Escape the Heat: The Top Swimming Holes to Cool Off in Waynesville, NC

When the summer heat becomes unbearable, there's nothing quite like taking a dip in a cool Blue Ridge Mountain swimming hole. Fortunately for both locals and visitors of Waynesville NC, there are a number of all natural swimming holes near Waynesville that offer crisp, cool and refreshing relief from the often warm summer temperatures.

A cool swimming hole is often the perfect reward after a long hike, or during a family picnic and makes for a great way to keep the kids busy and entertained.

Below are some of the very best swimming holes to explore near Waynesville NC!

Safety First!

When visiting mountain swimming holes, it's important to keep in mind that they are natural and can be dangerous. Always use caution and pay attention to signs and warnings posted in the area.  There are generally no life guards, and you are often a good distance away from medical assistance.   Always be aware that below the water, there can be rocks, fallen trees and other debris that you cannot see.

Always respect the environment and leave no trace behind, so that these swimming holes and areas can be enjoyed by others for generations to come.

Deep Creek

Deep Creek is a popular area located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in western North Carolina, near the town of Bryson City NC. The area is known for its scenic waterfalls, streams, and hiking trails, and is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

One of the main attractions in Deep Creek is Deep Creek itself, which offers easy access to the creek and a series of three waterfalls that can be accessed Deep Creek Trail.  Deep Creek between Indian Creek Falls and Tom Branch Falls is very popular for both swimming and tubing.

To access the creek, park in one of the parking areas for Deep Creek Trail or in the picnic area.   The creek itself is right next to the trail, and there are numerous access points for swimming and wading in the cool clear waters of Deep Creek.

For those wanting to tube, tubes can be rented from multiple vendors on the way into the park.  They will be tied to your vehicle, and can be carried from the parking area, up the trail for tubing.

Lower Falls, Graveyard Fields

The Lower Falls swimming hole at Graveyard Fields is a popular spot for visitors to the Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina, near Waynesville NC. It is located at mile marker 418.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway and is easily accessible from the Graveyard Fields parking area, along a moderate hiking trail.  The hike to Lower Falls is 0.6 miles.

The Lower Falls swimming hole is created by a series of cascading waterfalls that flow into a deep pool at the base of Lower Falls.  The pool is ideal for swimming on hot summer days. The water temperature is generally very cool and refreshing, and the surrounding scenery is beautiful.   The water flowing from the deep pool makes for more shallow pools below, that are perfect for young children wanting to play in the water as well.

Lower Falls and the entire Graveyard Fields area is a very popular, especially in the summer, so you'll want to get there early or later in the day to avoid the crowds and parking issues.

Looking Glass Falls

One of the most iconic and majestic waterfalls near Waynesville NC is not only a gorgeous roadside waterfall, but also the perfect summer swimming hole.  

Located in Pisgah National Forest, Looking Glass Falls is a beautiful 60' tall waterfall with a large swimming hole at the base.  There is a large parking area just up from the falls, and accessing the waterfall and swimming hole is easy via a short walk down a flight of stairs from the parking area.

Like most mountain swimming holes, the water is chilly, but crisp and refreshing, especially on a hot summer day.

The currents here, due to the strong flowing waterfall can be strong, and we do not recommend climbing on the rocks, which can be very slick.    Fortunately the swimming area is large, so you can move to areas with less current and still enjoy swimming.

This is a very popular location, both for swimming and for viewing the waterfall.  You'll want to get here early or late in the day to avoid the large crowds often found here during the summer.

Midnight Hole

Probably the most epic swimming hole in the Waynesville NC area is located in a remote section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  You'll have to hike out to it, but trust us, it's well worth it.

Midnight Hole features a very large pool area with depths from just a foot or two, to well over 15 to 20 feet.   Water flows into the pool from a 10 foot tall waterfall.  The pool is surrounded by large rocks, that visitors can climb up and jump off.

Midnight hole is accessible from the Big Creek Parking area, along Big Creek Trail.  You'll hike in about 1.5 miles to reach Midnight Hole.   For those looking for a smaller swimming area, with no hike, visit the Big Creek picnic area just off the parking area.  There are lots of shallow wading areas for kids, with picnic areas right next to them.

On your hike up to Midnight hole, there are also a number of smaller swimming holes and waterfalls you can enjoy as well.  It's a gorgeous area and hike.

Moore Cove Falls

Moore Cove Falls near Waynesville NC

Moore Cove Falls is a popular hike and pretty waterfall located in the Pisgah National Forest near Waynesville NC and not far from Brevard NC. 

The waterfall itself is about 50-feet tall and cascades down a rock face into a shallow pool below. Visitors can get up close to the falls and even right up under them by following a short, 0.7-mile trail that begins at a small parking area right off of U.S. Highway 276 between the Blue Ridge Parkway and Brevard NC.

The trail to Moore Cove Falls is easy to moderare in difficulty and family-friendly, with only a moderate incline.  Hikers will enjoy the forest and listening to the sounds of the nearby stream as they make their way towards Moore Cove Falls.  There is also a small creek crossing on the way, with a smaller waterfall and wading areas.

Once at Moore Cove Falls, hikers can take in the view from a wooden viewing deck or go past the deck to the base of the falls, and enjoy the cool mist of the waterfall as it cascades down. There really isn't much of a pool to swim in, so it's more like a natural shower.  But still makes for a great hike, and a unique way to cool off on a hot summer day.

Sliding Rock

The most well known and by far most popular swimming hole near Waynesville NC and in the Blue Ridge Mountains as a whole is Sliding Rock.    

Sliding Rock is a natural water slide located in  Pisgah National Forest near Waynesville NC. It is and has been for many years, a popular destination for families looking for an exciting, fun and unique outdoor experience.

Sliding rock itself is 60-foot long and descends down to a pool where you drop a few feet into a a 7-foot deep pool of crisp cold water water. The rock is smooth, allowing swimmers to slide down the rock face and plunge into the refreshing pool below.

Average water temperature year-round is around 55F year-round, making it a popular spot for cooling off during hot summer days.

There is a small fee to enter the area, mostly to cover keeping the area maintained and to pay the life guards, but the small fee is well worth it.  Yes, there are life guards during primary hours during the day and on weekends.

It's important to note that the slide can be very fast and exhilarating, so visitors should exercise caution.  It's important to wear appropriate clothing as well, as sliding down the rocks will quickly wear through standard bathing suit materials.  We strongly recommend wear cut-off jeans. 

Sunburst Swimming Hole

Sunburst Swimming Hole is a popular swimming destination, fishing, and "hang-out" area for locals and visitors that is located in Pisgah National Forest near Waynesville. 

The water a Sunburst Swimming hole is crystal clear and very cool, making it a refreshing spot to cool off during the hot summer months. There is a small "beach area" and numerous large rocks for  sunbathing or to enjoy a picnic.

The water depth varies from just a few feet to over 6 foot, allowing swimmings of different ages and skill levels to enjoy the swimming hole.  There is also a large rock to jump off of, and swinging rope.

Sunburst Swimming Hole is located along the East Fork of the Pigeon River and is accessible from just off the road and next to the parking area.  The swimming hole is almost directly across from a public camping area.

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