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Skinny Dip Falls (The Blue Ridge Parkway’s Best Swimming Hole)

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on December 19, 2023.

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Skinny Dip Falls in Transylvania County (near Brevard) was once a very popular spot, especially in the hot summer months. A short and easy hike (0.75 miles) will get you to this former swimming hole off the Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 417), another reason why it’s so well-known.

This popular waterfall is recovering from damage received from Tropical Storm Fred in 2021. It’s open to the public again, and they have restored parts of the trail to make the waterfall accessible, but it does look much different now.

There’s no longer a swimming hold as the sides of the creek were washed out, so just know the pictures you see are from before the floods. We hope to return soon to update them.

The walk will take you through a dense picturesque forest, and if you arrive at Skinny Dip Falls early enough, you can enjoy it alone. But before jumping in, we think you should know a few things, including safety tips, info about the hike, and more.

Here’s how we’ve organized this guide!

  • Where is Skinny Dip Falls?
  • The Skinny Dip Falls Hike
  • The Falls and Swimming Hole Details
  • Safety Tips (for Jumping and Swimming)
  • Additional Photography Tips
  • Nearby Hikes, Waterfalls, and Attractions

Read More: Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes

Where is Skinny Dip Falls?

Address: Blue Ridge Pkwy, Canton, NC 28716

The Looking Glass Rock Overlook is across the street from access to the Skinny Dip Falls hike.

As we briefly mentioned earlier, Skinny Dip Falls is located off the Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 417) within 40 minutes of Brevard and an hour’s drive from Asheville.

This is a popular stop along the Parkway, but don’t let a full parking lot deter you from hitting the trails. There are several areas to explore from Looking Glass Rock Overlook, and even with a whole parking lot, the falls weren’t so busy that we felt uncomfortable.

Milepost 417 is the Looking Glass Rock Overlook parking lot and the easiest access to Skinny Dip Falls. We once stopped here to check out Looking Glass Rock and didn’t even realize that a beautiful, semi-secret swimming hole sat about half a mile away.

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The Skinny Dip Falls Hike

  • From the parking lot, you’ll cross the road to reach the trail to Skinny Dip Falls. An arrowed sign and a white circle blaze should indicate that this is part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
  • The 0.75-mile hike starts out flat and moderate, and many like to stop at the unusual “dragon” tree. The trail is well-maintained but rocky at points.
  • Keep an eye down at your feet, as there are a lot of roots and rocks to trip over. As you progress through the trail, you’ll pass over several small streams.
  • When you’ve reached Skinny Dip Falls, a viewing area and a bench will welcome you at the top of the stairs. This viewpoint is perfect for photographers.

Read More: 100+ Places to Visit in Western North Carolina

The Falls and Swimming Hole Details

The bridge here was a victim of the Tropical Storm and is no longer there.

Skinny Dip Falls is approximately 30 feet in overall height. Yellowstone Prong is the creek that flows over the rocks (same as Graveyard Fields), and even in the heat of summer, it is still very cold!

Despite the name, Skinny Dip Falls is not an actual skinny dipping swimming hole.

This area used to include the best of all the swimming holes near Brevard, NC, where you could come for swimming, jumping, and climbing. However, the pools are no longer there since the flood.

Several small and shallow wading areas are at the top level of the falls, but they are only a couple of feet deep.

Read More: Waterfalls near Asheville

Additional Photography Tips

If you are a photographer, getting a nice shot of the falls is pretty easy.

Before, you would have to get there super early to photograph the falls without people, but now it hardly has any foot traffic, so you shouldn’t have anything to worry about!

Nearby Hikes, Waterfalls, and Attractions

There are more than a few more spots near Skinny Dip Falls, and it was hard to narrow this down to our favorites. Here are some spots within a 30-minute drive of Skinny Dip Falls to add to your day’s itinerary.

Blue Ridge Parkway Stops

Graveyard Fields is one of our favorite waterfall hikes and it's just down the road from Skinny Dip Falls.

Skinny Dip Falls is in a sweet spot along the Blue Ridge Parkway. This section alone is one of our favorite scenic routes in all of North Carolina! Here are some stops before and after Skinny Dip Falls that you should consider when driving through this area:

  • Mount Pisgah (MP 408): This was once owned by George Washington Vanderbilt (Biltmore fans?). The Pisgah Inn & Restaurant is convenient for long-term travelers, and there are a couple of trails (Summit and Buck Spring) to check out.

Read More: How to Enjoy Christmas at Biltmore

  • Cold Mountain Overlook (MP 412): A novel and film are named for Cold Mountain, which you can see from either this overlook (MP 411.8) or another at MP 412.2.
  • Graveyard Fields (MP 418): This is one of the Parkway’s most popular hiking spots. A 3.5-mile hike will take you by two waterfalls. Most people often do the shorter 1/3 mile hike to Lower Falls.
  • Devil’s Courthouse (MP 422): An easy-to-hard hike (0.9 miles) that leads you to a rock outcrop with 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains.
  • Richland Balsam Overlook (MP 431): At 6,020 feet, this is the highest point you can drive to on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There’s a sign at the parking lot that commemorates this. From here, you have 38 more miles of Parkway to go until the end at MP 469.

Cradle of Forestry

9 miles (18 minutes)

The Cradle of Forestry is the first of a few stops off US-276 that we’ll mention here. There are accessible trails, exhibits, and buildings with information to share about America’s first forestry school.

Sliding Rock

13 miles (23 minutes)

Sliding Rock Falls from the lookout deck

Keep going on US-276, and you’ll quickly realize why this road is part of the Waterfall Byway. A major reason is Sliding Rock, as this exciting natural waterslide is one of the most popular spots in all of Western North Carolina.

Read More: 20 of the Best North Carolina Road Trips (Scenic Byways and Highways)

Moore Cove Falls

14 miles (23 minutes)

Christina looking up at Moore Cove Falls behind a wooden fence

Just down the road from Sliding Rock is the Moore Cove Falls Trailhead parking. After a short hike (1.5 miles roundtrip), you’ll find the 50-foot falls and enjoy looking at them for quite a while.

Looking Glass Falls

15 miles (25 minutes)

Looking Glass Falls falling among lush vegetation

Looking Glass Falls is viewable from US-276 and one you might recognize if you’re familiar with the Brevard area. You can hop out of your car and walk down the stairs beyond the railing for a closer look. That’ll help convince you that these are among the most beautiful falls inside Pisgah National Forest.

Read More: 4 National Forests in NC (Things to Do + Why We Love Them!)

French Broad Falls (Mill Shoals) and Bird Rock Falls

16 miles (26 minutes)

French Broad Falls (Mill Shoals) and Bird Rock Falls next to one another

These three falls are grouped because they’re so close to each other. French Broad Falls (Mill Shoals) is a twin waterfall, and Bird Rock Falls is reachable after a 1/2 mile hike past the first two.

Remember that you’re on someone else’s property when visiting these falls, so be respectful.

Read More: Sunburst Falls (How to Find this Amazing Roadside Waterfall!)

Ready to Visit Skinny Dip Falls?

We love this waterfall and consider it among the best in North Carolina. Of course, we’re always open to more suggestions and would love to investigate based on your recommendations!

Have you ever visited Skinny Dip Falls? What did you think of this remarkable place? And if you haven’t been yet, we’d love to know when you plan to make the trip out there!

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