Hey there! Chloe here. Before moving to Georgia, I was relatively unaware of the variety of outdoor experiences the state has to offer. A few of my colleagues have posted about hiking already so this post will add on: hikes with places to swim! This is one of my favorite activities to do in the warmer months (read: May-September). There’s nothing cooler than jumping into a natural pool, stream, or river after a long hike. Without further ado:
Tallulah Gorge (Tallulah Falls, GA, 1.5 hours from Rollins)
Need an excuse to get out of the Atlanta bubble? Look no further than Tallulah Gorge. This is one of my favorite places to adventure since the site offers so much: hiking, swimming, camping, and a nice visitor center with actual restrooms – always a plus! There are different trail offerings with varying level of difficulty. All trails offer panoramic views of the gorge that is the second deepest canyon in the United States after the Grand Canyon.
The hike down to the gorge was decently steep and involved some scrambling as there wasn’t a defined “trail” like earlier sections. Appropriate footwear is strongly recommended if you do venture to the gorge floor. After ~15-20 minutes of coordinated scrambling, you reach the water. My friends and I went on a pretty warm day so there were already people milling about on the rocks, tanning, eating lunch, swimming, and enjoying the natural water slide.
My roommate and I slid down the slide and swam for a bit. The water was shockingly cold at first, but ultimately refreshing. This is definitely one of the hidden gems of Georgia!
Helpful tip: If you plan on water-sliding, wear shorts or clothing that protects you from getting scraped by the rock slide more than just a bathing suit bottom. My roommate wore running shorts and I wore biker spandex.
Panther Creek (Turnerville, GA, 1 hour and 20 minutes from Rollins)
Want a swimming hole that’s a decent hike and dog friendly? Panther Creek is the perfect option. This out and back trail is 7 miles in total – 3.5 miles in and 3.5 miles back.. This trail has decent tree coverage which I was very grateful for. There is a defined trail the whole way. Like Talullah, this site also has places to camp and is well-trafficked.
Helpful tip: Make sure to use the restroom before driving to this site! The trailhead doesn’t have any bathrooms – including porta potties – so the only options are to find a secluded spot in the woods or hold it the whole 7 mile hike.
Emory Student Activity and Academic Center Campus Pool (Atlanta, GA, 7 minutes from Rollins)
Want to enjoy the water but don’t actually want to hike? Emory’s Student Activity and Academic Center Pool is perfect for you! Located conveniently on Emory’s campus, this pool is just a short shuttle or car ride away. (If you still want to get a “hike” in, it’s a 31 minute walk to Clairmont Campus).
This pool boasts a 50m Olympic pool, teaching pool, and a kiddie pool to cater to all your water needs. The pool is open 7 days a week from April 1 – November 1, with hours varying by the day. Pool hours can be found here.
This pool is free for all Emory undergraduate and graduate students.
Helpful tip: Parking at the closest parking deck (the Starvine deck) is free on the weekends and past 4 pm on weekdays.