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Swinging Bridge Lake is a Catskills lake located in southern Sullivan County, New York and was formed by the damming of the Mongaup River in 1926 for hydroelectric power. Bethel, Forestburgh, Lumberland, and Thompson are the four townships that border Swinging Bridge Lake.
The lake's name derived from a walking bridge across the Mongaup River that consisted of wooden planks held in place by steel cables. Anyone daring enough to use the bridge was in for a "swinging" good time. The name Swinging Bridge Lake was given to the newly formed lake when the dam was completed.
Swinging Bridge Lake is an exciting place for fishing, swimming, boating, and sailing. There are no restrictions on jet skis, size of boats, or even sea planes. White water paddling is located on the Mongaup River for the more adventuresome visitor. Although the average depth of the lake is more than 30 feet, there are sandbars and boulders less than a foot under the surface, so boaters should take care to avoid these areas. The depth of Swinging Bridge Lake ranges from 5 feet to a maximum depth of 110 feet.
There is no shortage of fish as the Department of Environmental Conservation stocks Swinging Bridge Reservoir with fish every spring. Trout, bass, pickerel, blue gill, carp, perch, catfish, walleye, largemouth bass, and crappies are abundant, making Swinging Bridge Lake a top fishing spot for local fishing enthusiasts as well as visitors seeking their luck. Ice fishing is popular in winter.
There are two public launch areas on Swinging Bridge Lake that are maintained by Alliance Energy Renewables, the owners of Swinging Bridge Lake. The Plank Road Northwest Recreation Area has a small picnic area, a portage launch point for non-powered water craft, and a boat launch with capabilities for shallow draft boats up to 20 feet. The Starlight Road Recreation Area has a picnic area and boat launch available. Alliance lowers water levels by about 17 feet in the winter to provide storage for heavy spring runoff.
Nature enthusiasts will want to bring their cameras and binoculars to Swinging Bridge Lake. With abundant water and food plots available, the Swinging Bridge Lake area is teeming with wildlife. Families of turkey, deer, black bear, fox, rabbits, and beaver can be seen around the lake. Look to the sky for blue herons, a wide variety of songbirds, as well as the American Bald Eagle. Parts of Swinging Bridge Lake and its shoreline have become protected by the Department of Environmental Conservation for the preservation of the nesting grounds of the beautiful eagles, and no further home construction will be allowed in these protected areas.
Trails around Swinging Bridge Lake provide opportunities for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. In the winter, these same trails can be used for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Accommodations around Swinging Bridge Lake are as varied as the activities there. You can choose from vacation rental homes, cabin rentals, or camping.
If you should tire of nature's beauty at Swinging Bridge Reservoir, a short drive will provide you many exciting attractions. Sullivan County is a great tourist area to visit with its historic sites, horse racing, shopping, golfing, and winter time skiing. A two hour drive will take you straight to New York City with all its hustle and bustle, but remember when you have had your fill of the noisy crowds and traffic congestion, tranquil Swinging Bridge Lake is just a short ride home.
So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, your fishing gear, cameras, binoculars, and head to Swinging Bridge Lake today.
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