Monday, October 9, 2017

Skinny Dip Falls

Skinny Dip Falls is an ideal hike to incorporate into your Blue Ridge Parkway trip, regardless of the time of year. While a popular place to splash and cool down at the end of a hot summer’s day, the parking area can get full, and you’ll often be sharing the trail (and creek!) with dozens of other visitors that had the same idea. In the winter it is much less crowded, but you have to be careful of Parkway closures. Then, in the spring the rhododendron and mountain laurel will be blooming, and as temperatures warm the crowds slowly return. Or, you can choose to visit in the fall, a particularly appealing option if the leaves have begun to turn.

On our recent trip to Graveyard Fields we had a few additional hours of daylight and couldn’t drive by an almost-empty parking lot. Skinny Dip Falls shares parking with the Looking Glass Rock overlook at mile marker 417 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The first patches of color are just appearing, so the fall foliage season hadn’t really kicked off, and the chill in the air kept most swimmers in warmer waters.

Head to the north end of the parking lot and carefully cross the Parkway. The unmarked trailhead is easily found by locating mile marker 417, and you’ll know you are in the right place when you come to the dragon tree.

Climb the steps and turn left on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, and after a quick up-and-down you’ll hear the Yellowstone Prong off to your right. The trail follows the river to the base of the falls where a bridge will take you across and to the upper sections of the waterfall. If you were to keep heading upriver you would come to Second Falls and Upper Falls in Graveyard Fields, while a short ways downriver it joins with Greasy Cove Prong to form East Fork Pigeon River.

In addition to a deeper pool there are multiple other choices for wading and splashing, but be warned that the mountain water is cold almost any time of year and there are no lifeguards on duty. The rocks can be slippery when wet, and you still have a ½ mile hike to get back to your car! We started the trek back to the car over the objections of our blue-lipped swimmers, and soon were back at the overlook enjoying a snack and one last look over what is still a rather green vista surrounding Looking Glass Rock.


Skinny Dip Falls is about 1.5 hours from Greenville, a little bit longer if you take the more scenic 276 back south. This route will take you past Sliding Rock and Looking Glass Falls before you reach Brevard, and crosses back over into South Carolina at Caesars Head State Park – the perfect spot to watch a sunset. Or you can head into nearby Asheville or Hendersonville for dinner... there isn’t really a wrong choice! 

1 comment:

  1. We may check out some of these areas since it has been awhile since we've been there --on our upcoming trip to Pisgah Inn on the Parkway.... BUT--the weather doesn't look promising... SO--who knows what we'll do.... Thanks for a great post.

    Check out my blog post today from the Antelope Slot Canyon in Page, Arizona... I know that your family would love to tour this canyon....



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