Molly Moore | August 8, 2012 | No Comments
Welcome to the third installment of our exploration of some of the most beautiful, off-the-beaten-path places in the Central and Southern Appalachian Mountains. In this issue, we hand picked some water-related hot spots perfect for late summer days: hikes, waterfalls, swimming holes and everything in between — areas that are perfect for dipping your toes, or your whole self, into the water.
Off a dusty gravel road, Arnold Valley Pool is located near Devil’s Marbleyard in Natural Bridge, Va. This spring-fed swimming hole is perfect for the summer months, but be prepared for a shock when you hit the cold water. Massive boulders surround the pool on three sides, and a natural slide leads into the deepest part — almost 12 feet. Sometimes you can find a rope to swing on from one of the surrounding trees into the pool. However, be cautious if jumping — rocks lurk beneath the surface.
A nearby campground at Cave Mountain Lake in Jefferson National Forest provides overnight opportunities. Some describe Arnold Valley as nature’s amusement park, and one of its best features is that it’s kid and family-friendly. — AN
More Info: Located in Greenlee, Va. Visit: blueridgeoutdoors.com/outdoor-sports/hiking/swimmers’-guide-to-the-blue-ridge-parkway
The 2.8-mile Little Stony National Recreation Trail, located in the Jefferson National Forest, follows Little Stony Creek and passes by three waterfalls. A fairly easy hike, this trail is a good alternative to the more strenuous Devils Fork Loop nearby. Little Stony Falls, a 24-foot vertical waterfall cascading into a 10-foot pool below, offers many scenic views and is a whitewater kayaking destination for very advanced boaters. A bridge stretches across the top of the falls, allowing hikers to stand directly above the rushing water. The pool below is also a great spot to cool down in the late summer months. For hikers seeking a more challenging trip, the trail connects to the Chief Benge Scout Trail, an 18.7-mile trail that encompases seven different trailheads including High Knob, an iconic Appalachian lookout. — AN
More Info: Located near Dungannon, Va. Visit: waterfall-picture-guide.com/upper-little-stoney-falls.html
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