Because swimming in the wild after a long hike just hits different.
Living in DC means having access to many beautiful natural spots and hundreds of stunning hiking trails. A major plus? These are close to some amazing swimming spots that are perfect for cooling down after a long summer hike. While the hike may be hard, you might get tired along the way, there’s nothing more refreshing and rewarding than taking a dip at a stunning natural swimming spot!
REMEMBER: Your safety is your responsibility. Always check with park officials before swimming and follow the tips below.
- Only swim in designated swimming areas.
- Do not consume alcohol when swimming or watching children swim.
- Recreational floating devices are not replacements for life jackets.
- Swim with lifeguards present.
- Pay attention to signs and follow park rules.
1. Cunningham Falls State Park
The 78-foot-tall waterfall is the largest in Maryland. The water splashes down through a series of ledges and into a beautiful water pool at the bottom. The waterfall can be reached through a half-mile trail through the park which also boasts a 44-acre lake and two swimming beaches.
2. Patapsco Valley State Park
At this 16,043-acre park in Maryland, you’ll find plenty of spots to go swimming. You can swim almost anywhere along the 32 miles of the Patapsco River. The deepest swimming holes are in the McKeldin north area off of Route 32, west of Baltimore.
Note: Swimming is prohibited at all dams and whitewater rapids.
3. Buzzard Rock Hole
Buzzard Rock Hole is just below Buzzard Cliffs, a popular hiking and climbing destination in George Washington National Forest, VA. The whole is surrounded by slopping rock face, ideal for drying off and sunbathing after a refreshing dip. George Washington National Forest also has two more swimming holes, one next to the Elizabeth Furnace campground and Blue Hole south of Fort Valley Road.
4. Overall Run Falls
At 93 feet, Overall Runs has the tallest waterfall in Shenandoah National Park, VA. The stream falls into a series of three beautiful swimming holes that can be reached after a “mildly” tiring 8.5-mile loop hike through the park. Once you head into the natural pools you’ll find that the water is surprisingly chilly even during the hottest summer months.
The trail measures 9 miles and is peppered with six stunning waterfalls ranging from 35 to 86 feet and many smaller cascades. Luckily for us, the waterfalls are spread out along the trail so you don’t have to do the whole trail in one sitting to get to them.
[Featured image: @raihan_rdg / Instagram]