Top 7 hidden gem Virginia waterfalls you can swim in

Top 7 hidden gem Virginia waterfalls you can swim in

Photo by Briona Baker on Unsplash

By Amie Knowles

June 12, 2024

Discover the hidden gems of the state’s natural beauty as you explore trails leading to waterfalls where you can take a well-deserved dip. 

Remember to wear appropriate shoes—both for the hike and for any slick rocks at the base of the falls! Now it’s time to grab a friend and make some summer memories you won’t soon forget. 

Dismal Falls

Location: 395 Dismal Creek Rd, Pearisburg

Don’t let the name fool you—the Dismal Falls are anything but gloomy and depressing. At just 0.1 miles long, the wooded trail leading to the waterfall is an easy hike for beginners. The path leads to a 15-foot natural feature with water cascading into a shallow pool, usually ranging from three to four feet of depth depending on recent rainfall. 

Whiteoak Canyon

Location: 4400 Weakley Hollow Rd, Syria

If you’re seeking a trail with multiple waterfall sightings, Whiteoak Canyon, located within Shenandoah National Park, could be the right choice for you. There are six waterfalls in the area, and each has its own swimming hole. 

The Virginia Tourism Corporation notes on its website that parts of the hike are strenuous—be sure to do your research and consider which trail is the right one for you. 

Roaring Run

Location: 450 Roaring Run Rd (State Road 621), Eagle Rock

A stream along the Roaring Run Falls and Furnace Trail leads right to a beautiful waterfall. But that’s not the only feature visitors to Roaring Run Recreation Area will come across. There are also picturesque rock bridges and a 19th century iron furnace, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The 1.5-mile trail loops around and has little elevation gain, making it a good hike for families. 

Little Stony Falls

Location: 427 FS Hanging Rock, Dungannon

Do you have a train enthusiast in your group? If so, venturing to the Little Stony National Recreation Trail might be just up their alley. The path follows the same route as a former narrow gauge railroad bed used for logging. 

The scenery is breathtaking—the trail leading to the falls runs through a 400-ft deep and 1700-ft wide gorge. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources classifies the trek as a “moderate” level hike, noting that there are large boulders and rocks to climb over or go around.

Nottoway Falls

Location: 5036 Falls Rd, Victoria

If you’re a fan of rock formations, you’ll love Nottoway Falls. The water glides over large boulders in the Nottoway River, which’ve smoothed over time. The erosion makes for fun rock sliding adventures, as long as there hasn’t been heavy rainfall recently. 

Along the river, visitors will also find a 1920s dam built by the Virginian Railway.

Big Falls

Location: 891 State Park Rd, Honaker

While you might not be shocked by the height of these falls, the width is truly impressive. Big Falls, located within the Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve, spans the entire width of Big Cedar Creek, marking its path from bank to bank. 

Be sure to catch a glimpse of “The Pinnacle” itself—a nearly 400-foot-tall outcrop of dolomite. 

Cascade Falls

Location: 2068 Cascades Dr, Pembroke

One of the most incredible waterfalls in Virginia plummets from a height of 66-feet within the Jefferson National Forest—and yes, you can swim in the waters beneath. The hike to Cascade Falls makes for beautiful pictures across bridges, against rock faces, and of course, by the water. 

Related Reading: Are swimming holes a thing in Virginia? Yes, and here are 10 worth the journey

  • Amie Knowles

    Amie is Dogwood's community editor. She has been in journalism for several years, winning multiple awards from the Virginia Press Association for news and features content. A lifelong Virginia resident, her work has appeared in the Martinsville Bulletin, Danville Register & Bee and NWNC Magazine.

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