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Best Swimming holes of North Carolina

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

North Carolina has so many beautiful swimming holes to explore. Whether you're looking for a family-friendly spot or a more secluded one, there's something for everyone. Summer is the perfect time to take a dip in the cool waters of these natural pools and waterfalls. Just remember to practice safe swimming habits and be aware of your surroundings. Happy exploring!

swimming with waterfall in NC
swimming near small creek rapids in NC

Most of these are in western North Carolina, so take several days and explore them all in the western part of the state. I have a few to the east, but only 2 in the far east and 2 in the middle of the state. It's just that the western part of the state with the mountains, it creates more swimming holes surrounded by beauty.

-Schoolhouse Falls-Panthertown Valley- This is a beautiful waterfall with a swimming hole at the base, located in the Nantahala National Forest. Its less than 3 miles hike down, with easily marked trail, but to get better access to the waterfall you have to go off trail. But just a warning the hike back up can be a little tough.

-Deep Creek -Bryson City- Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this family-friendly swimming hole is a summer favorite. There is a $5 parking fee, and it is not too far of a walk up the trail to the falls and swimming hole. You can also do more hiking while there. There are several waterfalls in the area to look at. There are also tubing opportunities if you would like to rent and float for a mile nearby.

Hooker Falls
Hooker Falls

-Hooker Falls - DuPont State Forest near Brevard- If you're looking for a spacious swimming hole, Hooker Falls is a great choice. Grab a tube and float along! It is only a .3-mile hike. But one thing I like about this place, contact DuPont State Forest directly ahead of time and they can help you if you have disabilities, so you can still see the falls or swim. Check out the other waterfalls in this area also you can swim near.

-Turtleback Falls - Toxaway- This Pisgah National Forest swimming hole is about a 3-mile hike from Gorges State Park and is a quintessential North Carolina spot. If you use the natural slide be careful and make sure that water levels are not too high. This has a 20 foo drop into the pool below if you slide.

Bust Your Butt Falls
Bust Your Butt Falls

-Bust Your Butt Falls - Highlands- Despite its name, Bust Your Butt Falls is a tranquil swimming hole with clear waters that's perfect for a refreshing dip. Also known as Drift Falls, or Driftwood Falls. Located on private property and close to the road. Sometimes this swimming hole causes traffic jams on route 64.

-Midnight Hole - Big Creek- Located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this swimming hole is a hidden gem that's worth seeking out. The hike is 2.8 miles roundtrip and considered moderate, but well worth it to see the beautiful clear water.

Sliding Rock
Sliding Rock

-Sliding Rock - Brevard- This natural water slide in Pisgah National Forest offers a unique swimming experience that's fun for all ages. The pool is about 8 foot deep in the middle and does have a river current so be careful. If you do the slide you should wear a life vest is you can not swim properly. There is a $5 charge to swim.

Skinny Dip Falls - Brevard- Not far from Sliding Rock by the way the birds fly but driving there from Sliding Rock will take a lot longer. Crazy mountain roads. This is a popular swimming hole with a small waterfall and is about a 10-minute hike downhill. You can tell it's a trail but still be careful.

-Elk River Falls - Elk River- Located at almost the Tennesse border this waterfall in Avery County provides a scenic backdrop for swimmers looking to cool off on a hot day. Hiking to the falls is not to terrible at .06 roundtrip.

-Pettigrew State Park - Creswell- The park features Lake Phelps where you can take a dip and enjoy the natural surroundings. Located in the Eastern part of the state, and pretty close to the ocean you may be surprised that the lake doesn't have any alligators, but they have never been spotted here.

Carrigan Farms
Carrigan Farms

-Carrigan Farms- Mooresville- Swim in an actual quarry. This 5th generation owned farm is a neat place to check out near Charlotte NC, you should check out their website and book in advance to go swimming here. Since this is less than an hour away from Charlotte it tends to fill up quick during the peak season

There is a fee but trust me it is so worth it. The farm area itself is also wonderful, you can even book events and weddings here. There is even a lifeguard on staff, so it tends to be safer than others on this list.

-Jones Lake State Park - Elizabethtown- Only about 40 minutes away from Fayetteville NC, this state park has a lot to offer. There are beaches by the swimming hole which is actually a lake and the is some great history that goes along with this place. Go Kayaking, swimming or whatever you want here.

-Shacktown Falls - Yadkinville- Features a waterfall and a swimming hole. Easy hike to the falls area and can be crowed at times. Extremely close to the parking area.

These are just a few of the many amazing swimming holes in North Carolina. With many in the western part of North Carolina you can spend a few days out there and see several. Happy exploring!

Cruise Critic
Crystal Travel

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