There’s nothing quite like a natural swimming hole to beat the humidity of a North Carolina summer. And since Asheville is surrounded by mountains, protected forests, and state parks, there are all kinds of spots open to the public for swimming, rafting, kayaking, and even tubing. Best of all, mountain springs offer some of the iciest cold water all year round, making waterfalls and rivers in the area the best spots to cool off this summer. Since there are so many options to choose from, we thought we’d help you shorten the list by offering up 7 of our favorite swimming holes to check out near Asheville:
If you’re planning on making a day out of your swimming hole trip, then there’s no better place than Lake Lure up in Hickory Nut Gorge. Head to the lake after stopping at nearby Chimney Rock or take in the major land formation right from the beach! Believe it or not, Lake Lure is a man-made lake that’s situated right in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and it features an expansive, sandy beach. So if you’re looking for a traditional beach getaway with a unique view, be sure to check out Lake Lure!
For a swimming adventure that’s accessible to the entire family, Silver Run Falls is the perfect stop. Located near Cashiers in the Nantahala National Forest, the 25-foot Silver Run Falls cascade into a quiet pool that’s surrounded by a sandy beach. This is a great spot for a picnic with the kids, and because the pool is small and shallow, it’s something that even the little ones can enjoy.
No summer swimming hole list near Asheville would be complete without Sliding Rock, which is why we’ve put it right at the top of ours! If you’re not from the area, just know it’s one of the most popular spots to go to cool off in the summer, and for good reason: it’s a natural slip n’ slide! You get in the water at the top of the fall and are shot down the perfectly smooth face of this 60-foot rock into an ice cold pool at the bottom. It’s a pretty popular attraction, which is why there’s a lifeguard on duty on major holidays, and also why you should try and go on a weekday if you’d like to avoid lines. If you do end up going on a Saturday in the summer, know it will be crowded, but more than worth the wait.
Up for an adventure? More intrepid swimming hole seekers will love Turtleback Falls. Only accessible by a short 3.5-mile roundtrip hike, Turtleback Falls is for the stronger swimmer and the adventurously inclined. When you make it to the falls, you’ll notice that it’s another natural water slide, with one interesting twist: the end of the fall takes sliders on a 20-foot drop into a very deep pool at the bottom. This is a major favorite of locals, but it’s really best reserved for strong swimmers. The pool does have a current, which can sweep you downstream over the very dangerous Rainbow Falls when waters are high. During the summer, when there hasn’t been much rain, this is an ideal place to cool off, but be sure to take a great deal of care before sliding down the rock.
Noted as one of North Carolina’s most pristine swimming spots, the water at Harper Creek Falls is so clear you can see right to the bottom of the falls’ pool. There is a short hike to get to the falls, about 1.7 miles that can get steep in parts, so this may not be the best option for very small children. That said, this is another one of the more popular spots in the area for swimmers and explorers. There are actually two pools, both of which are fairly quiet to swim in, and feature shallower areas around the edges for wading. Please note that the crystal clear water can be deceptive in parts, as the pools are very deep in the center, despite the fact that you can still see all the way to the bottom.
If you’re looking to cool off, but don’t have the time to drive out of the city, then be sure to check out Azalea Park! Located right on the east side of town, the park backs up to the Swannanoa River, making this part of the river public land. Though the city doesn’t maintain the water, its status as public property makes it one of the most convenient swimming holes around. Best of all, the sunny park is an ideal spot to dry off and warm up after splashing around in the river all afternoon.
For a more secluded, truly mountainous swimming hole, Midnight Hole is the place to be this summer. Tucked far away in the heart of the Smoky Mountains National Park, this swimming hole is actually just a short 1.4-mile hike from the Big Creek Campground Parking lot. Another crystal clear swimming spot, Midnight Hole is surrounded on all sides by the mountains and features tons of giant boulders to rest on or jump off of. One of North Carolina’s hidden gems, this swimming hole is likely to be less populated, simply because of its more secluded location.
We hope this list helps you find the perfect swimming hole for you and your family near Asheville this summer! And if you’re looking for somewhere to live in the area, be sure to check out the properties at Couch Mountain. A sustainable mountain living community, Couch Mountain offers the peace and quiet of mountain forests, with easy accessibility to downtown Asheville just minutes away. Visit our website for a look at some of our gorgeous properties, or give our office a call at 866-936-5263 for more information!