My family has been to pools, beaches, and water parks, but my husband wanted to take our two boys to jump in a good ol’ watering hole. So we hopped online and found a former quarry turned swim spot near Baltimore. The promise of rope swings and rocks to jump off was exactly what we were looking for.
North of Baltimore, Beaver Dam Swimming Club is only a couple miles off the highway. When we pulled in, staff collected our admission fee (cash only) and checked our car’s trunk to make sure we didn’t have alcohol. We parked in a small lot and headed to the main attraction.
The watering hole is deep, as deep as 50 feet in some parts, so it’s only for strong swimmers. You can borrow a life jacket from the check-in spot ($20 deposit that you get back when the jacket’s returned).
My almost-8-year-old thrill-seeking son didn’t waste any time getting in line for the big rope swing. We made sure he watched a few people first to see that you must let go once you swing out. He grabbed onto the metal crossbar that’s at the end of a long rope, jumped from the roughly 20-foot platform, swung out, and plunged in. From there, you can swim back to shore or out to a rock ledge. Jumping and diving from the rocks was a highlight for my husband and son. Also out in the water are a couple of floating platforms and a log to try to balance on without falling off. You can also bring your own raft to float on. Ropes in the water mark the boundaries for the allowed swimming area. Back on shore, there is a high diving board and also a wooden platform to leap from. As the afternoon wore on, there was a short wait to go off the rope and boards, but it never got overly crowded.
While my older son and my husband were embracing the adrenaline rushes in the watering hole, I was entertaining my almost-4-year-old son nearby. There is a sandy area, so we sat and played with some toys I’d brought. We also went in the swimming pool that’s right there. One note on the pool: It did not feel clean to me. There is no place to shower off your feet or body before getting in, and despite a sign saying “proper swimming attire required,” there were some people in street clothes in the pool. But I needed some way to entertain my son so I just hoped there was tons of chlorine in there and we got in. It’s a basic small pool, with a baby pool area connected to a pool that doesn’t get deeper than four feet (a small wall separates the two areas). My son loved playing with the two faucets blasting water into the pool in a constant stream. I didn’t opt to get my younger son a life jacket since he wouldn’t have been able to do much more than wade into one area that is part of the watering hole that I could stand up in. I won’t bring my younger son back to Beaver Dam until he’s able to swim and can go in the watering hole.
There were numerous lifeguards on duty during our visit, including one patrolling the watering hole in a small motor boat. I found them to be attentive for the most part, but I did notice a couple times where a person jumping from the diving board should have waited for the previous jumper to fully clear the area before taking a turn (the lifeguard didn’t blow a whistle or point it out).
While the water looks sprawling, the amenities are all quite compact. Next to the pool are about a dozen picnic tables in the shade. I noticed lots of large groups having cookouts (most brought their own grill, though there are some there too). A snack bar nearby has typical fare such as hotdogs, fries, and treats. Two sand volleyball courts and a basketball court are in full sun, so weren’t getting much use on our heat-intense visit. Lockers outside the restrooms are available for use if you bring your own lock. The restrooms were not exactly clean, which I find to be the case at most pools.
Apparently, there’s a second pool in another section of Beaver Dam, but it is not near the Tarzan rope and rocks so we did not bother to make the schlep over to check it out.
In researching a watering hole to visit, I learned that Beaver Dam was a working quarry until 1934 (pumps kept water out). Marble from the quarry was used for part of the Washington Monument, among other notable structures. Spring water now fills the quarry, and fish and turtles were in the dark water. I found it comparable to swimming in a lake.
After a few hours of feeling like we were lucky to be having a perfect summer adventure, we loaded into the car and headed to a nearby Cold Stone Creamery (10015 York Road, Cockeysville) to cap off our memorable outing.
The swim club is open only in summer (check the website for opening/closing dates). Hours are Monday through Friday, 11AM to 6:30PM, and Saturday, Sunday, and holidays, 11AM to 7PM (no admission after 4PM). Admission is $15 to $17 adults, $10 to $11 children (cash only).
- There are no adult swim breaks called here so you’ll want to make sure your kids aren’t getting too tired out. We took a break to eat our picnic lunch in the shade.
- There is no reentry once you exit, so pack everything you might possibly need in your car.
- I would only recommend this outing for older kids who are strong swimmers. I did not find it to be a good experience for toddlers or preschoolers.
Photos by Kathleen Seiler Neary.