This Hike in North Carolina Leads to a Hidden, Emerald-green Swimming Hole — Here's How to Find It

Is this paradise?

The small waterfall into the deep pool known as Midnight Hole in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a popular swimming hole along the Mouse Creek Falls trail.
Photo: Peter Stasiewicz/Getty Images

Feeling tired, stressed, and like you need to an escape from it all? We have the perfect hike for you. Take a walk through Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to a mini oasis that will help you leave your worries behind.

According to a 2019 study published in Scientific Reports, spending two hours in nature every week could benefit both your physical and mental health. And, as Travel + Leisure previously pointed to, in July 2018, Science Daily shared a report with similar findings. That study states, "exposure to greenspace reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure."

Midnight Hole in The Great Smoky Mountains
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All the more reason to pop on your sneakers and make your way to Midnight Swimming Hole, hiding in the Great Smoky Mountains. It's a short hike (1.5 miles each way) leading to a shimmering emerald pool beckoning you to take a dip.

According to Visit NC Smokies, the hike is "moderate," meaning you should be in fairly good physical condition to both get to the pool and make the 1.5-mile trek back. Visit NC Smokies also says, getting to Midnight Hole is rather easy, however, they did offer this important trail note: "At 1.5 miles begin looking for a small white circle painted on a tree to the right of the trail. This is the only mark that you are at Midnight Hole. Just look to your left and you will see a large green pool. Here the river is squeezed between two massive boulders to make a 6-foot waterfall with a deep pool beneath it."

And fair warning, the water is cold. As in, take-your-breath-away cold (and the low temperature persists, no matter the season), but it may just be the shock you need after a hike on a hot day.

Need more time in nature? You can keep hiking beyond the emerald pools and make your way to Mouse Creek Falls for another gorgeous view. And there are plenty of side trails to explore if you're hoping to make a day of it. So, go ahead, put away your worries and let Mother Nature take care of you for the day instead. Learn more about the trail here.

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