North Carolinians Are Flocking to These 5 Amazing Smoky Mountain Swimming Holes

Written by Niccoy Walker
Updated: July 21, 2023
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There’s nothing better than cooling off in a refreshing swimming hole on a hot summer’s day, particularly if that swimming hole is in the Great Smoky Mountains! Located in the Southeastern United States, the Great Smoky Mountains are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains along the Tennessee and North Carolina border. They are renowned for their lush forests, ancient mountains, diverse wildlife, and cascading waterfalls. If ever there was a place to experience a true swimming hole, this spectacular stretch of mountains is it. Discover these five amazing Smoky Mountain swimming holes and learn how to find them and why they are so popular.

Note: most of the swimming holes of the Smoky Mountains are located in Tennessee, so they may require a bit of a drive for North Carolinians.

This is our top 5 swimming holes in the Smoky Mountains.

1. The Townsend Wye

West Prong Of Little Pigeon River Rushing Through Forest In Fall in the Smokies

The Townsend Wye sits along the Little River in the Smoky Mountains.

©Kelly vanDellen/

Located in Townsend, Tennessee, The Townsend Wye is a popular attraction in the Great Smoky Mountains. During the summer, this area is a favorite spot for hiking, picnicking, and swimming. The water is clear and refreshing, consisting of shallow rapids and a decent-sized deeper swimming hole. It can be chilly, but the shallow area near the bank is perfect for young children to splash and play. This swimming hole sits along the Little River, which is also excellent for tubing. And when you’re done swimming, you can check out the moderately challenging Chestnut Top Trail, where wildflowers grow in abundance.

2. The Sinks

The Sinks

In this lovely deep valley, the full flow of the Little Pigeon River sinks.

©Chris Light / Creative Commons – License

The Sinks is one of the most amazing Smoky Mountain swimming holes and also one of the most picturesque. Located along the Little River Road, this swimming hole features a scenic waterfall and deep pools. It is a unique area that was created by mining blasts and features large cliffs and boulders around the water. It is also a popular hiking and picnicking area, so bring good shoes! While The Sinks is a crowded swimming and diving area, there are signs posted that discourage such activities. There have been several drownings and injuries in the water over the decades, so swim at your own risk. 

3. Midnight Hole

The Midnight Hole waterhole in the Smoky Mountains.

The Midnight Hole is a secret swimming spot in North Carolina.

©Betty Shelton/

The Midnight Hole has long been a secret swimming spot in North Carolina for many years. It’s located inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Big Creek area. You may have to trek to find this spot, but it’s well worth the effort. Large boulders surround crystal clear, spring-fed mountain water. Small, gentle waterfalls encircle the rocks. This spot is not clearly marked, so you may have some trouble finding it unless you follow the weekend crowd. From the parking lot, take the Big Creek Trail through the forest for about a mile and a half. Weekends are very busy. But you might find a quiet spot during the weekday.

4. Greenbrier

Greenbrier Area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park ,TN

Greenbrier is one of the most amazing Smoky Mountain swimming holes.

©Jerry Whaley/

Located along the Little Pigeon River on the northern side of the Smoky Mountain National Park, Greenbrier is a little cove and swimming hole surrounded by large rocks, boulders, and dense green trees. The swimming area is wide and deep, featuring clear water and plenty of room to splash and play. The water is calm, so you won’t have to worry about currents. There is also a picnic shelter for a family event or a picnic lunch. Several trailheads begin in Greenbrier and lead to other popular areas, like Ramsey Cascades, a popular cascading waterfall.

5. Metcalf Bottoms

Metcalf Bottoms Creek Long Exposure

Metcalf Bottoms is a lovely picnic and swimming spot in the Smoky Mountains.

©Gordon Goode /

If you grew up near the Smoky Mountains, you probably went to Metcalf Bottoms for summer fun with family and friends. It’s a popular scenic spot for fishing, tubing, hiking, picnicking, and swimming. Plan a creek day and pack a picnic lunch or bring something to grill. Kids have easy access to the swimming area from the picnic tables, and you can’t beat the beautiful scenery. There is a calm and clear area for swimming and shallow rapids nearby for tubing and kayaking. If you want a picnic table closer to the creek, plan on getting there earlier in the day during the summer. This is definitely a favorite spot in the park! Just look out for coyotes and small black bears that like to roam around food sources. 

Summary of 5 Amazing Smoky Mountain Swimming Holes

RankAmazing Smoky Mountain Swimming Holes
1The Townsend Wye
2The Sinks
3Midnight Hole
5Metcalf Bottoms

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Betty Shelton/

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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer for A-Z Animals and her primary focus is on birds, travel, and interesting facts of all kinds. Niccoy has been writing and researching about travel, nature, wildlife, and business for several years and holds a business degree from Florida State College. A resident of Florida, Niccoy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and spending time at the beach.

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