Summertime in the Greenbrier Valley means it’s time to pack a picnic (may we recommend pepperoni rolls?) and head out to a favorite swimming hole. That’s right, we said swimming hole not swimming pool. The Greenbrier Valley offers some of the best creek bends and natural deep pools for an afternoon of sunbathing and swimming in the wilds of West Virginia. Here are a few of our favorites.
BLUE BEND. If you’re not sure how remote you want to be for your first swimming hole excursion, best start with Blue Bend. This recreation area in the Monongahela National Forest is a popular destination for family picnics and group events. The spot offers the convenience of nearby parking, playgrounds, picnic areas and bathroom facilities.
The water at Blue Bend stays cool all season making it a much-loved summer day trip. A large shallow area is perfect for smaller children, and an adjacent rock masonry beach area provides flat, comfortable space for sunbathers.
As the creek makes its way around the bend, it becomes progressively deeper. More daring adventurists jump from nearby rocks into the deep pools at the far end of the swimming area. However, we recommend using great caution before jumping off any rocks – and never dive in! Blue Bend is part of a natural creek, and weather events such as heavy rains and drought greatly affect the depth and structure of the creek bottom.
How to get there: From White Sulphur Springs, travel 8 miles north on State Route 92. Turn left (west) at Alvon, onto State Route 16. Travel 4 miles to the recreation area.
GREENBRIER RIVER. For those who wish to combine a swimming trip with a bike ride or hike, head to the Greenbrier River Trail. From the Caldwell trailhead, a two-mile jaunt upriver on the rail-to-trail path leads to a large rock that juts from the river’s edge. You’ll likely spot the worn path down to the river and with a few hops you’ll be atop a natural outcrop.
Here you can dip your toes into the river or plunge in for a swim. You may encounter a few others who have the same idea. River grasses and other vegetation draw diverse birds including ducks, geese and blue heron. In recent years, bald eagles sightings have become more prevalent along the river.
The Greenbrier River is undammed and thus vulnerable to dramatic changes in water level. Heavy rains can deliver water from the mountaintops down to the river filling its banks. When the river is high, it may not be apparent that it’s flowing swiftly so take caution.
How to get there: From I-64E, take exit 175 to Route 60W. Travel 2.7 miles to Route 38 (Stone House Rd.). Turn right and follow the road about 2 miles to the trailhead parking on left.
ANTHONY CREEK. If we still have your interest, Anthony Creek delivers the most remote of the Greenbrier Valley swimming holes. The closest is reached by hiking a short three-quarter mile along a relatively flat, yet narrow, single-track trail. Where the trail forks, head right to find Blue Hole, a secluded spot with a small, packed dirt beach that overlooks a blue-green expanse of water. You’ll find a dip in this tranquil space uber refreshing and your surroundings lush and scenic.
If you’re game for more exploration, return to the fork in the trail and head to the left for another three-quarter mile. It’s worth noting, this part of the hike includes a creek ford. During the summer months, the water level is low, below the knee at the deepest spot. In spring, it may be much deeper and colder. We recommend wearing shoes to cross; the rocks can be quite slippery.
Continue following the trail, eventually passing through a low, narrow rhododendron tunnel. You’ve reached the portal that leads to Cat’s Eye. (Some people call this spot Hippy Hole, but the real hippies who taught us the way call it Cat’s Eye.) The beach is rocky and the creek is narrow but deep. Many like to swim to the opposite side and perch on the large rocks there.
How to get there: From Frankford, take Anthony Rd. Continue for approximately 5 miles. At the Anthony Boat Launch, cross the bridge and park on the right. This is the trailhead.
“ Looking for more things to do in the Greenbrier Valley? ”
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If the “foodie” experience is a priority, we suggest exploring the valley’s culinary scene.
Take an afternoon to browse the local boutiques, galleries and independent shops in downtown Lewisburg.