Hike to a West Virginia Swimming Hole

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It’s August. It’s hot. It’s time to go swimming. Yes, a swimming pool is ok if that’s all you can get to, but who wants to put up with all that chlorine and crowds of screaming kids? I say head to the hills and a good ol’ swimmin’ hole. Being from West Virginia, I’m going to use this posting to let you in on some of my favorites in the Mountain State.

Pretty much known only to locals, “Alec’s Hole” is in Knapp Creek. Drive eastward from Huntersville on WV39 for approximately one mile. A short distance after the road crosses a bridge over the creek, there will be a dirt parking area along the right shoulder. A classic mountain stream, Knapp Creek has deep pools to swim in, riffles to lay in and feel like you’re in a whirlpool, and good-sized rocks to laze about on.

If you’re in the Seneca Rocks area to do some climbing or hiking, take the hiking trail from the visitor center to the bridge over the North Fork of the Potomac River. A deep pool has a gravel beach on one side and rocks on the other side that could be used for sunbathing.

There are two good swimmin’ holes in the waters of the upper Elk River. At the intersection of US219/WV55 with WV15 at Valley Head, follow WV15 westward for 4 miles and turn left onto Valley Fork Rd. A little more than 5 miles later, there will be a pulloff. Walk down to the river to what the locals call “Elk Hole,” a deep spot surrounded by flat rocks. If you want another good place to splash about, continue an additional 7 miles on Valley Fork Rd. to Whittaker Falls, where you can swim behind the falls and slide down a rock chute.

In my next post, I’ll share data about two distinctly different swimmin’ holes—one suitable for families, the other with a definite party atmosphere.


There’s still time to sign up for the Appalachian Trail Weekend I will be directing at Mountain Lake in Virginia on October 1-3. The program’s schedule includes two good day hikes and presentations about thru-hiking, lightening your pack, and wildflowers; participants stay at and enjoy meals served in the resort—where Dirty Dancing was filmed! More information at www.mtnlakeconservancy.org.

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