Skinny Dip Falls: top waterfall hikes off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, NC Blue Ridge Parkway

Skinny Dip Falls: Blue Ridge Parkway waterfall hike

Hike the Skinny Dip Falls Trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville to a set of beautiful, cascading waterfalls. It's a fantastic summertime hike, and family-friendly, too, at just under 1 mile.

trail info

.9 miles
(round trip)
easy
Dog-
friendly

LOCATION:on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Brevard, NC (maps & directions)

GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack w/ our favorite hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera

OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 780 Trails Illustrated Map

One mile east of the ultra-popular Graveyard Fields waterfalls is an equally popular stop on the on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Looking Glass Rock Overlook. On warm-weather weekends, the overlook at the Parkway’s mile post 417 is usually jam-packed with cars – but very few people.

Catch stunning views of Looking Glass Rock in early-morning fog on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, NCAbove: catch stunning views of Looking Glass Rock from the overlook near the Skinny Dip Falls trailhead.

So where is everyone, if they’re not enjoying the stunning view? The overlook offers beautiful, up-close views of the instantly memorable and uniquely shaped Looking Glass Rock mountain. But most of the overlook’s visitors are usually off hiking the short, relatively easy trail to the nearby Skinny Dip Falls, a gorgeous set of cascading waterfalls that ends in deep, crystal-clear pools.

Hike the Skinny Dip Falls Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway to a beautiful set of waterfalls

This kid-friendly hike follows a spur trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Mountains to Sea Trail, hiking just under a half mile to Skinny Dip Falls. It’s not a long hike, but a beautiful one, and well worth the relatively short trek: it’s one of the most popular Blue Ridge Parkway waterfall hikes near Asheville.

Skinny Dip Falls: the hike

The hike departs the Looking Glass Rock overlook, carefully crossing the Parkway (view maps and driving directions). The hike ducks into the forest on a trail beside the MP 417 mile marker – an otherwise unmarked entrance to one of the Parkway’s most popular trails south of Asheville. The hike passes a large, mangled tree before crossing a gravel road and turning left at a trail intersection, hiking the Mountains to Sea Trail to the southwest.

The hike trails through a lush, fern-filled forest, descending steadily to an ever-louder rushing river set in a shady valley. The trail’s surface is rocky and rooty – though given the short distance, it’s a relatively easy hike.

The trail nears Skinny Dip Falls, passing a large birch tree at .35 mile. (There’s a steep, heavily-worn trail just before the birch that trails to the north; follow this path, carefully, for views of the river’s rocky tumble just below Skinny Dip Falls.)

The Yellowstone Prong river tumbles in small waterfalls over a boulder-filled riverbed near Skinny Dip Falls in western NC

The trail rounds a corner, scoring its first views of Skinny Dip Falls at .4 mile. The trail descends a long, rather steep set of wooden stairs to the falls, catching cross-river views of the upper falls and pool, the lower falls, and the deep, crystal-clear pool below the trail’s bridge.

 

The hike carefully scrambles down the curved rock outcrop for access to the lower pool and the best views of the lower falls. The lower falls cascades over an angled rock outcrop, creating a series of parallel waterfalls that spill into the deep, clear pool below.

Hike to the Skinny Dip Falls waterterfall near Asheville, NC, where a crystal-clear stream cascades into a deep, rock-lined pool

The trail carefully crosses the simple wooden bridge (it’s high, and railed on only one side) for the best views of the upper falls. Gnarly-branched rhododendron frame the steep-walled sides of the waterfall, creating a lush, shady, cool spot to hang out trailside and enjoy the beautiful waterfall.

Hike to the Skinny Dip Falls waterfall off the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Looking Glass Rock overlook near Asheville, NC

If you’ve hiked the nearby Graveyard Fields waterfalls (one mile west on the Blue Ridge Parkway), the river’s colorful rocky landscape at Skinny Dip Falls probably looks familiar. The river is the same Yellowstone Prong that flows and cascades through Graveyard Fields just upstream. And the trail is a great connection to Graveyard Fields, too – from Skinny Dip Falls, the Mountains to Sea trail arcs northwest, connecting to the Graveyard Fields Loop near the second falls in just over 1.5 miles.

Departing the waterfall, the hike retraces its steps to the Blue Ridge Parkway, a nearly continuous (but rather short) uphill climb to the trailhead.

Note: slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous! Please don’t climb, stand on, swim near, or jump from any waterfall.

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Skinny Dip Falls Trail Map, Directions & Details

Skinny Dip Falls Trail Map
Skinny Dip Falls Trail Map
This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.

Driving Directions


Parking

Free parking is available at the Looking Glass Rock parking area at MP 417 on the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville. (Before you go, check for trail updates and parkway closures on the official Blue Ridge Parkway website.)

GPS Coordinates

35.322300, -82.828183     //     N35 19.338 W82 49.691

Elevation Profile

Skinny Dip Falls Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway: Elevation Profile
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Please Remember

Always leave no trace, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way, and follow these trail etiquette tips.

 
Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, online magazines that cover the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.
 
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