Last Updated on September 22, 2020
Last Updated on September 22, 2020
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Skinny Dip Falls in Transylvania County (near Brevard) might once have been a secret but it has since become a very popular spot, especially in the hot summer months. A short and easy hike will get you to this swimming hole off the Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 417), which is another reason why it’s so well-known.
The walk will take you through a dense picturesque forest and if you arrive at Skinny Dip Falls early enough, it’s possible for you to enjoy it alone. But before you get to jumping in, we think you should know a few things, including safety tips, info about the hike, and more.
These unique places to stay near Asheville will make a nice compliment to the Skinny Dip Falls hike!
This post is part of our series on all the awesome places to visit in Western North Carolina, specifically highlighting waterfalls near Asheville, Brevard, and Cherokee. We’ve also included Skinny Dip Falls in our guide to hikes near Asheville.
Skinny Dip Falls
For quick Skinny Dip Falls directions and quick info, please scroll to the bottom of this post. We suggest you keep reading for details about the hike, safety info, and tips for photographers, though.
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 full parking lot the falls weren’t so busy that we felt uncomfortable.
Milepost 417 is the Looking Glass Rock Overlook parking lot and easiest access to Skinny Dip Falls. We once stopped here to checkout Looking Glass Rock and didn’t even realize that a beautiful, semi-secret swimming hole sat about half a mile away.
Hiking to Skinny Dip Falls (and the Swimming Hole)
From the parking lot, you’ll cross the road to reach the trail to Skinny Dip Falls. There should be an arrowed sign and a white circle blaze, which also indicates that this is part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
The 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. Take the stairs going down and cross the bridge that is laid out over top of one of the falls.
I’ll be honest, it took some courage for me to cross this bridge, but Carl and Kiddo did it like champs!
The Falls and Swimming Hole Details
Skinny Dip Falls is approximately 30 feet in overall height but consists of 3 levels with the swimming hole in-between. 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 a true skinny dipping swimming hole. Regardless of whether you want to chance it and go clothing-optional (don’t), this is a wonderful place to swim. Also, there is no admission fee required to enter.
Safety Tips (for Jumping and Swimming)
There are wonderful swimming holes all around the waterfall and are perfect for children and adults of all ages. There is no lifeguard on duty and all swimming, jumping, and climbing is at your own risk.
If you are one of the brave ones who decide to jump off the rocks into the swimming hole, remember to pull your feet up as you jump. The water is about 6 to 15 feet deep depending on levels, so please also keep that in mind when deciding to jump in.
There are several small and shallow wading areas at the top level of the falls as well as the bottom level. Bring appropriate life vests and puddle jumpers for the kiddos even if they are strong swimmers. Moving water is a lot different than still pools and it is always important to wear a life vest while in a current.
Additional Photography Tips
If you are a photographer and want to grab some shots of the falls without people, we have been told to head there early in the morning, especially if it’s on the chilly side. People will start heading to the falls midmorning, and I’m sure most photographers will want to hit the spots before them!
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 that you can add to your day’s itinerary.
Blue Ridge Parkway Stops
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 longterm travelers and there are a couple of trails (Summit and Buck Spring) to check out.
- 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-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 housed with info to share about America’s first forestry school.
Sliding Rock Falls
13 miles (23 minutes)
Keep going on US-276 and you’ll quickly realize why this road is part of the Waterfall Byway. Sliding Rock Falls is a major reason, as this exciting natural waterslide is one of the most popular spots in all of Western North Carolina.
Moore Cove Falls
14 miles (23 minutes)
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 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.
Mill Shoals, French Broad Falls, and Bird Rock Falls
16 miles (26 minutes)
These three falls are grouped together because they’re so close to each other. Mill Shoals Falls and French Broad Falls run right next to each other and Bird Rock Falls are accessible after a 1/2 mile hike past the other two. Just keep in mind that you’re on someone else’s property when visiting these falls, so be respectful.
Ready to Visit Skinny Dip Falls?
We love this waterfall/swimming hole and consider it among the best in North Carolina. Of course, we’re always open to more suggestions and love investigating based on your recommendations!
Have you ever visited Skinny Dip Falls? What did you think of this awesome place? And if you haven’t been yet, we’d love to know when you plan to make the trip out there!
Skinny Dip Falls Quick Guide
Address: Blue Ridge Pkwy, Canton, NC 28716
Tips: Arrive Early, Practice Caution, and Swim, Jump, and Climb at YOUR OWN RISK