The 9 Best Swimming Holes in Gatlinburg + Insider’s Tips

The 9 Best Swimming Holes in Gatlinburg + Insider’s Tips

The Great Smoky Mountains offer plenty of swimming options for visitors to enjoy. Whether you prefer to take a refreshing dip in your Gatlinburg cabin with a pool or cool off in one of the natural swimming holes, each option is sure to invigorate and revitalize you. For those who prefer to just dip their toes, there are plenty of swimming holes in Gatlinburg with warm rocks to bask on and let the babbling waters soothe and calm you.

1. Midnight Hole

Midnight Hole is one of the best-known swimming holes in the Great Smoky Mountains. Located at Big Creek on the North Carolina/Tennessee state line, just inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this swimming spot is formed where the creek flows between two large boulders. 

The trail to this swimming hole follows an old railroad grade used to haul lumber out of the mountains during the logging boom. The hike to the Midnight Hole is 1.4 miles

Insider’s Tip: Before or after your dip, hike the extra half-mile up to view the spectacular Mouse Branch Falls. Located at the far side of Big Creek, these falls stand an impressive 45 feet high.

2. Metcalf Bottoms Swimming Area

This picnic area in Gatlinburg offers great access to the Little Greenbrier River. Several shallow swimming holes are scattered along this picnic area. The area is wide and makes for a perfect spot to throw a tube into the water and relax. It’s also the perfect swimming area to have a nice picnic, with many tables sitting along the water.

From there you can drive or take the small hike up to the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse adventure to the Walker Sisters Cabin (the cabin of the old teachers from the schoolhouse). 

Insider’s Tip: Once you’ve finished swimming, take Lyons Spring Road to Wears Valley. Here you will experience beautiful mountain views, cute antique stores, and some small local shops.

3. Greenbrier Swimming Holes on the Little Pigeon River

One of the clearest mountain rivers in the park, the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River flows through the Greenbrier area of the Great Smoky Mountains. This is a favorite spot for swimming and tubing in Gatlinburg.

Insider’s Tip: This area of the river is deeper, making it a safer location to swim near the waterfall.

4. The Townsend Y Swimming Area

The Townsend Y is where the Little River and the Middle Prong of Little River join. Probably the most easily accessed and popular swimming hole, this wide pool provides fun for the whole family. Located just after the Townsend entrance to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, this swimming area provides plenty of water to play in. 

Insider’s tip: Visitors can also sunbathe or enjoy a great picnic on the sloping hill above the pools and watch as sightseers enter the park.

5. The Sinks

Take a relaxing drive through the mountains and enjoy your views on your way to The Sinks. This is one of the easier swimming holes to access and as such is usually popular on hot summer days. The Sinks offers visitors one of the best waterfalls in the Smokies with a small cliff and rocks that flow down into a reservoir below. This swimming hole is a mix of rapids and deep pools. 

Insider’s tip: Remember this area is very rocky, the waterfall is massive and there are often strong currents; be cautious and never go behind or around the waterfall as this is very dangerous.

6. The Chimney Top Trail

This swimming hole is for the adventurer and skilled hiker. The Chimney Top trail is one of the most popular hikes in the Smoky Mountains because of its swimming area, beautiful mountain views, and challenging two-mile hike that gains 1,700 feet in elevation.

The cascading waters are calming, making it a great place to relax. If you’re there for the hike, follow the trailhead and be prepared for an exciting and challenging excursion. This 2-mile hike is filled with a rocky ridge-line and once you reach the top you will have a near 360-degree view that is stunning.

Insider’s tip: For those of you who are just looking for a place to cool off, this is where you can enjoy the refreshing Little Pigeon River. There are plenty of rocks to jump off into the river, however, be sure that the water levels are high enough for jumping. 

7. Deep Creek Trail Swimming Hole

Also known for its tubing, the Deep Creek Trail area offers some great swimming holes for those seeking a splash but not a ride. While you may see many tubers passing through, there is an excellent swimming hole where the creek is “deep,” for those wishing to splash and swim.

Insider’s Tip: Just over the bridge, there will be rock outcroppings that make-up the creek bank. This is where you will see many tubers pulling out or putting in for their ride. This area however is also a great swimming spot because the water is deeper.

8. Abrams Falls Swimming Hole

Located in Cades Cove, this swimming hole is a Kodak moment waiting to happen. Although Abrams falls is only 20 feet high, the large volume of water rushing over the falls makes up for its lack of height. The water plunges into a large 100-foot pool at the base that sparkles with laughter and light.

While there is a bit of hike to this swimming hole, 2.5 miles from the trailhead, viewing Abrams Falls and lounging in the swimming hole make your arduous hike worth the effort. 

Insider’s Tip: Don’t forget your camera and swimsuit for this picture-perfect spot! 

9. Indian Creek Falls Swimming Hole

This refreshing swimming hole is located at the base of Indian Creek Falls. The twenty-five foot waterfall cascades down slick rock into a clear pool. Perfect for dipping, splashing and cooling off. Visitors can bask in the beauty of the falls and splash around.

Insider’s Tip: The hike to the falls is a pleasant and easy one-mile stroll, making it an ideal destination for those who want to relax and unwind. You can bring along chairs, food, and drinks to spend more time lounging around and enjoying the serene atmosphere.

The Great Smoky Mountains offer a range of swimming holes for visitors seeking to escape the heat and enjoy the beauty of nature. From the popular Midnight Hole and Abrams Falls Swimming Hole to the Metcalf Bottoms Swimming Area and Greenbrier Swimming Holes, each swimming spot offers a unique experience to visitors. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a casual swimmer, the Great Smoky Mountains have something for everyone, and our Gatlinburg cabins at Elk Springs Resort is the perfect base to discover it all.