Want to Go Swimming in Salem?

August 15, 2014

by Bob Gibbs

With plenty of warm summer weather ahead, you may be looking for a nice outdoor swim in Salem.  There are a few places you may want to try.  The most well-known swimming area in town is Hedgehog Park.  Other lesser-known areas are Shadow Lake, Captain’s Pond, Millville Lake, Arlington Pond, and Second Street.

Ironically, swimming is not allowed in the best known body of water in Salem, Canobie Lake.  Canobie Lake, being a source of water for the town, is a protected waterway.  Swimming in Canobie Lake is an arrestable offense.

Hedgehog Park provides ample parking with restrooms, lifeguards, a play area, picnic areas including grills and a skateboard park.  Located on Route 38 near the Salem Icenter, Hedgehog provides a relaxing place to enjoy the view of the water with the surrounding trees.  It provides many areas to lie in the sun or relax in the shade of the trees.

Shadow Lake located in North Salem on Shadow Lake Road has a small beach area across from Sylvan Road.  There are no lifeguards and the parking is very limited.  Captain’s Pond also is unguarded and you may need to find a friend who lives on the pond in order to get to the water.  Second Street is maintained by a neighborhood association.

Millville Lake offers a small public area located on Millville Circle that has a beach area.  Millvale offers a small parking area, a few picnic tables, and is a perfect place to put in a canoe or kayak.  The bottom of the beach is sand and both sunny and shady areas are available.

Arlington Pond is the largest body of water in Salem with many inlets and areas for swimming.  Many of the areas are owned by the various neighborhood associations around the pond; there are areas along the pond that provide access to the waterfront.  One popular area is on North Main Street just north of Corinthian Drive.  This is a very popular fishing hole, providing access to swim, canoe, and kayak.

On July 8, water samples from association and public beaches in Salem were collected and submitted for microbiological analysis to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Laboratory in Concord.  All of these beaches are in compliance with the guidelines established by the NHDES for safe swimmable waters.  The samples were analyzed for bacteria (E. coli), the indicator organism utilized to determine safe swimming conditions.  At a freshwater beach, an advisory is posted if either of the two samples collected at a beach exceed the state standard of 88 counts of E. coli per 100 milliliters (ml) of water or when one sample exceeds 158 counts.  Two samples were collected from each beach in accordance with the NH DES “Standard Operating procedure for Bacteria Sampling.”

Hedgehog Park is scheduled for major improvements in the coming years.  Phase III of the program is to demolish the current building that houses the bathrooms, storage, and warming area.  In 2015, construction will begin for a new building with bathrooms, storage for the lifeguards, and an extended pavilion with nine picnic tables and enough room to handle just under 100 people.  A small concession stand, which will be leased out by the town, will also be housed in the new building

Phase IV of the plan is to add circulation to the pond water.  Currently, the water in the pond is stagnant as it comes up from a spring.  The pond was created when the sand was dug up and sold.  A circulation system will move the water, reducing the bacteria that often closes the pond to swimming.

Other plans for Hedgehog Pond include the addition of a basketball court, two tennis courts and additional parking.