Photo by Shannon Ritchie
Squeeze the last drops from summer with a visit to your local swimming hole. There are loads of hidden quarries and waterfalls tucked all over North Carolina -- we've rounded up our top 5 with suggestions on where to stop for a bite to eat while you're at it.
1. Hunt-Fish Falls Swim Hole, Pineola Road, Collettsville, NC
A 1.4 mile round trip hike crossing streams over slippery rocks takes you to the bottom of Hunt-Fish Falls where you can swim in clear, bracing waters deep within the Pisgah National Forest.
>> EAT AT: Old Hampton Store Barbeque & Tavern - 77 Ruffin St, Linville, NC
Delicious pulled pork with all the fixins served inside a 100 year old general store.
2. Sennett Hole aka Turtle Hole - West Point on the Eno City Park, 5101 North Roxboro Road, Durham, NC
An easy 2.2 mile out and back hike takes you past a working mill, over the Eno River pedestrian bridge, and around the mill pond dam down to Sennett Hole, a large pool perfect for a cool dip on a hot day, flanked by big rocks on all sides.
>> EAT AT: Monuts - 1002 9th St, Durham, NC
Inventive donut flavors, stellar breakfast sandwiches, and tasty coffee drinks.
3. Whaleback Swimming Hole, off of US-276 Brevard, NC
Earning it's name from the large granite rock rising from the middle of the water, Whaleback Swimming Hole is a 5.5 mile hike from very popular Sliding Rock in Pisgah National Forest.
>> EAT AT: Rocky’s Grill & Soda Shop - 50 S Broad Street, Brevard, NC
An all-American soda fountain with an amazing grilled pimento cheese sandwich.
4. Paradise Falls - 12296 NC-281, Tuckasegee, NC
It's a challenging 1.5 mile hike there and back, but you're rewarded with a stunning waterfall and a deep swim in chilly waters off Wolf Creek Lake in the Nantahala National Forest.
>> EAT AT: The Blind Mule at Toxaway Station - 502 Blue Ridge Road, Lake Toxaway, NC
This one's a bit fancier, but worth it for their focus on seasonal ingredients (try the locally-caught fish) and beers from all over the region.
5. Bust Your Butt Falls aka Quarry Falls - along Highway 64, 5 miles outside of Highlands, NC
Park on the side of the highway and take a short hike to a popular natural slide and swimming hole surrounded by slick boulders on the Cullasaja River in the Nantahala National Forest.
>> EAT AT: Blue Bike Cafe - 423 N 4th St, Highlands, NC
Go with the Mexican Chorizo Omelet or the Tuna Melt, and you won't be sorry.
If you're looking for more North Carolina destinations, check out the NC Made Guide to the Outer Banks, our Guide to Asheville, and our Weekend in Raleigh.
Photo by Shannon Ritchie