There is absolutely nothing better than heading out to a secluded pond, stream, or lake for a swim to beat the summertime heat and humidity, and Alabama has plenty of off-the-beaten-path places for you to do just that.
Here, in no particular order, are nine of our favorite swimming holes in Alabama.
1. Kinlock Falls, Bankhead National Forest
A stunning 25-foot-wide, 15-foot-tall cascading waterfall known as Kinlock Falls is the backdrop for this swimming hole. The water of the falls churns white as it rushes down into a clear, cold pool that’s the perfect spot for summertime fun.
Kinlock is a roadside waterfall located in the Bankhead National Forest just off the north side of Kinlock Road. There is a .3-mile trek down an unblazed rock-and-gravel trail that begins with a short walk down a set of cement stairs. From there, you’ll need to pick your way down to the base of the falls, but use caution. It is slippery.
You can access the swimming hole from sunrise to sunset.
2. Hurricane Creek Park, Falkville
At Hurricane Creek Park in Falkville, a series of trails dotted with seasonal waterfalls leads to an amazing gorge cut by the rushing waters of Hurricane Creek. At the bottom is a refreshing, deep pool formed by an old dam that blocks the creek.
The swimming hole has picnic tables, and most any day of the week, you will be treated to the sight of rock climbers scaling the walls of the gorge.
The parking area is located on U.S. 31 in Falkville. You’ll see an old building that was once a tourist attraction featuring a cog railway to the bottom of the gorge. Walk around the building, and you’ll find the trail to the swimming hole. Proceed for .2 miles, and you’ll come to a set of wooden stairs following a seasonal waterfall straight down to the swimming hole. It’s a steady climb down (and back up), but the switchbacks and stairs make it easier.
The park is open from sunrise to sunset.
3. Hippie Hole, Fort Payne
Along the course of Little River — which forms the deepest canyon east of the Mississippi, Little River Canyon — you will find the Hippie Hole. This inviting gem of a swimming spot has been a local favorite for years, and it’s easy to see why.
The Hippie Hole is a deep pool at the base of Little Falls (also known as Martha Falls), a short block waterfall that stretches across the river. The water is deep, cool, and surrounded by rocky banks that make the perfect spot to break out your towel and catch some sun after frolicking in the water.
Don’t attempt to swim here if the water levels are high.
There used to be a parking area nearby to access the falls, but it has been closed, so you will have to do a little hiking to get here — a 1.5-mile out-and-back hike along the rim of Little River Canyon. The hike begins at Little River Canyon Falls Park just off the boardwalk. The last few yards to the swimming hole are down a set of steep stone stairs.
The park is open from sunrise to sunset.
4. Eberhart Point, Cedar Bluff
Another hidden gem at Little River Canyon National Preserve can be found at Eberhart Point. The reason it’s hidden is because many people don’t want to make the trek down to the river to get there — it’s a steep half-mile walk down into the canyon, but the hike is well worth the effort. The rocky river is cold and inviting, and the surrounding scenery is spectacular. Just remember to leave plenty of time to climb back up out of the canyon when you’re done, and don’t forget to bring everything you need for your visit (and carry it back out). Also, cell-phone service in the area is sketchy at best, if it exists at all.
Do not attempt to swim in the river if the water levels are high.
Eberhart can be accessed from sunrise to sunset at the trailhead on AL-176 (Little River Canyon Rim Parkway) at the Little River Canyon Preserve’s Eberhart Point Picnic Area.
5. Mardis Mill Falls, Blountsville
Easy roadside access makes Mardis Mill, located on Mardis Mill Road in Blountsville, one popular swimming hole. It is only a short walk to the block waterfall that churns white into the deep, dark pool. There is even a rope swing for some good old-fashioned fun.
The parking area is narrow and fits about six cars comfortably. If it’s crowded, be courteous and pull well off the side of the road. And be sure to take out what you bring in with you. The Friends of the Locust Fork River do an excellent job maintaining the swimming hole and falls, and they need your help to keep them beautiful.
You can visit any day of the week between sunrise and sunset.
6. Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, Pinson
There are plenty of swimming opportunities at the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve in Pinson, including tubing over the short Turkey Creek Falls (you’ll need to bring your own tube) and in the deep Blue Hole.
The town has made the preserve a perfect summertime swimming destination with ample parking, restrooms, and changing rooms, so you won’t have to jump back into your car in wet clothes.
See this page for Turkey Creek Nature Preserve’s hours.
7. Devil’s Den, Lineville
A crystal-clear mountain stream surges through the Talladega National Forest, providing plenty of summertime swimming memories. The stream is Chinnabee Creek, a turbulent stream where you will find an area known as Devil’s Den — a jumble of rocks where the water cascades and froths white, forming a deep pool at the bottom that’s perfect for swimming.
There is a short (less than a half mile) hike from the Lake Chinnabee Recreation Area to Devil’s Den. The hike is an easy, level walk. Just watch your footing on the rock- and root-studded trail. You’ll pay a $3 day-use parking fee at the recreation area, where you will also find restrooms.
Keep in mind that Chinnabee Creek is prone to flash flooding, so if the creek is up or there is a threat of rain, consider visiting on another day. The recreation area is open from sunrise to sunset March through October.
8. Blue Lake Recreation Area, Andalusia
The aptly named Blue Lake is a quiet and serene summer destination within the Conecuh National Forest. Its lightly rippling water reflects the perfectly blue, cloudless Southern sky, and its white sandy shoreline allows easy access to some fine summertime swimming.
The recreation area is located on Blue Lake Camp Road just off of AL-137 in Andalusia and is equipped with picnic tables and restrooms. It’s open from April through October from sunrise to sunset. There is a $3 day-use fee to access the recreation area.
9. Blue Springs, Clio
Ever been swimming in a crystal-clear spring? It’s exhilarating! The best spring in Alabama is located at Blue Springs State Park, where the icy-cold blue water is the perfect respite from a hot summer day.
Located on Alabama Highway 10 in the town of Clio, Blue Springs State Park is home to a natural spring that pumps 3,600 gallons of water per minute into two swimming holes. The water temperature is a constant 68 degrees year-round. The water is so clear that you can see the sandy bottom far below.
A cement retaining wall has been constructed around the ponds to protect the spring and give you access to great swimming.
Check the park’s website for hours and day-use fees.
Pro Tip: It goes without saying, but safety should always be a priority when visiting these locations. Check water levels before visiting a swimming hole, and don’t swim if the water is high. Remember, there are no lifeguards at these locations, so swim at your own risk. And please, take out your trash when you leave.