RIVERS AND WATERFALLS
Cascades National Recreation Trail, VA 4 miles (Easy)
Need to cool off, fast? This out-and-back hike near Blacksburg climbs 700 feet over two miles of rock- and root-studded terrain, quickly reaching a cold-water oasis at Cascades Falls. Here, Little Stoney Creek dumps 66 feet into a wide hollow; the spring-fed water remains chilly year-round, which keeps the swimming hole from getting overcrowded despite the easy access. Season Summer for swimming, winter to see the frozen falls
Info (540) 552-4641
Chinnabee Silent Trail, AL 11.8 miles (Moderate)
As the name of this trail implies, you won’t hear more than a gurgling creek and chirping cicadas on the round-trip from Lake Chinnabee to 2,005-foot Talladega Mountain. Two miles from the start you’ll pass waterfalls at Devil’s Den and Cheaha Falls–and their respective swimming holes–but save your dip for after the 1,000-foot climb up Talladega.
Info (256) 362-2909
Chattooga Trail, SC 13.3 miles (Difficult)
The iconic Chattooga River is the domain of solitude-loving hikers and trout-loving anglers along this rugged stretch of trail (and boat-free river). The one-way route hugs the river, save for a three-mile stretch where the water picks up some class V teeth in narrow Rock Gorge. Start at the trailhead on SC 28.
Season Year-round Info (864) 638-9569
Tallulah Gorge, SC 4 miles (Moderate)
This out-and-back dives to the bottom of a 1,000-foot gorge that shelters rare regional treasures like the green salamander–and a sweet swimming hole at Bridal Veil Falls. Season April-October Info (706) 754-7970