SwimmingWith an abundance of both mountains and rivers, the state is a prime location for picturesque swimming holes that look like they belong on a postcard. From bustling state parks to more remote waterfalls and sparkling emerald waters, the Mountain State has so many natural swim spots to choose from that the only problem you’ll have is deciding where to go first.
With an abundance of both mountains and rivers, the state is a prime location for picturesque swimming holes that look like they belong on a postcard. From bustling state parks to more remote waterfalls and sparkling emerald waters, the Mountain State has so many natural swim spots to choose from that the only problem you’ll have is deciding where to go first.
You’ll usually hear about the hiking trails surrounding Glade Creek, but the swimming there is top notch, too. After a long day of hiking in the New River Gorge National Park, Glade Creek is right there, with a photo-worthy option for relaxing at the end of the day. The best part? Listening to the sound of waterfalls in the background. This place is hard to beat if you’re looking for solitude.
Audra State Park
Audra State Park has several excellent spots for a refreshing swim, but the best location, according to the locals, is underneath the bridge just below the rapid. There is also a main swimming hole if you’re looking for company— Audra is popular with local college students and campers working on their tans.
Shupe’s Chute is exactly what you would expect an east coast waterfall-and-swimming-hole combo to look like. These wooded, rocky cliffs give way to a turquoise-hued, deep swimming hole that you’ll never want to leave. If you find yourself wanting a break from swimming, you’ve got the entire 8,000-acre Holly River State Park to explore, with more than 42 miles of hiking trails, plus camping or cabins if you want to spend the night.
You don’t have to worry about any falls or rapids here. If you came in search of a swimming hole so still that you could swear it was made of actual glass, this is your spot. While Seneca Rocks is better known as a rock climbing destination, its location along the Seneca Creek tributary of the North Fork South Branch Potomac River makes it wonderful for swimming, too.
For a different kind of adrenaline rush, check out the local via ferrata, complete with a suspension bridge— as long as you’re not afraid of heights!
Wonder Falls is a 15-foot cascade into Big Sandy Creek below, and one of the most impressive waterfalls in West Virginia. It’s fairly remote and you’ll probably need an SUV or a truck (plus a short hike along the creekbed) to get there from the nearby town of Bruceton Mills, but it is well worth the trip and not all that hard to find. Once you’ve spent some time splashing around the pool, Wonder Falls has a shady beach at the bottom to spread out a towel and relax the day away.
How to start
Swimming in Almost Heaven can be a wonderful experience but do not forget that it comes with risks. Remember that the water is wild, and conditions are always changing. A safety tip is to bring someone with you. It is always more fun to swim with others. With a little bit of planning ahead and good decision-making, anyone can enjoy their time in the water.
What to bring
Your gear list is always going to vary on the weather, time of year, and Almost Heaven destination. If you are traveling with friends or a local guide, it is always best to consult them on specific gear needs. However, if you’re just looking for the basics, here’s a helpful list that outlines the gear almost every adventurer needs.
- A water bottle with extra water
- Extra change of clothes
- Sunglasses with retention strap
- A small waterproof bag
Without a doubt, the best time to swim is in the heat of the summer, but don’t count out those hot fall days as well. No matter when you decide to go, there is a swimming hole waiting to be discovered in West Virginia.
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