The Best Swimming Holes in Appalachia

Published on July 26, 2015
Written by Ray Access

Jumping, sliding, swinging and falling into summer fun!

Swimming holes dot the Appalachian Mountain chain. There are hundreds if not thousands of swimming holes, in every Appalachian state. Some of these swimming spots are popular, while others are inaccessible to anyone but a dedicated backpacker. Some maybe haven’t even been discovered yet.

Picking the best swimming holes has to be a subjective exercise as you can’t please everyone. Some people prefer the isolated and remote. Others prefer popular places that are within easy reach. Some prefer the holes surrounded by wild natural beauty. Others just care about the slides, jumps or swings that make getting in the water fun.

With this in mind, here are our picks for the best swimming holes in the Appalachian Mountains:

Arnold Valley PoolArnold Valley Pool WV

If you like cold-water swimming, this has everything you want, including a slide and an occasionally present swing rope. But the water can be ice cold and there are hidden rocks beneath the surface, so make sure you know the terrain before jumping in. Reach it off the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile marker 71.

Big Rock FallsBig Rock Falls VA

Located off Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, Big Rock Falls allows swimmers to slide down the waterfall into the pool, depending on the water level. It’s an enjoyable mile-and-a-half hike to the swimming hole. To get there, you have to pay the Park fee, but it’s a great trip for the entire family.

Ellrod FallsEllrod Falls TN

For beautiful waterfalls, visit this Tennessee swimming hole. It has two, and the second is larger than the first. But be warned that the second falls is more difficult to reach. The swimming is good in both pools. To reach this swimming hole, follow route 11 out of Morristown.

Sliding Rock

A popular swimming hole near Brevard, North Carolina, Sliding Rock offers a long natural slide into a cold pool. There is a fee to enter, but you can slide, jump and even tube your way into the water. A family friendly swimming hole, it’s often crowded, especially during holidays and really hot days.

Twisting FallsCompression Falls TN

Near the Tennessee-North Carolina border, this swimming hole (also known as Compression Falls) boasts two pools: one at the top of the falls and one at the bottom. You can take the 30-foot plunge into the bottom, and you can find other ways to jump and swing into the water. It’s a drive to get there from Elizabethton, TN.

Winklers Creek

A popular, easily accessible swimming hole near Boone, North Carolina, Winklers Creek is a good-sized pool. There’s even a rope swing for the adventurous. It can get crowded on warm days, but it’s a terrific way to spend a hot day with the family.

The best swimming holes depend on your personal preferences, but we hope that this list will get you started, regardless where you live or visit. There are simply too many Appalachian swimming holes to list them all, but you can find more specific directions to the above swimming holes and a listing of many more swimming holes at Have fun and be safe!

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