Swimming at Big Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Best  Swimming Hole Ever

Jumping in a creek in summer is one of the most refreshing experiences the Southern Appalachians have to offer. For swimming in summer, we love to have a nice dipping hole with places from which to jump.  One of our favorites is Big Creek.

This  is a pristine creek that rushes down the mountain in the GSMNP.  Our favorite spot on the creek is  Midnight Hole.  Just past this is Mouse Creek Falls which is also quite beautiful.   The hike up to this special spot is fairly short and easy.  It is about 1.5 miles and begins in the  parking lot of the Big Creek Campground  which is on the exit 451 on I-40 just over the border in Tennessee.

Directions

From our cabins there are a couple of ways you can travel to this magical place.  If you have a truck or 4 wheel drive you can go on the dirt roads up and over the mountain.  But, I do not suggest this route if you have a car without much clearance.  The road can get washed out and it can be pretty bumpy and challenging.  However, if you don’t mind going slow and taking your time, it’s a great way to see wildlife.  There is an elk herd along the way and they are pretty easy to spot.  We have also seen bear driving this way.  The other ways you can go are either through Waynesville for through Newport, Tenn.

To go the rugged way, take Roaring Fork and turn right on Meadowfork road.  Go about  1.5 miles and you will see a brown sign that says Max Patch.  Turn right onto Little Creek Road.  Go to where the pavement ends.  We advise you to turn right on Poplar Gap loop road as this is paved.  It’s very windy, so go slow.   When you come to a stop sight you will be back to Little Creek Road,  turn right.  Go until you come to a T intersection and turn left.  There are no signs on this road.  (Max Patch would be to the right).   After you turn left,  take the first right toward Harmon’s Den.   This road will take you to I-40.  Take  I-40 west to Exit 451 and go to the Big Creek Campground.   The trail head is across the road from the bath house.

Swimming Midnight Hole at Big Creek in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Can you see the heart?

Swimming Big Creek in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Here is a short video from swimming at Big Creek today.

Swimming can happen in many spots along the trail.

Elk herd at Harmon Den

Elk Herd

The elk hang out between the Harmon Den horse camp and the Harmon Den parking area.  There is a beaver pond they like to play in and some fields where they like to graze.   They are not hunted, so they are very calm and easy to observe.  But, they are very large, so do be careful and keep your distance.

 

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