware shoreline offers wading opportunities and views of the distant Philadelphia skyline.
Location: 3401 State Road; call 215-639-4538, or visit dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/NeshaminyStatePark/Pages/default.aspx
Carl LaVO can be reached at email@example.com
Read More:From Bridgeton to Bensalem, here are 8 spots to swim in Bucks County