As summer rolls in, you might be looking for a great spot to cool off and take a swim. Here are my picks for the top 10 swimming holes in Northwest Louisiana.

Most of them are free and all of them are "swim at your own risk".

The beach at Cypress Black Bayou is one of the best. You will pay a charge to get in the park, but I would recommend packing a picnic lunch and spend the day enjoying all of the activities of the park and catching a few rays on the beach.

Caddo Lake is a great spot for swimming. Earl G. Williamson Park in Oil City is one of the best kept secrets in the region. It's a great family park and has a wonderful spot for swimming. The best part about this park is that it's free. The park also hosts an annual “Get Hooked on Fishing Day” on the last Saturday of June. The park is about 15 miles north of Shreveport going up Highway 1.

I would not recommend swimming in the Red River, but lots of people do it. The current has been and can be deadly. If you decide to brave the Red, you better be a strong swimmer. There is a beach area near the southern end of Hamel Memorial Park, but be warned, this is a dangerous spot for swimmers. I might enjoy the beach with a picnic lunch, but I'm not getting in the water at this swimming hole.

Cross Lake is a great swimming lake. Most of the property around the lake is private, but you can take a dip in the water at the Ford Park area on the south side of the lake.  The park also has a beautiful picnic are bbq area.

Lake Claiborne State Park in the Homer area also has a pretty nice beach and won't be as crowded as most of the spots in the Shreveport area. But to book a cabin or camping spot, you do need to call ahead of time.

South Toledo Bend State Park is one of the most beautiful parks in the state. It sits on several small bluffs that extend into the Toledo Bend Reservoir.  The reservoir is nationally recognized as a destination for bass fishing tournaments, visitors to the park can also enjoy other outdoor recreational activities. From I-20, take LA 171 south to Anacoco and follow the signs.

Cane River Lake in Natchitoches is also a fun spot to take a dip in. This lake is one of the most famous in the state. It was featured as the back drop in the movie "Steel Magnolias" which was shot in Natchitoches. The best swimming area is about 3 miles north of downtown.

Kisatchie Bayou in Natchitoches is also a hidden gem in our region. You can enjoy scenic views of the bayou surrounded by old growth hardwood and pine trees. Hiking, camping and fishing are other popular activities at this site. From the intersection of I-49 and Highway 6,  drive west on Hwy 6 for 4 miles. Turn left on Louisiana Hwy 117 and proceed 16 miles to Forest Highway 59.

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