Looking for one of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s best kept secrets??? Look no further than Skinny Dip Falls……..is something we would have been saying not too long ago. Today, however, you’ll be lucky to find a spot to park on a warm afternoon. But there is good reason for the newfound attention the falls have received. The easy accessibility and natural beauty have made Skinny Dip Falls a must see attraction in the area. That and the giant rock you can jump off of into the icy cold water! Let’s find out what else Skinny Dip Falls has to offer!
Skinny Dip Falls is located at Milepost 417 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, at the Looking Glass Rock overlook. The trail is directly across the road, and is easy going…albeit a bit rocky in some spots. It’s a little over half a mile to the falls, and it’s one of my favorite short hikes in the area. Not because of the waterfall payoff at the end (which is pretty spectacular)…it’s because of the “dragon tree”!
Once you pass the “dragon tree” (which I could spend hours taking photos of), the trail begins to head downhill. Before long you’ll start to hear the waterfall, and eventually you’ll come to an overlook with this view of the upper sections….
Skinny Dip Falls is separated into three distinct sections, with a small swimming hole tucked in between the middle and lower sections. From the first overlook, you’ll descend some stairs and cross a bridge over the lower section, and from here you can explore the swimming hole and walk up to the upper section for a more intimate, up close viewing.
You’re probably wondering if Skinny Dip Falls is a family-friendly environment. I highly doubt you’ll see anyone demonstrating how the falls got its name, but I’m not going to make any promises. Most sunny, warm days you’ll find people swimming and playing in the water and laying on the rocks. If your plan is to photograph the waterfall without any people, good luck. The best chance for that would be early in the morning during the middle of the week…in winter. If you’re only looking for a fun hike with a chance to get wet, anytime during summer will work. If you’re more into flowers and blooms, the trail is littered with budding beauties all throughout spring, as the forest floor is covered with spring wildflowers, mountain laurel (especially near the trailhead), and rhododendron…some would even argue that during spring, the hike is the main event.
Even though Skinny Dip Falls gets a lot of action, it doesn’t ever feel overcrowded, as there are lots of little hidden areas to discover. The lush, shady environment is a great place to escape the heat. And it’s a great place to just hang out, have a picnic, and to cool off in the year-round freezing cold clear water.
Being just about 30 miles from Asheville, Skinny Dip Falls is a perfect family day trip. And being so close to other great attractions like Mount Pisgah, Graveyard Fields, and the Davidson River/Looking Glass area, it’s an easy stop to make. As always, be extremely cautious when walking around waterfalls. Wet rocks can assist in ruining anyone’s day. But most importantly, have fun exploring the trail and everything Skinny Dip Falls has to offer!