Midnight Hole NC – Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Midnight Hole NC is a deep and scenic pool below a 6 foot waterfall.  The pool and 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.  

What you need to Know About Midnight Hole NC


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 NC

Midnight Hole NC 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 NC

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

Come prepared!   Be sure to review our Day hiking Essentials before hitting the trail.

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.

Discover More Waterfalls!

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.  

About the author

Larry Deane is co-owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Life. He has spent more than 20 years exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and has a deep passion for nature, history, storytelling, and adventure. Along with his wife Jenn, they combined these passions to create Blue Ridge Mountain Life, a travel guide to these stunning mountains they are fortunate to call home.

Larry has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and journalist, and has established himself as a leading voice and expert for Blue Ridge Mountains. He is also an avid hiker, photographer, and videographer. He loves sharing his mountain adventures and knowledge with more than 500,000 people per month on Blue Ridge Mountain Life.


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