5 Hikes to Swimming Holes: Where to Find the Best Ones

These Hikes Lead You to Cool Summer Swimming Holes

Hiking is one of the best ways to get your heart pumping! It’s great exercise while enjoying all the beauty of Mother Nature. The downside?

You get a little hot and sweaty. So why not kick it up a notch and hike towards a reward at the end of the trail, a swimming hole! Here are a few of our favorites.

Moormans River and Big Branch Falls

Big Branch Falls

Photo Courtesy of Virginia Trail Guide


The Shenandoah National Park is loaded with beautiful places to hike and swim. One of the most popular places is Moormans River and Big Branch Falls.

A 4.5 mile round trip hike, it’s family-friendly with hikers bringing their dogs and small children to enjoy the waterfall. Families enjoy stopping along the river to skip stones and eat snacks, too.

At the 2.0 mile marker, the trail will gain some elevation. At 2.15 miles, you can take a side trail to Big Branch Falls. You’ll see the lower falls pretty quickly. At 2.25 miles, you’ll come to the larger Big Branch Falls.

Voila! You’re there. 



Mint Springs Valley Park

Mint Springs Valley Park

Photo courtesy of kidsinpark.com


This beautiful 520 acre park located in Albemarle County has miles of trails, swimming, and fishing in the lakes. These same lakes once provided the drinking water for the Town of Crozet, but today, they serve as a habitat for Black Crappie, Largemouth Bass, native Bluegill, Bream and stocked Rainbow Trout.

Rising 2,000 feet above Mint Springs Valley is Buck Elbow Mountain, a gorgeous backdrop if there ever was one. Take a hike and then head to one of the lakes!



Blue Hole

Hikes to Swimming Holes--Blue Hole

Photo Courtesy of healthyincville.wordpress.com


Although the hike to Blue Hole is only a three-mile round trip, it is steeper but well worth the extra work.

Located on the South Fork Moormans River Trail, it’s usually less crowded than its counterpart, Snake Hole.

The water is refreshing and it’s beautiful! You can’t tell if from the picture, but Blue Hole is quite deep.



St. Mary’s Falls

St. Mary's Falls, Raphine, VA


This is another great family hiking and swimming adventure! Located in Raphine, St. Mary’s Falls is an easy hike with little elevation that rewards you with a beautiful Blue Ridge waterfall and a swimming hole.

The Saint Mary’s Wilderness, one of the largest designated wilderness areas in Virginia, is an old iron ore mining area. Take water shoes for crossings and your bathing suit!




Sherando Lake

Sherando Lake

Picture courtesy of Hipcamp.com


One of the most popular recreation areas in the George Washington National Forest, the Sherando Lake Recreation area has two lakes. Recreational facilities are located between the two.

Located on 24 acres, Sherando Lake is the lower and the larger of the two lakes. It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid-1930’s.

You can camp, swim, hike, fish, and picnic. No matter where you hike, all trails lead back to this scenic swimming hole!

Find your perfect hike to a swimming hole with us. Book your reservation with the Iris Inn here!