Even though you can spend an entire day of outdoor fun with Rafting in the Smokies, we’d like to share with you one of our favorite nearby hiking destinations in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park…Midnight Hole. It’s the quintessential Smoky Mountain swimming hole! The water is oh so cold…and so incredibly crystal-clear, that you can see dozens of trout swimming above the pebbled bottom. And if you’re brave enough to tread in the cold waters, the fish just swim around you, and you may even get a nibble or two! At Midnight Hole the waters of Big Creek flow between two huge boulders and drop approximately 6 to 10 feet (depending on rainfall) into an emerald green pool surrounded by a lush thicket of rhododendron. It’s a magically beautiful spot indeed!
Here’s how to get there from Rafting in the Smokies River Outpost:
Take I-40 east to exit 451 (Waterville Road). Cross the Pigeon River and follow the road upstream to the Carolina Power and Light Co. At the powerhouse, the road turns and proceeds 2 miles to an intersection with old NC 284 at the Mount Sterling community. Pass straight through the intersection to the Big Creek section of GSMNP. You’ll pass the Big Creek ranger station and reach the trailhead in approximately 3.4 miles at the Big Creek Picnic Area parking lot. It’s a 1.4 mile walk to Midnight Hole along an old railroad grade. Midnight Hole will be on your left. We’re sure you’ll see other folk as it’s a popular swimming hole…and you’ll probably see a few horses too.
Big Creek, the smallest of the campgrounds in the National Park, offers 12 tent-only, walk-in sites on a first-come, first-serve basis. A restroom and a cold water sink are located here. (Please leave this limited parking for the campers and park at the Picnic Area.) We hope you enjoy this little gem in our beautiful area. We can’t wait to share another special place with you in our next edition.