Leisure

The Hole Truth

Get Out of Dodge: Swimming Holes

So the steamy weather is set to break. In September.

Meanwhile, it’s time to take matters into your own sweaty hands. Now, we know you’ve cracked the code on an exclusive pool or two. But we’re thinking something colder. Like icy, mountain-fed streams and waterfalls. Behold: our rundown of the best swimming holes within road-trip distance.

Cunningham Falls State Park
66 MILES NORTHWEST OF THE CAPITOL

Cunningham Falls State Park

Here you’ll find a 43-acre lake, but your real destination is up a trail to a 78-foot waterfall that you can stand under, full-on cheesy-movie-style.
Seclusion Score:
5/10
Après-Swim:
The Tasting Room in downtown Frederick serves lobster chowder, local mozzarella and enough red wine to warm you back up again.

Belle Isle
109 MILES SOUTH OF THE CAPITOL

Belle Isle

You’ll get to this tiny island in the middle of the James River via footbridge, then hike, swim and boulder hop with the cityscape in the background. It’s what Johnny Reb did on days off.
Seclusion Score:
4/10
Après-Swim:
Six Burner, where the chef is an alum of Citronelle in DC. Tell him Michel sent you.

Belle Isle, Richmond, VA, click here for Google Maps coordinates; Six Burner, 1627 W Main St, Richmond, VA

Blue Hole
140 MILES WEST OF THE CAPITOL

Blue Hole

Leave your windows down as you cruise Skyline Drive, because you’ll want to be warm when you hit this icy swimming hole. There are plenty of rocks to jump off—nothing like a back-to-nature Triple Lindy.
Seclusion Score:
3/10
Après-Swim:
Apartment 2g in Front Royal, where you can watch on closed-circuit monitors as the chef preps your five courses.

Blue Hole, near Bergton, VA, click here for Google Maps coordinates; Apartment 2g, 206 S Royal Ave, Front Royal, VA

Riprap Hollow
142 MILES SOUTHWEST OF THE CAPITOL

Riprap Hollow

Warning: your hike includes a piece of the Appalachian Trail. But you’ll be rewarded with 50 feet of cool mountain water from a stream in Shenandoah National Park.
Seclusion Score:
7/10
Après-Swim:
Starr Hill Brewery’s tasting room outside Charlottesville, where you can try seven beers and get a growler to go. To replace the carbs you burned.

Crabtree Falls
166 MILES SOUTHWEST OF THE CAPITOL

Crabtree Falls

This is the big one. The water here spills down some 1,500 feet before settling in a (very cold) stream.
Seclusion Score:
9/10
Après-Swim:
You won’t have to go far. There are five secluded, multiroom cabins available to rent right near the river. We’re sure you’ll find something to do...

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