You Can Hike to This Hidden Swimming Hole in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Do you know the way to Midnight Swimming Hole?

Midnight Swimming Hole Great Smoky Mountain National Park, NC
Photo: Will McElwain/Flickr

With 522,419 acres of wilderness spread across two states, it would take the better part of a lifetime to experience every treasure Great Smoky Mountains National Park has to offer—especially when you factor in the crowds. With more than 14.1 million visitors in 2021, Great Smoky Mountains the most visited national park in the country.

But that doesn't mean there aren't hidden gems still left to be explored. Our friends at Travel + Leisure recently highlighted Midnight Swimming Hole, a "mini oasis" in the North Carolina side of the park.

You can access this emerald-green swimming hole via a short yet moderate hike (roughly 1.5 miles each way) on Big Creek Trail which starts in Cataloochee. But according to Visit NC Smokies, finding the entrance takes a little bit of effort.

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"At 1.5 miles begin looking for a small white circle painted on a tree to the right of the trail," the website explains. "This is the only mark that you are at Midnight Hole. Just look to your left and you will see a large green pool. Here the river is squeezed between two massive boulders to make a six-foot waterfall with a deep pool beneath it"

Two things to keep in mind: dogs aren't allowed on the trail and the water, though refreshing, is famously chilly.

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