Is there any better way to beat the heat than with a relaxing dip? Okay, maybe a relaxing dip in a secluded spot that lets you bask in the nature around you. These out-of-the-way swimming spots make the perfect afternoon escape and include beautiful scenery and a bit of adventure for outdoor lovers of all ages.
Cummins Falls, Cookeville, Tennessee
Located in Cummins Falls State Park, Cummins Falls is a 75-foot cascade that drops into a deep pool. These beautiful falls have been attracting bathers and swimmers for more than 100 years. Accessing this delightful swimming area requires a steep, mile-long hike into the gorge. Cummins Falls State Park is located in the Cordell Hull Watershed, one of the most bio-diverse watersheds in the world. In addition to incredible swimming, be sure to hike the trails and look for wildlife.
Robert H. Treman State Park, Ithaca, New York
The area surrounding Ithaca, New York, is home to more than 150 waterfalls within a 10-mile radius, but not all are suitable for swimming. Robert H. Treman State Park includes one of the best swimming holes in the region, located in picturesque Enfield Glen. The swimming area can be accessed via a short hike along a well-maintained trail, and there are even changing rooms and picnic tables available. Swimming under the main falls is a deliciously cold experience, and there are 15 more stunning waterfalls to see along the gorge trail, including the 115-foot Lucifer Falls, which is a sight to behold.
Hooker Falls, Asheville, North Carolina
Swimming holes are part of an adventurous lifestyle in Asheville, and if you ask a dozen locals where their favorite swimming spot is, you’ll get a different answer from everyone. Hooker Falls is located in the DuPont State Forest and can be accessed via an easy, short trail. This is a great swimming hole for kids, as the water is relatively calm and the falls are only 12-feet high. There’s a rope swing for more adventurous swimmers, and you can venture behind the waterfall for a unique view.
Fossil Springs Creek, Camp Verde, Arizona
If you are willing to drive an hour on a bumpy dirt road, hike an additional mile and pay for a $6 permit, you’ll be rewarded with a day relaxing in Arizona’s clearest water. Fossil Creek has been designated a Wild and Scenic River. There are numerous swimming areas in the creek, including under the beautiful Fossil Creek Waterfall. Shade is limited here, so be sure to pack extra sunblock and your floppy hat for this adventure.
Madison Blue Spring, Lee, Florida
The highlight of Madison Blue Spring State Park is the beautiful limestone basin along the west bank of the Withlacoochee River. The swimming area is 82 feet wide and 25 feet deep, and the surrounding area is perfect for hiking, picnicking, paddling and even cave diving. The park contains one of the largest underwater cave systems in the area, and only certified divers are permitted within. Madison Blue Spring stays a balmy 72 degrees year round.
Moulton Falls, Oregon
Located at the confluence of the East Fork Lewis River and Big Tree Creek in Moulton Falls Regional Park, this area is filled with swimming holes and waterfalls, as well as huge rocks for sunbathing and cliff jumping. Old growth forests encompass both sides of the river and there are numerous trails to explore, including an easy, 2.5-mile trail that connects Moulton Falls Park to Lucia Falls Park. This is an amazing spot to escape the heat of summer, and one of the best swimming areas in the Portland area.
Johnson’s Shut-Ins, Reynolds County, Missouri
Encompassing more than 8,500 acres, Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park is a unique natural waterpark on the East Fork Black River. The shut-ins refer to a phenomenon where the river cascades over and around igneous rock that is resistant to erosion, creating numerous pools, rapids and slides within the river. A boardwalk provides easy access to the shut-ins, and the park includes numerous hiking trails, an equestrian trail and a campground.
Hamilton Pool, Dripping Springs, Texas
Hamilton Pool Preserve is a cold-water swimming hole along Hamilton Creek. The river used to run entirely underground, but when the dome above the river collapsed, the natural swimming area was exposed. Because this has become a popular swimming spot, visitors must now make reservations to visit with the Travis County Parks Department. The swimming area is accessed by a steep but short trail, and includes a sandy beach and a 50-foot waterfall. The gorgeous turquoise water and the enclosed grotto is a true gem that you would never expect to see in Texas.