Like drive-in movie theaters and full-service gas stations, swinging bridges are one of those remnants of the past that we just don’t see much anymore. And when you do, they make you smile. An unplanned encounter with a swinging bridge on a hike is equal parts exciting and terrifying. There’s this entrancing energy that overcomes us as we cross from one side to another. Many explorers and outdoor lovers seek out some of the famous suspension bridges that call the South home. Here are eight picturesque swinging bridges to cross (or not) on your next Southern hike.
8 Jaw-Dropping Swinging Bridges
Tishomingo State Park
Northeast Mississippi’s Tishomingo State Park is home to the famed Tishomingo Swinging Bridge. The 200-foot-long bridge is a functional piece of the land’s rich history. It crosses over Bear Creek and leads to a waterfall and boulder-laden rock formations perfect for picnicking and reflection. Tishomingo State Park dates back all the way to 7000 B.C. when Paleo Indians settled on the land. Later, in the early 1800s, these rolling hills were home to the Chickasaw Tribe, which is now the namesake of the park and its county and city. Aside from the bridge, enjoy the park’s 1,500 acres of lush natural beauty, impressive rock formations, colorful wildflowers, and tranquil creeks. Situated along the beloved Natchez Trace Parkway, many call Tishomingo State Park the most scenic park in Mississippi.
Mile High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain
Linville, North Carolina
Those scared of heights miiiight want to scroll past this one! One mile above sea level (that’s 5,280 feet!), this is arguably the most famous swinging bridge in the country: The Mile High Swinging Bridge near North Carolina’s Grandfather Mountain. Built in 1952 — and then rebuilt in 1999 — the cables, floorboards, and side rails have been replaced with galvanized steel. The highest suspension footbridge in the United States, it spans 228 feet over an 80-foot chasm at staggering heights, showing off stunning views of surrounding peaks and valleys. Whether you want the thrill, the scenery, or to behold this engineering masterpiece, the journey to the other side is considered a heart-pumping, can’t-miss highlight of a trip to Grandfather Mountain.
The Bridge of Prosperity at Foxfire Mountain
Built in 2012, Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park’s Bridge of Prosperity is the longest bridge in America at four feet wide and more than 400 feet long (longer than a football field!). Constructed to actually swing in a sturdy and safe way, the bridge is anchored by more than 30 tons of concrete at either end and can hold more than 24,000 pounds. While the $20 adult entrance fee to the park is a little steep (kiddos under 8 visit for free), there is truly so much to do here, and this bridge is a sight worth beholding.
Want even more blood-pumping bridge adventures? Anakeesta, also in Gatlinburg, is home to North America’s longest tree-based skywalk. While this is technically not a swinging bridge, it’s a suspended wooden boardwalk that seems to float up in the trees. It’s particularly magical at night, too.
Myakka River State Park
The Myakka Canopy Walkway at Myakka River State Park was the first public treetop trail in North America. And while it’s a bit more stable than some of the footbridges on this list, its purpose is also unique. What started as just a research and education tool turned out to be wildly popular among visitors, too! The walkway hovers 25 feet above the ground and extends 100 feet through the hammock canopy bringing you up into Florida’s flourishing canopy wildlife. Once you cross the bridge, climb the stairs up the 75-feet-tall observation tower for even more spectacular views of treetops, wetlands, and wildlife. You might see eagles, hawks, gators, and the tops of giant live oak and sabal palm trees.
Buchanan Swinging Bridge
Near Roanoke, Virginia
The Buchanan Swinging Bridge, a 366-feet-long and 57-feet-tall swinging bridge near Roanoke, Virginia, is the most historically significant on the list. The structure you can cross today is a few facelifts, name changes, and iterations from the original covered bridge built in 1851 as a toll bridge across the James River. Portions of this bridge have witnessed Civil War raids, floods, and the rerouting of Route 11. Completely safe to traverse, you can walk this National Historic Landmark — the only one of its kind on the James River — or bemuse its storied history from afar. Continue exploring the quaint historic town of Buchanan while you’re at it.
Chalk Ridge Falls Park Swinging Bridge
An easy drive from Austin or Waco, Texas, is the magical Chalk Ridge Falls State Park — home to not one, but two, massive bridges! The Chalk Ridge Falls Park swinging bridge is wavy, squeaky, and narrow, but it’s worth the views and the thrill. Waterfalls, lush landscapes, and crystal-clear pools of water are a few of nature’s treasures to behold in this park. You’ll want to spend the whole day here.
Toccoa River Swinging Bridge
Near Blue Ridge, Georgia
We have another superlative, y’all. The 270-foot-long Toccoa River swinging bridge over the Toccoa River near Blue Ridge, Georgia, is the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi River. Day-hikers, backpackers, and paddlers journeying down the Toccoa River Canoe Trail love to cross over (or under) this bridge. Built by the U.S. Forest Service in 1977, you can access the bridge from short, pleasant trails on each side of the river. Blue Ridge and the surrounding towns of North Georgia are all the rage right now, so add this bridge to your weekend lineup when you visit.
Eno River State Park
Durham, North Carolina
Just 10 miles from downtown Durham, North Carolina, is the 4,200-acre Eno River State Park, offering a tranquil escape from its urban surroundings. Walk along the riverbank, go deeper into the woodlands, or hike a short nature trail — there are 28 miles of trail at varying degrees of difficulty to choose from. To get to the suspension footbridge, take the Cox Trail that starts at Fews Ford picnic area. Once it intersects with the Fanny’s Ford Trail loop, the trail goes down to the river and across the bridge. There’s no way to continue on the trail except to cross this daredevil bridge — will you have the guts!?
Pack those bags, take the trip, lace up your shoes, and cross that bridge!
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