Midnight Hole

Midnight Hole – Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Midnight Hole is a deep and scenic pool below a 6 foot waterfall.  The pool the falls are part of the Big Creek section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Midnight hole is a popular swimming destination for adults, teens and families.  

Hike Details


Big Creek Area, Great Smoky Mountains  National Park

Roundtrip Distance: 2.8 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Handicap Accessible: No

Dog Friendly: No - Dogs are not allowed

Features: Swimming, jumping, creekside hiking


Take I-40 to the Waterville Road Exit (#451). Turn left after crossing the Pigeon River and proceed 2.3 miles to an intersection. Continue straight through, pass the ranger station, and you'll arrive at a large parking area at the road's end. Just before you enter the parking lot, you'll see the Big Creek trail head to your right.

Recommended Gear:

Standard Day hiking gear, bathing suit, water shoes, and towels

Midnight Hole

Midnight hole is probably one of the most scenic and beautiful natural swimming holes in the Blue Ridge Mountains and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The water is crystal clear, and the waterfall surrounded by huge boulders, makes for a natural place to swim, jump, and cool off in the hot summer.   Jumping from the rocks into the pool is a very popular activity for the younger crowd.

Midnight hole is often very busy, especially between 10am and 4-5pm.   The water and rocks are full of families, teens and adults.   It isn't uncommon for there 50-100 people there on a summer weekend day. 

The water is pretty cold, but very crisp and refreshing, especially after the 1.4 mile hike in.  

Hiking to Midnight Hole

Midnight hole is in the Big Creek area of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, on Big Creek Trail.  The trailhead begins on the road, just before the parking area, on the right.  You'll pass the trailhead on your way to park.

Hiking to Midnight Hole

Big Creek is often very busy during the summer, and if the main parking area is full, you can drive back down the entry road, and park in the horse camp parking area.  Just be sure to not block in any of the horse trailers.

There is a trail from the bathroom area to the trailhead.  There are also bathrooms at the main parking area.

Big Creek trail up to Midnight hole is an old railroad grade, and not steep, but it is a gradual climb all the way up to Midnight hole, at 1.4 mile in.   Along the way you'll hike creekside to Big Creek, which is gorgeous.

Fall at Midnight Hole

You can't miss Midnight hole, as you'll either hear the people swimming, yelling and having fun.  

The trail is also heavily travelled up to Midnight hole.  You'll likely encounter lots of people and families walking on the trail, either going to or coming back from the falls.  

You'll know you're close to Midnight Hole when you cross the wooden bridge.   To get to the falls/swimming area, just walk down the narrow path to the left.  The trail is a bit rocky, so young children will probably need some help.

Our Waterfall Guides

See our full guides to more than 40 waterfalls in the Blue Ridge Mountains, on our Waterfalls Page.  Information, Directions, Photos, Video, and more!

Midnight Hole Videos

Things to do at Big Creek and Midnight Hole

Next to the parking lot is a really nice picnic area next to Big Creek.  This is a great place for families with younger children, as the water is a great depth for wading and splashing.  

Midnight hole has more shallow areas as well, but not many.  Most of the water areas in Midnight Hole are a 1 -2 feet, minimum and the current is fairly strong, so small children should be watched closely.   

Big Creek Trail is an old railroad grade that was used to haul timber and lumber during the logging boom, prior to the area becoming a national park.  Horses are allowed on the trail, and while we haven't seen any the times we've been there, I would recommend watching where you step, just in case!

Mouse Creek Falls

Mouse Creek Falls

If you hike up the trail another 1/2 mile, you'll come to Mouse Creek Falls.  The falls are 41 foot high, and just beautiful to see and take pictures of.  

Midnight Hole Photo Gallery

Leave a Comment:

KELLY Douglas says May 14, 2019

Is it wheelchair accessible

leslie says June 15, 2019

Are dogs allowed on the trails?

    Larry says June 15, 2019

    No, dogs are not allowed on trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Lisa Waldrop says June 24, 2019

Where is the dirt road you are referring to driving in? Is it the 2.3 mile road leading to the parking lot? Is it very narrow with drop offs or does it have plenty of space to pass someone?

    Larry says June 25, 2019

    No, the 2.3 mile section is Waterville Rd that goes by the Waterville Dam. The gravel Big Creek Entrance road begins at the intersection of Mount Sterling Rd, and Waterville Road. It is very narrow in some places, but has pull off areas that allow cars to pass each other.

Robert C Sapp says July 5, 2019

Where can a church bus park to go to this location

    Larry says July 9, 2019

    Hi Robert, there is a horse trailer parking lot on the left before you get to the main lot – Church buses could park there, however, the entry road is pretty narrow – Just a heads up.

Matt says August 3, 2019

What is physical address for GPS or directions from Gatlinburg, TN?

    Larry says August 28, 2019

    Hi Matt, if you just goto http://maps.google.com and enter Big Creek NC, it will take you right there.

Bryan Norris says October 17, 2019

How deep is the water (where you jump in) at Midnight Hole Falls?

    Larry says October 17, 2019

    Not sure exactly, but pretty deep near the waterfall, maybe 15 foot? Here is a video we did, with some underwater footage, so you can see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c3mxcy5ksg

Tonya Bobbitt says January 29, 2020

It’s so beautiful I need to go there I’m from Florida.I moved to Hillsville, Virginia about a year and a half ago…That looks fun and very beautiful I wanna go see it wow

    Larry says January 30, 2020

    It’s a beautiful place, especially early in the morning, before all of the people arrive. There are also a number of small falls along the creek above and below Midnight hole that are also very pretty, and generally don’t have any people.

Patricia Coley says February 17, 2020

What is the least busy day during the summer?

Clara Morgan says February 20, 2020

Is there camping and how much

Kavitha says March 2, 2020

What is the GPS address and How can I reach here from Virginia.

Ada says May 12, 2020

What are the hours?

Kaitlyn Little says July 11, 2020

Around how big is the rock on the left side that you can jump from?

    Larry says July 14, 2020

    Hi Kaitlyn, just guessing, but it’s probably around 10-12 foot tall. The water below is very deep.

Julia Miranda says July 13, 2020

I have a question. Is there grill or space for a picnic here? and is there a limit on people with covid-19?

    Larry says July 14, 2020

    There is a picnic area just off the main parking area, with grills. There are bathrooms nearby, and the picnic tables/grills are creekside. There are no limits in outdoor spaces.

Nick says July 19, 2020

Can you fish here?

    Larry says July 20, 2020

    Yes you can, with either a NC or TN fishing license. You’ll also want the trout option.

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