Swimming Hole Education and Safety
If you need a place to cool off in the summer heat but want a unique location that is a whole lot more fun than the local pool, swimming holes in creeks, rivers and lakes are just the place for you!
Many areas for swimming in the outdoors around Ohio can be driven right up to, though some are wilderness spots which require some hiking from your vehicle – these are the hidden gems with great waterfalls and nearly untouched pools of water.
Best times to go:
The dog days of summer are the best time to play around in swimming holes. There is a high likelihood of vehicle-accessed swimming holes being popular party spots, so a focus on safety and also care of our beautiful wild places is important.
Swimming Hole Education and Safety:
Swimming Hole Destinations (in a general four-hour radius from Columbus, in order from near to far):
ALUM CREEK RESERVOIR
The Alum Creek State Park reservoir is a large lake that has beaches for swimming and several small coves that are perfect to serve as a swimming hole on a hot summer day. Alum Creek State Park also offers boating, hiking, camping, and has dog parks.
Boating, camping, hiking, swimming
LAKE LOGAN STATE PARK
Lake Logan is a great place to go swim right after hiking in nearby Hocking Hills State Park. The large beaches offer lots of space to lay out in the sun and sit by the peaceful lake. Small coves around the edges make great swimming spots. Fishing is also excellent here year-round.
Boating, camping, hiking, swimming, fishing
CLEAR FORK RIVER
Found in Mohican State Park, this river feeds the popular swimming hole called Gatton Rock. The swimming hole is a great place to cool off after a hike in Mohican State Park and serves as a great destination on its own.
Camping, hiking, swimming, backpacking, canoeing
Located in Miami County and fed by the Stillwater River, Ludlow Falls stands 15 feet tall and is one of the best waterfalls in the area. The pool beneath the waterfall is a great spot for a swim. Two other waterfalls located nearby and worth a visit are Greenville Falls and West Milton Cascades.
CAESER’S CREEK STATE PARK
Caeser’s Creek Lake is a great spot to swim in the summer. Numerous small channels, islands, waterfalls, and creeks are all options to explore here. In the summer, boat traffic is heavy so the section by the Little Miami River is less crowded and quieter.
Boating, backpacking, camping, hiking, swimming
MINERAL SPRINGS LAKE
Mineral Springs Lake is fed by mineral water and covers more than 100 acres with five and a half miles of shoreline. Swimming is allowed and more than 421 campsites dot the perimeter of the lake. The lake is home to a species of rare, non-stinging freshwater jellyfish and dozens of other fish species.
Boating, camping, swimming, hiking, fishing
Dow Lake is in Strouds Run State Park and is a great spot for swimming and fishing. The lake encompasses 171 acres with a shoreline of 6.4 miles. Boating and swimming is peaceful here, and campsites and cabins are available by reservation.
Boating, camping, swimming
This swimming hole can be found just off Wynn Road in Pike County. The creek is quiet, travelled infrequently, and located in the beautiful Sunfish Creek State Forest. The forest is located right on the Ohio River Valley, and offers camping, swimming, fishing, and hiking.
Swimming, camping, hiking, fishing
Dundee Falls is in the Beach City Wildlife preserve near the town of Dundee. The waterfall forms a small pool underneath that makes a great swimming hole. The falls is almost 12 feet tall and the approach is suitable for most. Afterwards, you can spend the day observing wildlife or hiking in Beach City Wildlife preserve.
Tappan Lake is a 2,350-acre lake that offers plenty of room for swimming, fishing, and relaxing on the beach. Boating and hiking on the surrounding the trails are other popular activities here. One of the hiking trails connects to the Tappan Wetlands where there is an abundance of wildlife. Further down the trail, you will end up on the Ohio Buckeye Trail, a through hike around the entire state of Ohio.
Hiking, swimming, fishing, boating
PUNDERSON STATE PARK
The Punderson State Park lake is one of the few lakes in Ohio that shows evidence of the last glacier to pass through. The lake is a natural kettle lake and is the largest and deepest of its kind in Ohio. The lake is a perfect destination for swimming, paddling, and fishing. Camping and hiking is available along the shoreline.
Swimming, fishing, hiking, camping
There are five waterfalls located in Ohiopyle State Park, including Ohiopyle Falls and Cucumber Falls. There are natural slides located on Meadow Run which are great for a swimming hole. The park also offers camping, hiking, and whitewater rafting on parts of the Youghiogheny River and reservoir.
Swimming, camping, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, whitewater
ELK RIVER SWIMMING HOLES
The Elk River flows through part of the Monongahela National Forest. The river is quiet and not well trafficked, and there are many great swimming spots along CR 26/1. Whittaker Falls is the largest waterfall and has the biggest swimming hole.
Holly River State Park is West Virginia’s second largest state park and is surrounded by heavily forested mountains. Rolling hills form creeks and numerous waterfalls. The most notable waterfalls are on the Left Fork of the Holly River and the tributary at Fall Run. These are in the southern parts of the park near Potato Knob.
Camping, hiking, swimming
The large swimming hole at the base of Seneca Rocks provides a great place to swim and fish. The entries are shallow, so be careful jumping and always be sure to check depths. The rocks here are popular with climbers, and the swimming hole is a great spot to cool off after a long day of sends.
Camping, climbing, hiking, swimming, fishing