10 Cool TRACK Trail Parks to go for a Swim

by Allison Royal, August 1st, 2019

We're nearly midway through the summer, and it has been HOT! However, there’s still plenty of outdoor fun to be had, even when the weather is a little more than warm. Read this post by @mtnmamatales for some great hot weather hiking tips to beat the heat when you go out with your kids. There are plenty of ways to safely enjoy being outside when the summer is at its peak. And what better way to cool off than to go for a swim? Here’s a list of ten of our TRACK Trail locations that have a swimming hole or two.

Please note that most locations charge an entry fee of sorts before allowing visitors to enter the park and/or swim. These fees are used to supplement operational costs and help maintain and improve the areas for visitors.

 

Cliffs of the Neuse State Park -- Seven Springs, N.C.

- Swimming fee: Per day -- $6 - adults (13 and over), $4 - children ages 3 to 12.

 

A cool little spot in eastern North Carolina, the TRACK Trails here wind through shady woods and around an 11-acre swimming lake. It’s the perfect place to take a dip after a good hike, with such facilities as a diving platform, a sandy beach with surrounding grassy lawns, a bathhouse, a concessions stand, plenty of picnic space, and available campsite and cabin rentals. And for anyone who’d prefer to stay on top of the water, boats are available for rent. Boating and swimming are available through Labor Day, and the swim lake times are dependent on staffing, so please call the park office for current hours. Click here for more information at the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park’s website.
 


 

Hammocks Beach State Park -- Swansboro, N.C.

- No swimming fees, but fees for ferry transportation to Bear Island

 

If you’re looking to hit the beach, Hammocks Beach might be the place for you! A crown jewel of both North Carolina’s coast and Hammocks Beach State Park is Bear Island—a three-mile-long, undeveloped barrier island accessible by the park’s passenger ferry or by paddling a canoe or kayak. You can rent, or bring your own, kayaks, canoes or paddleboards to explore many paddling trails leading to the marshes, or to Bear Island where there is a protected swim area. There are lifeguards on duty in the designated swimming area through Labor Day. However, please note that Hammocks Beach is recovering from damages brought on by Hurricane Florence in 2018. Some facilities may still be closed and ferry travel delayed, so please call the park ahead of your visit, and click here for more information at Hammocks Beach State Park’s website.

 

 

Claytor Lake State Park -- Dublin, VA

- Basic weekday swimming fee: 3-12 year olds = $2, and 13+ = $3

- Basic weekend swimming fee: 3-12 year olds = $3, and 13+ = $4

- Group swimming fees are available to help give cheaper rates to groups with 10+ persons.

 

Another great summer retreat, for fun on both land and water, is Claytor Lake State Park in Virginia. Seven miles of easy hiking and biking trails are available throughout the park, and the 4,500-acre lake can accommodate a host of water recreation. People looking to go for a swim in the lake can visit a designated swimming beach, where there are an accompanying bathhouse and snack bar. Lifeguards are also present at the beach, but guarded swimming may become unavailable in inclement weather or if the park is understaffed. However, visitors to the park can make use of other facilities such as picnic areas, campsites, cabin rentals, bicycle rentals, a fishing pier, a marina, and boat rentals. Boating and swimming are available through Labor Day. Click here for more information at Claytor Lake State Park’s website.

 

 


Chilhowee Recreation Area -- Benton, TN

- Day-use fee: $3 per vehicle

 

Located in the Cherokee National Forest, the Chilhowee Recreation Area has much to offer to summertime visitors, especially if you’re looking for a scenic campground with plenty of amenities. The TRACK Trail here begins near the swim beach and loops around McKamy Lake. So hikers can take a quick, 0.6-mile loop hike before hopping into the water! Lifeguards are not available at this location, so swimmers are advised to enter the water at their own risk. Fishing, canoeing, and kayaking are also allowed on the lake, and there are approximately 25 miles of hiking throughout Chilhowee. There’s even a waterfall nearby! Click here for more information at Chilhowee Recreation Area’s website.
 

 


Hungry Mother State Park -- Marion, VA

- Basic weekday swimming fee: 3-12 year olds = $2, and 13+ = $3

- Basic weekend swimming fee: 3-12 year olds = $3, and 13+ = $4

- Group swimming fees are available to help give cheaper rates to groups with 10+ persons.

 

Hungry Mother State Park is noted for its beautiful woodlands and a placid 108-acre lake in the heart of the mountains. And not only does the park have interesting folklore and history, but it’s also a great escape for summer adventures! The park has a sandy beach with bathhouse, boat rentals, and a universally accessible fishing pier. Visitors can also enjoy campgrounds, cabins, yurts, gift shops, a visitor center, miles of hiking and biking trails, and restaurant. Swimming is available through Labor Day with lifeguards on duty during certain hours at designated swimming areas. Click here for more information at Hungry Mother State Park’s website.

 

 


Jordan Lake State Recreation Area - Seaforth -- Apex, N.C.

- Entrance Fee: $7 per car

 

The TRACK Trail for Jordan Lake State Recreation Area is located in the Seaforth area of the park, where there is a 1.4-mile loop trail with scenic views of the lake along the majority of the hike. Nearby to the TRACK Trail is one of the parks many swimming beaches across the 14,000-acre reservoir. Jordan Lake is also ADA friendly, and visitors will find access to a wide range of recreational facilities, including accessible picnic shelters, swimming beaches including the beach at Seaforth, campsites, and courtesy docks. Park staff will guide you to facilities best suited to your needs. Click here for more information at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area’s website.

 

 

 

Lake James State Park -- Nebo, N.C.

- Swimming fee (when lifeguards on duty): Per day -- $6 - adults (13 and over), $4 - children ages 3 to 12

 

Located at the base of Linville Gorge is Lake James, a 6,812-acre reservoir with more than 150 miles of shoreline. Here you can go swimming, sunbathing or enjoy a quiet picnic along the lakeshore in the Paddy’s Creek Area of the park. Fishing and boating are also permitted, with boat rentals located at a concessions stand near the swimming beach. Also in the Paddy’s Creek Area is an accessible bathhouse and picnic areas. Visitors are permitted to swim until September 30, where fees only apply while a lifeguard is on duty. And don’t forget to check out the miles of hiking and biking trails throughout Lake James, including a section of the Overmountain Victory Trail! Click here for more information at Lake James State Park’s website.
 

 

 

Pettigrew State Park -- Creswell, N.C.

- No fee

 

This secluded park is nestled in one of eastern North Carolina's last old-growth forests, with Lake Phelps being the centerpiece of this natural and historical retreat. Visitors can hike down part of the Lakeshore Trail (where the TRACK Trail is located) and then enjoy swimming in the shallow clear waters of the lake in a designated swim area. The swimming pier has two ladders so the water is easily accessible, and the square platform at the end of the pier has seating, so visitors have a place to relax and keep an eye on swimmers. There is no fee for swimming as lifeguards are not provided. So, adults must provide swimming supervision. Click here for more information at Pettigrew State Park’s website.



 

 

Lake Norman State Park -- Statesville, N.C.

- Swimming fee (when lifeguards on duty): Per day -- $6 - adults (13 and over), $4 - children ages 3 to 12.

**The swim beach only accepts cash, so please visit the visitor center first for card payment

 

Lake Norman State Park sits by the largest manmade lake in North Carolina with a 125-yard-long swim beach and bathhouse complex. Other facilities include a concession stand, restrooms, changing stalls, warm showers, and lockers. You can also rent a variety of boats from the visitor center on Park Lake; pedal boats, kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes are available to visitors. Lifeguard service, concessions, and locker rooms are only offered until Labor Day. Click here for more information at Lake Norman State Park’s website.




 

 


Falls Lake State Recreation Area -- Durham, N.C.

- Day-use fee: $7 per vehicle

 

Scattered around the shoreline of Falls Lake are seven access areas that make up the Falls Lake State Recreation Area. Of these areas, Rolling View and Beaverdam each host a TRACK Trail, as well as sandy swimming beaches with nearby restrooms and changing facilities. In total, there are five swim beaches in the recreation area. There is also a great network of hiking and mountain biking trails as well as a separate and quiet lake impoundment perfect for paddling, fishing, and swimming. The Mountains-to-Sea State Trail winds through parts of the recreation area. Click here for more information at Falls Lake State Recreation Area’s website.