SUMMER IN THE SMOKY MOUNTAINS

Escape to the North Carolina Smokies for a fun filled summer in our wide-open spaces. Our events and outdoor experience are reeling with adventures and waiting for you! To make sure you have the safest experience during your visit, please remember when visiting hiking trails and other outdoor activities to maintain social distancing. If you see a busy parking lot, overlook or trailhead then move on to the next location or try again later. We’ve got plenty of scenic views to go around. A priority in our area is community health. In response to COVID-19 many businesses and attractions are open with modified operations, such as contactless service or lower capacity levels.

When the heat of summer is on, there’s no better way to beat it than by heading to the cool, refreshing Smoky Mountains of Haywood County, NC. There are endless reasons why Haywood is the best vacation spot to cool off in during the summer, so we’ll share a few of our faves.

For starters, Haywood County has 25 total mountain peaks soaring to elevations of over 6,000 feet, which makes it the county with the highest mean elevation east of the Rocky Mountains. And we all know the higher the elevation, the cooler it gets, so start climbing!

SMOKY MOUNTAIN SWIMMING HOLES

Kids splashing and having fun in Sunburst Swimming Hole in NC.

We’ve all tried to beat the heat in a neighborhood swimming pool, but trust us: you haven’t truly cooled off until you have taken a leap into a mountain-fed, natural swimming hole. Swimming holes are natural pools of water created by our local streams and rivers that are perfect for swimming. Haywood County is home to many awesome swimming spots that are fairly easy-to-access and even easier to enjoy

sunburst swimming hole

Sunburst Swimming Hole

Hwy 215 South from Canton

Just a few miles above Lake Logan on the Pigeon River, Sunburst is one of the easiest swimming holes to get to. Bonus: there’s plenty of parking. It’s the perfect spot to unload a cooler and grill thanks to the easy access. You’ll find an upper and lower swimming hole, plus plenty of rocks and beach areas to relax. Sunburst Campground is located across the road and offers a great picnic area.

Skinny Dip Falls

Milepost 417 on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The trail head is located across the road from the Looking Glass Overlook parking area. Don’t let the name fool you – clothing is strongly suggested at this popular swimming hole! Located high up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, this picturesque (and very cold) swimming hole offers several jumps and places to wade in more shallow waters. The beautiful setting alone is worth the short hike down to the hole.

Couple wading in an NC Smoky Mountain swimming hole

Graveyard Fields

Mile marker 418 on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Graveyard Fields makes for the perfect combination of hiking and swimming. This 3.2 mile hike offers multiple waterfall features and swimming areas to splash around in. This is a very popular hiking area, so make sure you plan for heavier crowds on hot summer days. Pets are welcome here, but make sure they’re on a leash.


A word of caution, as these swimming areas are often remotely located and do not offer the reassurance of a lifeguard on duty: please swim and jump at your own risk. We advise you to always do your research on the particular hole you plan to visit and test the waters before jumping – NEVER dive, as you may not be aware of how shallow the water is. But if you keep safety in mind, spending the day cooling off at one of these area swimming holes will be a blast!


 

Our Favorite Summer Outdoor Activities

Golfing

Not only does every golf course in Haywood County boast spectacular mountain views at every hole, but it’s often a lot cooler here than other parts of the southeast. Talk about a win-win situation! With five different golf courses to choose from, you can spend an entire week teeing up. It’s a paradise for any golfer!

Explore our golf courses here!

blue ridge parkway motorcycles

Motorcycling

Panoramic views. Mind-blowing curves. Miles of beautiful parkway. It’s no wonder that Haywood County is a haven for motorcyclists. No matter your skill level, you’re sure to find a ride you’ll love. Make sure to stop by Dale’s Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley to check out one of the world’s best collections of vintage motorcycles After your visit, try your handlebars at taming the Rattler.

Get a free motorcycle route map!

Water Sports

Do you crave the thrill of white-water rafting or the serenity of paddleboarding and kayaking? In Haywood County, you don’t have to choose. Spend the afternoon relaxing on Lake Junaluska or take a short day trip to a nearby outfitter. Don’t worry about bringing your own equipment: rentals are available for your convenience.

Discover more water adventures!

HIKING

Family hiking Black Balsam Knob in the sun
📍 Black Balsam Knob

No matter which one of our five mountain towns you stay in, it’s easy to get to some of the best hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With more than one-half million acres of park between North Carolina and Tennessee, you’ll never run out of beautiful vistas. Here, you can find some of the most popular hiking trails in all of the park, like Black BalsamDevil’s Courthouse, and the Art Loeb Trail

Don’t forget to download free maps of our favorite hiking trails!

Purchase Knob  • Blackrock MountainSam’s Summits

FISHING

Father and son fishing at Sunburst Swimming Hole
📍 Sunburst Swimming Hole

Tackle a trout in the Mountain Heritage Trout Waters. And by tackle, we mean with a tackle box! Purchase a 3-day, $10.00 fishing license to fish in the designated Mountain Heritage Trout Waters in Waynesville and Maggie Valley. This license can be purchased online at www.ncwildlife.org or by telephone Monday – Friday, 8am-5pm at 888-248-6834.

You can also find rainbow trout stocked in Ferguson’s Trout Pond behind Ferguson Supply & Cafe in Clyde, NC! This kid-friendly fishing spot is perfect for a day full of casting and reeling.

Did you forget your fishing pole and tackle box? Don’t fret! Stop by the Visitor Center at 1110 Soco Road in Maggie Valley. You can also borrow either a fly rod or a spinner rod. Just put down a deposit for $5.00, which you will get back when you return the poles and don’t forget to grab a Mountain Heritage Trout Waters Map while you’re here. And guess what? The tackle box is yours to keep, so get out there and hit the streams!

Summer Events

Check out our Calendar of Events page for an up-to-date listing of events.