calm reflecting river in smoky mountains
August 8, 2017

The Great Smoky Mountains National park ridges straddle through the border of Tennessee and North Carolina and sits on half a million acres of land. The park is renowned for its plants and animals diversity, beauty and rich mountain Appalachian culture. The Smoky Mountains is surrounded by waterfalls, creeks, and rivers that plunge to form natural swimming spots guaranteed to offer a refreshing and invigorating experience to those who splash and swim in them. Below is a list of the best swimming holes in the smoky mountains where you can enjoy pristine waters with a view of scenic beauty to behold.

The Sinks

The Little River forms one of the deepest and most impressive swimming holes that the Smoky Mountains offers. Locals here claim that it was named, ‘The Sinks’ after a logging train derailed and plunged into the water hole and was never recovered. Though this beautiful spot may appear as a natural waterfall and a swimming spot, it is a product of logging activity in the area. Loggers often used the Little River to float logs from the mountains. However, when logs jammed at the river bend, the lumber companies would use dynamite to free the logs. The continuous use of dynamite worked perfectly after exploding and creating this magnificent swimming pool.

On hot summer days, visitors enjoy swimming in the 10-foot deep pool surrounded by rocks to play around and jump into the pristine waters. The pool also offers a view of the crystal waters flowing under high current through the rocks and cliff of the waterfall into the reservoir below. Due to the strong currents, deep pools, and roaring rapids, it is important to take caution when in the Sinks.

Abram Falls

Located in Cades Cove area is a picturesque creek leading to Abram Falls, which is the most voluminous waterhole in the smoky mountains. The fall is named after the Indian Cherokee Chief Oskuah, whose village once stood several miles downstream, but later changed his name to Abram. Abram Falls is 20 feet high hence; the waters follow under high current and plunge into the pool below which offers the best swimming experience of the smoky mountains. The pool is 100 feet wide providing ample space for all swimmers to enjoy the touch of the sparkling waters. When swimming, it is advisable to keep off the base of the waterfall due to the turbulence of the waterfall and the slimy rocks.

Midnight Hole

The magical Midnight hole is certainly one the greatest swimming holes in the smoky mountains. The swimming spot has been a long secret for locals and visitors hiding deep inside the Big Creek of the Smoky Mountains. You can enjoy the scenic view of the boulders and cascading waterfall as you sunbathe on the huge rocks on the edges of the pool. When the sun shines, the dark hue of the waters forms a dark shimmering light that entices you to just take a cool dip in the cold refreshing mountain fed waters. The pool is family-friendly since it’s shallow and kids can enjoy a swim in a land away from the coastlines.

Metcalf Bottoms

Midway between Townsend and Gatlinburg lies the peaceful Metcalf Bottoms picnic area with four swimming holes. The swimming holes are shallow and scattered around the picnic area hence providing enough area for everyone including kids. You can enjoy swimming and tumble in the calm waters. Below the crystalline cool waters are water snakes but they are not poisonous and people enjoy playing with them. After a refreshing dive, you can take a walk to the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse and have a view of the antique one-room schoolhouse with desks and chairs last used in the 1930’s. There is also the Walker Sisters Cabin, which was known as the cabin for old teachers from the schoolhouse. The picnic area around the swimming holes has tables where you can keep in touch with Mother Nature’s revitalizing air and a splendid panorama of the dense tropical forest and the mountain ranges above.

The Townsend Y

Nestled just after the entrance to the Townsend National Park is the largest and most inviting swimming hole of the smoky mountains. Here, the road to Townsend splits into two, forming a letter ‘Y’, where one road leads to Cades Cove while the other leads to Elkmont. At this same place, the Little River and the Middle Prong of the Little River join to form the magnificent swimming hole, which provides fun for the whole family. The pool is 30 feet wide and six feet deep providing a tranquil place to relax in the cascading waters. There are plenty of rocks in the pool to jump into the crystal waters. Around the pool, there are large rocks and a grassy hillside to spread a blanket and enjoy the spectacular view of the waterfall and the slopey hills surrounding the park.

The Chimney Top Trail

The Chimney Top Trail is the most popular and the most rewarding hiking trail in the Smokies. At the beginning of the trailhead, there is a bridge crossing the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. Underneath the bridge, the river forms boulders and deep pools that offer a rewarding cool off point after a hike to the Chimneys. The cascading waters of the pool are inviting and are surrounded by large rocks that allow you to dive or glide to the pool. Visitors enjoy the refreshing calm waters of the pool with a stunning view of the Chimney’s highest peaks. Those who enjoy fishing can sit on the bulging rocks with their poles and fish their meal for the day.

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