A conspiracy of stone and water. A wide curtain rolls into an epic pool that’s deeper than some marriages. Opposite the fall face there is (depending on water level) a slab smoothed into a long sunning lounge that’s gently sloped toward the fall face and a broad southern sky. Looking upstream, a tall headwall on the left terminates in a pulpit of rock that invites you to whisper a prayer before you leap 20 feet into the dark water of the Elk River. Spindrift pours off Twisting Fall to the left and over a rock buttress in a chill curtain that creates a tiny patch of lush grasses and flowers 15 feet above the level of the hole. It makes the footing wet as you work your way up to the jumping rock on the left, but the stone is surprisingly grippy.
If you’re bathing ambition is more subdued, water on the downstream side of the sunning slab fills a flat, quiet pool that reaches 50 feet across the riverbed and possesses a magnificent solid stone bottom which, when I visited, was absolutely clear of trash rock and cobble clutter.
It’s an unmaintained trail that’s very steep and loose. Lugged soles are a good idea. Heavy smokers or people more than 30 percent overweight should avoid this. At the bottom of the trail is a tree trunk with two decades worth of initials carved in it. Note its location, otherwise it can be difficult to find the trail back up. Too many people on a weekend, but still a classic swimming hole.