30 Freshwater Swimming Holes

by Casey | Posted on July 14th, 2014

Summer calls for a dip in the water, and we have fresh mountain streams and rivers that you’ll find most refreshing on a hot day. Our list has been compiled through various avenues of research, including tips from local residents. If they love these swimming holes, you’re sure to as well!

Dismal Falls

Dismal Falls

If you are unfamiliar with mountain streams, let me tell you that they’re cold. Pack a picnic and refresh yourself in the Maury River at one of these public access points in Rockbridge County:

Swim or wade at the base of a waterfall!

Choosing your James River access point can be tricky, as this gem can roar mightily in certain areas, especially after a heavy rain upstream. Try these locations, but never swim alone.

Splash around in the oldest river in North America, the New River.

Blue Hole – many river towns have a special swimming hole they dub “Blue Hole.” Aforementioned Goshen Pass is sometimes known as Blue Hole by locals and here are two more:

  • A site James Madison University students and Harrisonburg locals call “Blue Hole” is located on Dry River off Rawley Pike (Route 33) in Rockingham County. A large boulder makes a fantastic jumping platform into this deep swimming hole.
  • University of Virginia students love their own “Blue Hole” on Moormans River near the Sugar Hollow Reservoir in Crozet. This swimming hole is within the boundaries of Shenandoah National Park.

Dunlap Creek flows beneath the renowned Humpback Bridge in Alleghany County. When the water’s high enough, it’s a great place for a dip. Otherwise, dipping your toes works, too, at this beautiful, historic site.

Dunlap Creek flows beneath Humpback Bridge.

Dunlap Creek flows beneath Humpback Bridge.

Craig Creek Recreation Area is 130 acres in Botetourt County that’s available for camping, picnics, and of course, swimming! The water is gentle and perfect for families.

Blackwater Creek at Hollins Mill in Lynchburg is shallow for wading in to cool off on a hot summer day and is also an access point for the Blackwater Creek Natural Area and Trail.

While there’s no designated swimming area (like a beach) at Shenandoah River Raymond R. “Andy” Guest Jr. State Park on the Shenandoah River in Warren County, you can wade out and splash around or tube to your heart’s content.

Off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Rockbridge County at Petite’s Gap (milepost 71) is an unmarked gravel road (Petite’s Gap Road). Descend, winding, for several miles until you cross East Fork Elk Creek in Sulphur Spring Hollow. At the second crossing, pull off – your swimming hole is in that vicinity.

St. Mary’s River is home to St. Mary’s Falls, which can be found in Saint Mary’s Wilderness in Augusta County. This swimming hole includes a rock slide, which can be great fun if the water level is just right.  It’s just south of the falls.

Please enjoy Virginia’s swimming holes with a friend; never swim alone. Also, follow “leave no trace” practices when experiencing any part of Virginia’s outdoors.

Which of these have you been to? Which do you love that aren’t listed here? Leave a comment to tell us all about it.

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3 Comments

Douglas says:

White Oak Canyon is a fantastic swimming hole and you really can get right under the waterfall. If you need a place to stay when visiting White Oak Canyon or Old Rag Mountain please check out. The Cabins At Rose River Farm http://www.roseriverfarm.com/accommodations.html. There are also several great swimming holes on the Robinson River right across the road from the Cabins. You just can’t be a natural swimming hole!!!!

Leslie says:

Are there any swimming holes closer to Northern Virginia? I know of the Great Falls area, but other than that, I’m not sure!

Casey says:

Unfortunately, I don’t know either. I spent a fair amount of time researching and didn’t find any clear winners. One near the Fredericksburg area was struck from my list because of injuries and fatalities that have been recorded.

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