Blue Hole Charlottesville: Complete Hiking Guide

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Blue Hole is a popular swimming hole near Charlottesville, VA. It’s a great place to cool off in the hot Virginia summers, though it does get crowded! 

It’s not easy finding Blue Hole (I accidentally walked right past it when I went in the fall!) but this guide will help you every step of the way!  

Blue Hole Charlottesville Map

It is a little difficult to find the trailhead to Blue Hole. Below is a map to help you find the way. The trailhead is located at Moormans River Trailheads.

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Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Lightweight Waterproof Shoe Hiking Boot. I own these hiking boots, and they are incredibly durable, with great ankle support, and excellent traction for slippery surfaces. Plus, they’re waterproof for extra protection.

Brooks Women’s Adrenaline. I also own these shoes, and they are my absolute favorite, go-to running shoes. They are also excellent for long walks and hikes. They have great traction, great heel stability, and they’re very comfortable.

Blue Hole Charlottesville Directions 

Blue Hole is technically on a trail called the Moorman River Trail in Crozet, Va. It’s about 15 miles outside of Charlottesville, and one of my favorite hikes near Charlottesville

The trailhead is not easily found on any map. The trailhead is located at a parking lot at the end of Sugar Hollow Road in Crozet, VA. Just keep driving till you reach the end of Sugar Hollow Road.

The best way to find it is by using one of the following methods: 

  • Search for Moormans River Trailheads. This is located on Sugar Hollow Road, about 5.5 miles past Stinson Vineyards, and about 0.7 miles past the Sugar Hollow Reservoir.
  • Search for Stinson Vineyards, which is on Sugar Hollow Road. When you turn on Sugar Hollow Road, just keep driving along it for about 5.5 miles (about 13 minutes) until you reach the parking lot at the very end of the road. 
  • Search for 6796 Sugar Hollow Road, Crozet, VA. Some GPS systems will lead you to a point along Sugar Hollow Road. If you have not yet reached the end of the road, continue forward until you reach the end of the road and the parking lot for the trailhead. 

As you drive down Sugar Hollow Road toward the trailhead, you will go along three one-lane bridges, plus you will eventually pass the impressive Sugar Hollow Reservoir. 

Sugar Hollow Reservoir

You can stop at the small parking lot at the reservoir to take pictures. 

When you reach the end of Sugar Hollow Road you will find a gravel parking lot. Note that there are only a few dozen spaces, and these can fill up quickly in nice weather and on the weekends. 

From the parking lot, you will see a sign indicating the direction to the hike to Blue Hole, and the direction to another excellent hike to Big Branch Falls

If you have time, I recommend both hikes. It may take about 2 hours round trip to complete each hike. This is the amount of time it took me, though I tend to be a slow hiker, plus I stopped to take lots of pictures. 

Here are My Top Must-Have Items to Bring on Your Next Hike!
1. Mountain Top 40L Hiking Backpack. This is my go-to favorite backpack! I’ve brought it all over the world. It has a rain cover, lots of room, plus it’s super durable and comfy.
2. Running Belt Waist Pack. For smaller hikes, this pack is a great way to bring your cell phone along for the journey. It’s thin and sleek.
3. Trekking Sticks. For more strenuous hikes, these walking sticks fold up for compact and easy travel.
4. Liquid I.V. This miracle powder will keep you hydrated in even the hottest conditions. Just mix with water.
5. Off Deep Woods Insect Repellant. The perfect weapon to keep pesky mosquitos away.

Hike to Blue Hole

The trailhead to the hike to Blue Hole is located at the gate that is closest to the entrance to the parking lot. There is a sign in the middle of the parking lot that points towards the trail as well. 

The hike is about 1.5 miles out to Blue Hole, and then 1.5 miles back. The path is very wide and does not have too much of an elevation gain throughout. There are some smaller hills, but nothing too strenuous. 

In fact, the hike in general is a pleasant, peaceful hike through the woods. The swimming hole is popular in the summer, but I went in October and I loved the beautiful prism of fall colors on all of the trees. 

Blue Hole hike in Fall

Though you probably don’t want to swim in the water in fall, I thoroughly recommend going in the fall just for the beautiful fall leaves. 

Probably the trickiest part about the hike is watching for rocks on the trail. The path is quite rocky, and it can be especially hard to see the rocks if you go in the fall when the leaves are on the ground.  

Along the way, you will also come across several stream crossings, but there are stepping stones to walk on to help you cross the water. 

Around the 1.5-mile mark, you’ll find Blue Hole on the right side of the trail. During the popular summer months, you won’t be able to miss it, but when I went during the much quieter fall months I accidentally walked right past it!

Blue Hole, a popular swimming hole near Charlottesville

If you keep going up along the path, you’ll eventually reach two posts and a chain link. This is technically the boundary of Shenandoah National Park, and it means you’ve gone too far! 

To help you find Blue Hole, be on the lookout for the following big rocks, which will be on your left side as you walk up the hill along the trail. Blue Hole will then be on your right. 

Once you reach Blue Hole, you can take some pretty pictures right from the trail above. I also recommend climbing down on a narrow path leading to the rocks by the swimming hole. 

From down there, you can take even better pictures of the swimming hole, the sunlight, and even a little waterfall cascading down the rocks into it. 

It’s a magical sight! The water even occasionally looks a little blue when the sun hits it just right! 

After soaking in the beauty of Blue Hole, simply retrace your steps on the way back. Watch for a stone structure on your right as you head back. This is the remnants of a water wheel that once functioned near the stream. 

water wheel remnants along the hike to Blue Hole

Hike to Big Branch Falls

When you get back to the parking lot, and if you have the time, I recommend also taking the hike to Big Branch Falls. 

This hike is a little longer. It is about 1.8 miles to reach the falls and then 1.8 miles to return to the parking lot. I finished this hike in about 2 hours, with stops along the way to take pictures. 

The hike begins at the gate opposite the entrance to the hike to Blue Hole. It is also located on the further side of the parking lot, away from the entrance. The hike begins with a gravel incline for a little way. 

From there, much of the hike is similar to the wooded hike to Blue Hole, except that the path is generally a little narrower throughout. 

Fall leaves along the trail to Big Branch Falls

There are three stream crossings, but each one features big boulders to help you get across without too much trouble. 

Stepping stones along the hike to Big Branch Falls

Each water crossing also features lovely views of the stream, rocks, and trees! After each stream crossing, it might be a little hard to find the path again. Look for the yellow blazes on the trees to help you find the path.  

There are also some more elevation gains and moderate rock scrambles right before you reach the falls. 

Rock scrambles along Big Branch Falls

After the third water crossing, you’ll be skirting the stream. At one point, you’ll see the trail branch off with a yellow blaze sign and a blue blaze sign. 

Follow the blue blaze sign to the left, and continue along this path a little further. Soon after, you’ll reach a big rock with a rope. Grab onto the rope to help you climb up the sloping boulder and continue along the path. 

At this point, you just have a few more steps to go before you reach Big Branch Falls.  

Big Branch Falls and swimming hole

One thing to note, if water levels are low, there may not be much of a waterfall. This was unfortunately the case when I went in the fall. There is a large rock wall, but there was only a small trickle of water coming down it into the pool below. 

This was a bit disappointing. I’m sure the waterfall is very beautiful and serene when the water levels are high and the water is really gushing. 

Still, though, the hike was a beautiful and peaceful walk through the woods and over streams. And the big rock wall at Big Branch Falls was still an impressive sight! 

I also recommend climbing down near the side of the trail to get a better view of the falls and the swimming hole beneath it. 

Once you’ve taken in the views of the falls, simply retrace your steps to get back to the parking lot.   

Conclusion: Blue Hole and Big Branch Falls

In general, I loved both hikes, though the Big Branch Falls hike was likely to be even more impressive with higher water levels. 

I did find the Big Branch Falls hike to be a little more challenging than the Blue Hole hike. It’s a little longer and features more difficult stream crossings with big boulders, narrower paths, more hills, and more rock scrambles. 

Plus, the part where you need to grab a rope to get over the big bolder near the falls is a bit of an adventure!  

After you’ve completed two fabulous hikes for the day, I highly recommend stopping by Stinson Vineyards on the way back along Sugar Hollow Road!

The winery features more lovely views of the surrounding countryside! It’s also one of my favorite wineries in Crozet, VA!

FAQs About the Hike to Blue Hole Near Charlottesville

How long is the Blue Hole hike?

The hike to Blue Hole is about 1.5 miles, with a return hike of another 1.5 miles. It can take about 2 hours to complete the full roundtrip hike. 

Can you swim in the Charlottesville Reservoir?

No, you cannot swim in the Charlottesville Reservoir (also known as the Sugar Hollow Reservoir.) Fishing is permitted. 

Where can I swim in Charlottesville?

There are many places to swim in Charlottesville, including Chris Greene Lake Park and Blue Hole swimming hole in nearby Crozet, VA.  

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