When the dog days of summer arrive, and you still want to spend the day outdoors, the best place to head is the water! We are lucky here and have many choices of places to go; here are our favorite swimming holes near Charlottesville, VA.
Take your pick — there is water with easy parking, beaches with lifeguards, and other watering holes hidden away at the hike’s end. Make sure you plan ahead and bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
Mint Springs Valley Park
Mint Springs Valley Park is a county park that is a 20-minute ride from the Inn. There is a natural spring water body where you can swim, fish, or enjoy sitting on the beach. The water can be reached without any hiking at all, but there are many options for hiking at varying levels of elevation and difficulty. There is a small beach to lay your towel on to dry off after the swim. There are also picnic tables, so take your lunch and enjoy the day.
A set of five cascading waterfalls make Crabtree Falls one of the tallest falls east of the Mississippi River. The trail is located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway and is a 3.5-mile loop rated moderate to strenuous. The payoff is in the waterfall views (one with a drop of over 1,000 feet) and cool wading area. The cool breeze and light spray coming off the falls makes it an enjoyable hike.
Blue Hole & Snake Hole near Sugar Hollow Reservoir
While you can’t go swimming in the reservoir itself, there are several great swimming holes north of the Sugar Hollow Trail (also known as Moorman’s River Trail) past the reservoir. Cross two streams (easy) from the parking lot and hike 0.8 miles to Snake Hole, a large crystal-clear swimming hole. Then hike further up the trail to Blue Hole; the trail is slightly steep, so cooling off in the water will feel great. The hike itself is flat and enjoyable, and you walk through shallow water before getting to the swimming hole. This is one of our favorite spots to cool down in the summer, as the swimming hole seems to be the perfect depth and temperature to really be refreshing. It is the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day after a great hike, enjoy the rope swing, jump off the rocks, or just bring a float and relax in the water.
There’s a great little shore to sit on and enjoy a small picnic. The hike is about a half hour from the Inn and well worth the short drive.
Walnut Creek Park
Walnut Creek is a 525-acre park, with 45 of those acres being water. The remaining area of the park has bike trails, disc golf, and beautiful woods for hiking. Rent a canoe or kayak, try a little fishing, or just relax on one of the two sandy beaches they offer!
Rafting and Tubing on the James River
Take a quick trip to Scottsville, and James River Reeling and Rafting will rent you tubes and shuttle you upstream so that you will drift gently on the James River back to your parking area. If you want a more challenging option, there are guided kayak or raft tours for all levels of experience.
Riprap Hollow is a beautiful portion of the Shenandoah National Park, popular for kayaking and the natural water slides. The total hike is 9.5 miles, with over 2000 feet in elevation, so this is not a stroll in the park. You are rewarded with amazing views, a 20-foot waterfall, and a nice swimming hole. Come prepared with water and lunch.
Chris Green Lake Park
Chris Greene Lake Park has over 53 water acres and 2 acres of beach. There are kayak and canoe rentals along with picnic facilities. There are public restrooms, fishing, and new, this year, a disc golf course.
Paul’s Creek Trail
Paul’s Creek Trail is a short distance from Wintergreen Resort. They maintain some of the trails, but don’t worry; they are still public. During high water season, the natural slides can be somewhat dangerous, but later in the season, this short (1.2-mile trail) rewards with a beautiful waterfall.
Spending a Summer’s Day in Charlottesville
Summer can bring some long, hot days. Luckily, you can visit our favorite swimming holes near Charlottesville, VA, and cool down (and maybe enjoy a hike at the same time). But there are many more fun activities, like visiting a rodeo, strolling through a museum, or a tour of the home of one of our founding fathers. On top of all these, Charlottesville is home to world-class cuisine. Plan your stay now; the summer slips away before you know it.