Saturday, September 3, 2011

Waterfall Hikes Along the Blue Ridge Parkway - Skinny Dip Falls

There are many wonderful waterfall hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway - and Skinny Dip Falls is one of my favorites, with easy access from Asheville, NC, just 1/2 mile or less off the Blue Ridge Parkway at MPM 417.

You won't likely find any skinny dippers and you might get some funny looks if you skinny dip, but that's what this delightful swimming hole is named.  And what a wonderful and sweet little spot.

How to get there.  From Asheville, NC, take the Blue Ridge Parkway - get on at the NC Arboretum (MPM 393) and 191 junction.  11 tunnels between this junction and the trail head to Skinny Dip Falls, make this section of the Parkway quite fun and interesting to drive along.   At MPM 417 and the Looking Glass Rock overlook, pull off and park here.  From this pullout, first, take in the impressive view of Looking Glass Rock, a prominent and special feature of the area - one of the many granite domes that bubbled up who knows how many millions of years ago and created the many similar & unique granite features of the Western NC mountains.  Then you'll notice a trail head across the road - access to the "White Dot" or Mountains to Sea Trail.  Take this trail and shortly, go up a few rough steps and take a left - the White Dot trail will branch off to the right.  The trail is rough but easy going and fairly short to the overlook of Skinny Dip Falls - a quarter to half mile distance total from the parking area to the falls.  You'll find a set of steps down a serious set of wooden stairs to a bridge across the creek, which allows for easy access to this great swimming hole, complete with jumping rock.  The pool is small but probably 5 feet deep - enough to enjoy a good jump or two (or three!).  There is another swimming hole below the first with a very cool channel between the rocks.  Swim up this channel to a cascade for a little spa treatment in the woods (haha)!  The water is cold and quite refreshing on a hot summer day.   Exploring up the creek is fun and interesting with lots of cascading a - just watch your footing and be careful in your explorations.