Yesterday we received an email from a reader:
My wife and I are traveling to Huntsville at the end of August next month. Do you know of any places to go swimming near Huntsville? These may include lakes, rivers or springs. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you.
-Hot & Dry in Huntsville
We absolutely understand the desire for swimming holes given Alabama's nearly extreme climate. Add to that the fact that public and private pools don't allow your best friend, Fido, to join in the fun. Well unfortunately for this reader, Huntsville proper doesn't offer too many places to swim although there are some but hopefully readers can come to the rescue with additional suggestions. The more picturesque locations are going to be 1-2 hours away but certainly conceivable for a day trip.
Joe Wheeler State Park
They've certainly got a nice marketing pitch:
You don’t have to go all the way to the coast to enjoy the sand, sun, and water. We have it here at Joe Wheeler State Park. The Beach Area is great for the kids and family. Soak up some sun rays, play in the sand, jump in the river to cool off, or have a picnic.
Cost: $4 for adults and $2 for kids. Easy access to restrooms and showers. Kayaking and SUP rentals available from Fort Hampton Outfitters onsite. No alcohol allowed.
I actually discovered this place while canoeing from the Triana boat launch off Zierdt Road. There appeared to be a sandy beach across the river so off I went and eventually found a crowded beach. A nearby sunbather informed me of the beach's name. Google maps gives it two more names--Triana Recreation Area and Redneck Beach Campground. An older map refers to it as The Booger Hole.
Tennessee River Bluffs
There are bluffs along parts of the Tennessee River that can be fun to explore. There have been some deaths recently so be careful. A popular spot is on the south side of the river close to Decatur. There's also some near Lacey's Spring.
We've seen folks playing in the Flint River behind the Flint Primitive Baptist Church on Everett Road near Ryland Pike. Also at the concrete steps called Cherokee Landing within Hayes Nature Preserve. Several other road intersections are popular as well. The river can be fairly swift north of Hayes Nature Preserve so use caution.
North Alabama Canoe and Kayak (NACK) is also a great resource for float trips either by kayak or tube.
Pack a Lunch
Kinlock Falls - Bankhead National Forest
This would be about a 90-minute drive from Huntsville deep in Bankhead National Forest. The swift-moving water is chilly and the slope and smoothness of the rocks allow it to be used as a water slide.
Dismals Canyon - Phil Campbell
Swim in a natural pool carved out of solid rock by the rushing waters of Dismals Creek.
Combine it with a trip to Kinlock Falls which is only about 30 minutes from Dismals Canyon.
Little River Canyon - Ft. Payne
Martha's Falls, a.k.a. "the Hippie Hole", sits among bluffs and waterfalls and is surrounded by a lush forest. It's not exactly a secret swimming hole but it's definitely picturesque and will make for some amazing Instagram photos.
According to al.com, there's another spot with a rope swing called either Mills Hole or Upper Hole.
High Falls - Guntersville
The centerpiece of High Falls Park is the 35-feet waterfall. Formed by Town Creek, the falls span some 300 feet across at times.
Point Mallard - Decatur
Nearly all Huntsville natives have fond childhood memories of Point Mallard. It's improved significantly since the 90s. Wave pool, lazy river...what's not to like?
Spring Valley Beach - Blountsville
This place is in the middle of nowhere. No. Where. You're driving through cornfields and then all of a sudden there's a clearing and a waterpark oasis appears. They've got several water rides plus what they claim is the largest pool in the southeast:
Our 2 acre pool offers fun for the entire family. Feel free to sit or grill out poolside, relax on a float in the pool, or slide down one of our four pool area slides.
They've got a very laid back philosophy. Bring your own grill, cooler, shade tent and spend the day by the gargantuan pool. It even made the Travel Channel's Extreme Waterparks.
All to Yourself
Rent "the largest slide in north Alabama" for a cool $600. It's 22 feet tall and 62 feet long. Better measure your backyard first.