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Summer in North Carolina goes hand in hand with soaring temperatures and devastating humidity. Luckily the riveting scenery of the state is teeming with rivers, streams, and mountain springs that equate to refreshing swimming holes where you can find refuge from the blistering heat.
*Safety Considerations Courtesy of National Forests in North Carolina:
- Heed posted warning signs indicating danger and stay on established trails.
- Never climb on or around waterfalls and never play in the water above a waterfall.
- Never jump off waterfalls or dive into plunge pools at the base of waterfalls. Rocks and logs can be hidden beneath the surface of the water.
- Often waterfall pools have swirling water or currents that can drag and keep you underwater.
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Conveniently located off the Blue Ridge Parkway is a deep pool at the end of a short cascade that allows for dipping and even jumping from boulders for a bigger splash. Named for adventurous locals, Skinny Dip Falls is still a public place, and pants are required, despite its cheeky name.
A giant pool tucked away in DuPont Forest, visitors come for the swimming at Hooker Falls rather than the small waterfall. The lush green surroundings and lack of current make it a formidable summer heat contender.
If you enjoy beautiful mountain scenery, Lake Lure is a fun spot to swim. Part of the Hickory Nut Gorge, the lake is lined with a large beach and speckled with popular attractions including the Lake Lure Golf Club, and the Flowering Bridge, which was closed to traffic in 2011 and is now home to lush gardens.
Once an overrun resort town, White Lake is now a peaceful retreat for swimmers. The feature is shallow the entire way across, layered in soft, pearly sand and covered with sparkling clear water, very much unlike its murky comrades. Its crystal clear waters along with its lack of tides and currents, makes it the perfect swimming hole for families with kids.
Near Brevard, Sliding Rock is a small waterfall on Looking Glass Creek. Visitors flock to slide down the 60-foot slope into the cool plunge pool below.
Turtleback Falls is another quintessential North Carolina swimming hole deep in Pisgah National Forest. It’s about a 3-mile hike from Gorges State Park to the falls. Strong swimmers will take an adrenaline-fueled ride down the slippery rocks down a 20-foot drop into the cool waters below.