7 Best Swimming Holes Near Pittsburgh
These hidden gems are the perfect way to spend a hot, lazy summer day
Summer’s almost here! What better way to cool off in the dog days of summer than to find a secluded swimming hole to play around Pittsburgh? Swimming holes in our area can be a bit secret, but this guide will help you find the best places to dip your toes into the water!
Jackson Falls Apollo, PA
Roaring Run Recreational Area, Apollo, PA
Jackson Falls is a series of three scenic falls located near Apollo Pennsylvania on Rattling Run. The waterfalls flow into what some use as a swimming hole. The falls are rather large for Western Pennsylvania and the swimming area at the bottom is around five feet deep. The entire area is very wooded and full of wildlife. Overall, this little gem may be one of the most enchanting swimming hole experiences in the state!
The falls are located near, but not on, the Rock Furnace Trail, in the Roaring Run Recreational Area. The main trail is paved and passes very close to the lower falls, but the falls is not visible from the main trail. Just before the main trail crosses a small bridge, a side trail on the right will take you to the lower falls. From the lower falls, a rough trail continues upstream. At times it is just a creek walk. This ends at the base of the middle falls. There is a small upper falls beyond that. To reach it, you will have to backtrack to a point where the gorge walls are no longer an obstacle, and continue upstream on higher ground.
The Rock Furnace Trail is a 3.2-mile out-and-back trail. It is considered a moderately challenging route, which takes an average of 1 h 16 min to complete. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.
Roaring Run Falls Apollo, PA
Meadow Run Natural Rock Water Slides
PA-381, Ohiopyle, PA
You’ve never really experienced a waterslide until you’ve conquered the Meadow Run Natural Waterslide in Ohiopyle State Park. A floor of sandstone rock provides the base from which to enjoy and marvel at Meadow Run's perfectly chiseled channels through the rock forming a fast moving and curving natural waterslide that ends in a deep pool of water. Depending on how high the water is that day, you can ride 100 feet or more across the natural rock face. The length and speed of the slide depends on the water levels. Too high and you won’t want to go down it, especially with smaller kids. Summer levels are usually just right for lots of fun for most ages. At the end of the slides, there’s deeper and calmer water to swim and jump off rocks into. All in all, one can easily spend an entire day playing in the waters at Ohiopyle.
A staircase provides easy access to visitors of all ages and the rock floor doubles as the Meadow Run Trail leading to more scenery either upstream or downstream toward Meadow Run's confluence with the Youghiogheny River. Meadow Run Natural Rock Slides are adjacent to a parking area off of Route 381.
Meadow Run Natural Waterslides Ohiopyle, PA
Blue Hole in Jacob’s Creek
Jacob’s Creek Perryopolis, PA
Blue Hole, part of Jacob’s Creek in Perryopolis, features a small waterfall and a HUGE jump into the deep swimming hole. And it’s pretty much a rite of passage for locals. Clamber up the rocks again and again to vault off of the natural diving platform. While it’s a popular spot with swimmers, authorities have warned against going here due to its dangerous conditions. If you go, take extreme care. It is so named because of the blue-ish color of the water. Bring a mask so you can look around underwater as the water is crystal clear. This stream is spring-fed and quite chilly-- but great on a hot summer day! There is an informational kiosk at the entry site.
To get to the Blue Hole, park in the gravel area under the train bridge near the entrance to the gun club. Then, walk the train tracks until you hear the falls - and you’ll see trails to your left when you hear them. There will be trails to your left that will lead down the steep embankment to the swimming hole.
NOTE: Please see Ronald's blog comment below this article. Be very careful. The tracks are an active train track! For safety, "go down the hil, cross the creek, and go up the other side. To be safe, do NOT walk across the 1st trestle."
The Blue Hole is in Forbes State Forest which comprises 15 tracts totaling almost 59,000 acres in Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland Counties. Forbes spreads across the high ridges of the Laurel Highlands, including the 3,213-ft. Mt. Davis, the highest point in Pennsylvania. The Blue Hole is located just a few minutes west of Cole Run Falls, so if you stop at one, make sure to see the other! Cole Run Falls is probably the most popular waterfall in the Forbes State Forest. There are also additional waterfalls downstream from Cole Run Falls as well.
Blue Hole Perryopolis, PA
Southwestern Pennsylvania has two swimming holes called Blue Hole – the swimming hole at Jacob’s Creek in Perryopolis and the other in Dubar. Blue Hole in Dunbar promises the perfect spot for swimming on a hot summer day. Adventurers can climb the rocks and jump into the water. While the water is not particularly blue, it is one of the best swimming holes for miles around. Here, your crew can lounge around the pool, bob up and down in the water, or recline on the natural waterfall that feeds it.
The Blue Hole is located on Camp Carmel Rd Dunbar Twp. The falls and swimming hole are located on Morgan Run, a cold, clean mountain stream located partly in State Game Lands 51. The area of Blue Hole Falls is surrounded by a ravine on three sides, which further adds to a feeling of remoteness. To visit, locate the dirt pulloff on the left of Camp Carmel Rd. This is where people park to go to the falls. Follow the dirt path down over the hillside about half a mile to dip your toes in.
Blue Hole Dunbar, PA
New Castle, PA
This area is the lesser known and more secluded neighbor of McConnell’s Mill State Park. You can find this quaint swimming home via the ABC Frew Mill Trail, which follows the creek. Less than a mile back the trail you’ll encounter a little beach area, with a rock island in the middle of the creek, that is perfect for swimming! The ABC Trail, itself, is chock-full of massive boulders and narrow slot canyons to explore. Once you grow hot and sweaty from adventuring in the forest, you can easily take a dip in the refreshing waters. The waters, here, are typically swift moving and, thus, rather clean and pristine! The plethora of giant boulders scattered about create calm and deeper pools. These boulders also make great sunbathing and resting locations to soak in the summery scenes!
Please note that there are no signs for parking or for the trail. Immediately after crossing the bridge over Frew Falls, pull off alongside the road (you’ll see a small gravel area along the guard rail near the woods). Once parked, hop the guard rail and walk the ABC Frew Mill Trail.
Kennedy’s Mill New Castle, PA
Cedar Creek Park
Belle Vernon, PA
This swimming hole is perfect for someone looking to explore nature. The creek is teeming with critters – we spotted frogs, toads, crayfish and even a tiny snake! The swimming hole gets a bit deep, reaching approximately 6 feet at its deepest. The majority of it remains at a comfortable 4ft depth. This swimming hole is located within Cedar Creek Park. This park is the premiere access point to the Youghiogheny River for Westmoreland County residents. Cedar Creek Park offers 20 outdoor pavilions, an indoor Activity Center, several sport fields, model radio-controlled airfield, and access to the Great Allegheny Passage regional trail system.
Enter the park via the main park entrance and drive down the road to the Youghiogheny River, following the signs for “Cedar Creek Gorge“. Once you reach the end of the road, there will be a decently-sized parking lot to park in along the Yough. River. You can hop on over to the rocky ‘beach’ area and take a swim in the river (or bring a raft to float in). Or, you can cross the parking lot to the Cedar Creek Gorge Trail. Very soon into your hike, you’ll cross a suspension bridge. Continuing along the trail, you’ll cross a second bridge over the creek and not long after this will you arrive to the swimming hole. When in doubt, follow the creek from the mouth of the Youghiogheny River (at the parking lot) until you arrive at the swimming hole – you can’t miss it!
Cedar Creek Park Belle Vernon, PA
Slippery Rock, PA
Rock Falls is the wading pool of swimming holes. This Slippery Rock favorite…is basically a bunch of slippery rocks. A low waterfall cascades water over smooth rock structures – perfect for sunning yourself or sliding down into the shallow pool. Plus, there’s a pond for swimming and fishing a short walk away.
Rock Falls Slippery Rock, PA