Best Swimming Holes Near Pittsburgh

best swimming holes near pittsburgh

In the midst of a hot Pittsburgh summer, what better way to cool off and enjoy the outdoors than by dipping into some of the best swimming holes nearby? With the added obstacle of the current pandemic, many swimming options that were once appealing and enjoyable are now off limits. Thus, I went on a mission to discover some of the most viable alternatives for some refreshing fun in the sun!

ᗪEᔕTIᑎᗩTIOᑎ ᒪIᔕT:

  • Kennedy’s Mill
  • Jackson Falls
  • Cedar Creek Park
  • Quakertown Falls
  • Meadow Run Natural Rock Waterslides
  • Creek Falls (“Blue Hole”)

🐾 = places I KNOW are dog friendly (the others I’d suggest doing more research on).

<strong>Author:</strong> Mindy Michaels, <a rel=
Author: Mindy Michaels, mindyonthemove.com

Main Photographer: Doug Michaels

My name is Mindy Rose Michaels and I am an avid adventurer and traveler.  I “work to travel” (as I like to say) and thus, live a very unconventional life. My husband, Doug, and I are freelancers in the film industry and work on various reality/doc tv shows for a multitude of networks, such as: Travel Channel, Animal Planet, NBC, Discovery, A&E, Starz, HGTV etc.  Our work keeps us constantly moving and constantly on our toes AND, when we’re not working, you best believe we’re still on the move. Always. Because we love to travel as often and as far as possible.
best swimming holes near pittsburgh

DISCLOSURE:

THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS AND I RECEIVE A COMMISSION IF YOU VISIT A LINK AND BUY SOMETHING ON MY RECOMMENDATION. PURCHASING VIA AN AFFILIATE LINK DOESN’T COST YOU ANY EXTRA, AND I ONLY RECOMMEND PRODUCTS AND SERVICES I TRUST. ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN. FOR MORE DETAILS SEE MY DISCLOSURE AND PRIVACY POLICY.

WARNING:

TAKE CAUTION AT ALL THESE PLACES AND SWIM/ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. BE WEARY OF SNAKES, UNDERTOWS AND, IF YOU DECIDE TO DO ANY JUMPING OFF OF ROCKS OR WATERFALLS, BE CAREFUL! USE YOUR OWN BEST JUDGEMENT WHEN VISITING AND SWIMMING AT THESE SITES. MY EXPERIENCE WILL LIKELY VARY FROM YOUR OWN. FOR EXAMPLE: THE WATERS COULD’VE BEEN HIGHER OR LOWER WHEN I VISITED, ROCKS MAY HAVE SHIFTED, CURRENTS COULD BE SWIFTER, ETC.
THINGS ARE ALWAYS CHANGING!


BEST SWIMMING HOLES NEAR PITTSBURGH:

Kennedy’s Mill

  • best swimming holes near pittsburgh
  • best swimming holes near pittsburgh
  • best swimming holes near pittsburgh

Location:

3956 Frew Mill Rd, New Castle, PA 16101

Where to swim?

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). Please note that there are no signs for parking or for the trail. Once parked, hop the guard rail and walk the ABC Frew Mill Trail that 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!

Why it’s the best…

This area is the lesser known and more secluded neighbor of McConnell’s Mill State Park and has quickly become one of my favorite local nature escapes. 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!

🐾 Dog friendly

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BEST SWIMMING HOLES NEAR PITTSBURGH:

Jackson Falls

  • best swimming holes near pittsburgh
  • best swimming holes near pittsburgh
  • best swimming holes near pittsburgh
  • best swimming holes near pittsburgh

Location:

Rock Furnace Trailhead in Roaring Run Recreational Area, Apollo, PA.

Where to swim?

To get to Jackson Falls you must park in the small parking lot at the beginning of Rock Furnace Trail and hike back the wide, gravel trail a little ways (not sure the exact distance but go less than a mile, for sure). Right before you come to a bridge along Rock Furnace Trail, you’ll see a small side trail leading off to the right. Follow this unnamed path along the creek to get to Jackson Falls. The path is unclear, at points, but keep close to the creek and you’ll surely find your way (as we did). Before arriving to Jackson Falls, you’ll come to a smaller waterfall – keep going. The coordinates for Jackson Falls are: 40.56536, -79.52683.

Take note: I’ve heard others say that these falls are on private property, but we did not see any signs in the direction that we came. Even more, we encountered four other people at the falls as well. So, I’m not entirely sure whether they are or are not on private lands. Just use common sense, look out for signage, be cautious and BE RESPECTFUL of the lands (as always).

Why it’s the best…

The falls is rather large for Western Pennsylvania and boasts a perfect little swimming hole at the bottom (~5ft deep). The entire area is very wooded and full of wildlife (we saw deer and were serenaded with birdsong). A fallen tree climbs the hillside at the falls where locals have created a makeshift ladder. At dusk, the sparkling scene transformed into a storybook image with the last rays of daylight peaking through the dense trees. Overall, this little gem may have been one of my most enchanting swimming hole experiences in the state!

For your swimming hole adventures, get a pair of waterproof hiking sandals at Backcountry.com.


BEST SWIMMING HOLES NEAR PITTSBURGH:

Cedar Creek Park

  • best swimming holes near pittsburgh
  • best swimming holes near pittsburgh
  • best swimming holes near pittsburgh
  • best swimming holes near pittsburgh
  • best swimming holes near pittsburgh
  • best swimming holes near pittsburgh

Location:

Cedar Creek Park in Westmoreland County, PA.

Where to swim?

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). And/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 photo’d above. When in doubt, follow the creek from the mouth of the Youghiogheny River (at the parking lot) until you arrive to the swimming hole – you can’t miss it!

Why it’s the best…

First of all, I had never heard of this place until recently so it was new and exciting! It’s only 45 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh and it’s one of the largest, legitimate swimming holes I’ve encountered in these parts. The swimming hole gets pretty deep, pretty quick – reaching approximately 6 feet at its deepest. However, the majority of it remains at a comfortable 4ft depth. Another huge perk: these were the coolest temperature waters of the lot! It felt heavenly to jump in amid this gnarly July heat. The river part of the park was semi-crowded, but we had the swimming hole to ourselves over half the time. Furthermore, the creek is teeming with critters – we spotted frogs, toads, crayfish and even a tiny snake!

🐾 Dog friendly

Shop my camera: Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless


BEST SWIMMING HOLES NEAR PITTSBURGH:

Quakertown Falls

Location:

Quackertown Falls, Mahoning Township, PA 16116

Where to swim?

First, pull off and park along the wide shoulder on the north side of the highway. Then, you must make your way down a steep, unmarked path (you can see where people have walked prior). Above the falls is a small, abandoned railroad bridge which is pretty cool for a quick photo-op. Across the bridge, make your way down. It’s not a far walk but, as I mentioned, it is rather steep. Note: you cannot see the falls from the highway but you should be able to hear its rushing waters. At the base of the falls is where you take an invigorating dip!

Why it’s the best…

Quakertown Falls is truly a hidden gem that I’ve only discovered thanks to my husband who grew up in the area. It’s very unlikely that you’ll cross paths with another soul while there! Even better, this two-tiered falls spans an impressive 40ft (approximately). I love to climb up the first tier and walk behind the booming beauty. A few years ago, I even jumped through the falls (on the first tier) and into the water hole below. It’s unlike many of the other waterfalls I’ve seen in the area due to its size, nature and location. While in the area, swing by the urban Big Run Falls in Cascade Park.

Grab a pair of my trusted, quick-dry swim + hiking shorts at Backcountry.com


BEST SWIMMING HOLES NEAR PITTSBURGH:

Meadow Run Natural Rock Waterslides

Location:

Meadow Run Trail Parking Lot, Ohiopyle State Park

Where to swim?

This is any easy one! Simply park in Meadow Run Trail Parking lot and walk through the trees on the trail and BAM! You’ll immediately come to the natural water slides. Follow the trail a little more and you’ll come to some nice swimming spots along the Youghiogheny as well. And, if you follow the trail even further…it’ll lead you to Cucumber Falls – another fantastic waterfall to cool off in! There’s no shortage of water adventures here.

Why it’s the best…

These slides are AWESOME!  If you happen to hit the natural water slides at the right time, you will shoot right down them in what will be, nonetheless, an insane ride.  Caution: you may get banged up here and there. I walked away with a bruised left arm (all up and down) but with memories that’ll last a lifetime. The risk level is dependent on the water levels and we just so happened to go when the waters were extremely high (I don’t recommend most people attempting them at that level). However, in the middle of the summer, the water slides are typically much tamer. Especially during a summer with such little rainfall as this.

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. In fact, I highly recommend booking a white water rafting trip down the Youghiogheny River with Wilderness Voyagers – it’s one of my all time favorite local adventures. To find out more unbelievable adventures to experience, locally, check out my blog post below.

🐾 Dog friendly (must be on a leash)


BEST SWIMMING HOLES NEAR PITTSBURGH:

Creek Falls (“Blue Hole”)

Location:

Creek Falls along Jacob’s Creek in Perryopolis, PA

Where to swim?

I saved this one for last because, for me, it was the trickiest. I’ve only been there once and was unsuccessful at actually swimming. Why? Because we got caught in a mighty thunderstorm and had to run back, alongside railroad tracks and across a railroad bridge (not fun or safe during lightning strikes), to get to our car. I can tell you: you park your car at the foot of a towering railroad bridge and, then, proceed to climb the hillside up to the bridge. Next, yes…you must cross the bridge. Continue along the tracks, following Jacob’s Creek, to reach Creek Falls (or, as the locals have dubbed it, Blue Hole).

Why it’s the best…

Well, for starters, I can’t actually personally claim that it’s the best considering I’ve never fully experienced it. Yet, I’ve heard the rave reviews from so many others which sent me on a whirlwind search for it in the first place. And, the search was one of the most adventurous explorations of my summer that year. After all, crossing the train trestle mid-storm gave me instant “Stand By Me” vibes and a rush of adrenaline I’ll not soon forget.

Regardless, according to hearsay and research, Blue Hole is a deep enough swimming spot to jump off of the high, encircling cliffs into. There are many YouTube videos readily available of people doing just that! Overall, this made my list for two reasons: 1. I still plan to experience it and can’t wait to journey back and 2. it’d be a crazy cool adventure for you all to take on, as well.

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Have you discovered and experienced any of these local swimming holes, yet? If so, which is your favorite? Did I forget to mention a goodie in my post? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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As always….

Thank you so much for reading and happy adventuring!

-Mindy

The End.

One thought on “Best Swimming Holes Near Pittsburgh

  1. Your pictures are absolutely stunning! I love this topic, because it is hard to find a place to swim right now and the Pittsburgh area isn’t terribly far from me. These seem like wonderful suggestions and I hope to check out 1 or 2 this summer. Thank you! 🙂

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