Midnight Hole

A national treasure, loaned to America by the grace of four small sycamore trees. Nobody sees Midnight Hole for the first time without exclaiming something. It’s deep and wide, even though there’s scarce surrounding rock structure here on Big Creek, no impound at the bottom and the fall is just a few feet high. Fortunately, the fall’s bedrock face overlies softer stone, and the differential erosion supplies the condition for a good swimming hole.

But it’s when Big Creeks bumps against a bank held together by those trees that it scours a swimming hole 70 feet wide and at least 10 feet deep throughout. The entire 25 square miles of Big Creek lies within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As a benefit, water has color and clarity that sets the standard for southeastern swimming holes.

But this is a loan. Before hurricanes in 2004, the trees were snugly fastened, if not dangerously close, to the shore. The deluge removed at least a ton of rock, raising the prospect that one more decennial storm might topple the trees and cause the hole to blowout substantially.

The hike is a flat 1.5 miles in the northern portion of the park. It’s popular, used by hikers and equestrians. No pets, though. Perfect trip for somebody new to the outdoors. Mellow trail; great destination.

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