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Virginia Waterfalls

Virginia has a number of scenic waterfalls in the mountainous part of the state.  I've only had the chance to visit a few, but will hopefully visit more in the future.

Apple Orchard Falls:

Trailhead GPS: 37.50777,-79.52395 (Sunset Fields Overlook); 37.53457,-79.57742 (North Creek Trailhead)
Waterfall GPS: 37.51630,-79.53278

Apple Orchard Falls is a waterfall on a tributary of North Creek in Botetourt County.  The falls are located in the Glenwood-Pedlar Ranger District of Jefferson National Forest.  The hike to the waterfall is about 2.5 miles and moderate in difficulty or it's possible to do a longer loop hike that incorporates the waterfall.

To visit the falls, head north on the Blue Ridge Parkway from Peaks of Otter for about 8 miles to the Sunset Fields Overlook at mile post 78.4.  Alternately, to reach the North Creek Trailhead, take exit 168 from I-81 near Buchanan.  Follow Jennings Creek Road for a little over 3 miles and turn left on North Creek Road (Forest Service Road 59).  Follow FSR 59 to the end; the road is initially paved, but becomes gravel.

From Sunset Fields Overlook, follow Apple Orchard Falls Trail (#79) from the overlook.  The trail intersects the Appalachian Trail in about a quarter mile and Cornelius Creek Trail (#18) in about three-quarters of a mile.  In about a mile, the trail crosses the tributary above the falls and there is a small waterfall here.  The trail then swings around and descends to the base of the waterfall on an impressive boardwalk structure.

Cabin Creek Lower Waterfall:

Trailhead GPS: 36.63332,-81.50874 (Massie Gap Parking at Grayson Highlands)
Waterfall GPS: 36.63352,-81.51933

Lower Waterfall on Cabin Creek is a 20-foot waterfall on its namesake creek in Grayson County.  The waterfall is located in Grayson Highlands State Park.  The hike to the waterfall is a moderate 1.8-mile loop.

To visit the falls, head west from Independence on US-58 for about 25 miles to Grayson Highlands State Park.  Turn right into the park and go about 3.5 miles to the Massie Gap Parking on the right.

From the parking area, head down into the open area and go left to pick up Cabin Creek Trail, which is blazed yellow.  You'll cross a horse trail right away and come to a fork in about a quarter-mile.  It's a loop so you can either way, but I think it's easier to go left.  The trail follows a tributary down towards Cabin Creek then heads right to meet up with the creek.  The waterfall is a short ways upstream.


There is another nice drop above the main one.  You can rock-hop out to an island in the creek for a good view.

Cabin Creek Upper Waterfall:

Trailhead GPS: 36.63332,-81.50874 (Massie Gap Parking at Grayson Highlands)
Waterfall GPS: 36.63763,-81.52096

Upper Waterfall on Cabin Creek is a long cascading waterfall on its namesake creek in Grayson County.  The waterfall is located in Grayson Highlands State Park.  The hike to the waterfall is a moderate 1.8-mile loop.

To visit the falls, follow the directions to Lower Waterfall on Cabin Creek above.  Continue following the trail as it heads upstream along Cabin Creek.  Where the trail cuts sharply to the left and departs from the creek, continue upstream a short ways.  There's no one spot to get a good view of the entire thing.

Cascades Falls:

Trailhead GPS: 37.35301,-80.59984 (Cascades Day Use Area Parking)
Waterfall GPS: 37.36792,-80.57519

Cascades Falls is a 66-foot waterfall on Little Stony Creek in Giles County.  The waterfall is located in the Eastern Divide Ranger District of Jefferson National Forest.  The hike to the waterfall is about 4 miles round trip and moderate in difficulty.

To visit the falls, head west from Blacksburg on US-460.  In about 14 miles, you'll pass through the small town of Pembroke.  Turn right on Cascade Drive, at the Forest Service sign, and follow the road for 4 miles to the Cascades Day Use Area at the end.  There is a $3 per car day-use fee, payable at self-serve kiosks.

From the parking area hike down the Cascades Trail (#70), a designated National Recreation Trail.  Soon, the trail will split at a bridge.  Either way leads to the waterfall.  The Upper Trail is straight ahead - it follow the creek upstream along an old road bed.  In about 2 miles, there will be a split, where right goes down to the waterfall and left continues up the old road.  The Lower Trail is accessed by crossing the bridge at the first split.  This trail is more scenic as it follows Little Stony Creek right along the creek.  There are numerous scenic cascades along the way and much of the trail is literally built into the rocks along the creek.  Cascades is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Virginia.

Cascades Upper Falls:

Trailhead GPS: 37.35301,-80.59984 (Cascades Day Use Area Parking)
Waterfall GPS: 37.37260,-80.57439

Upper Cascades is a scenic waterfall on Little Stony Creek in Giles County.  The waterfall is located in the Eastern Divide Ranger District of Jefferson National Forest.  The hike to the waterfall is about 5 miles round trip and moderate in difficulty.

To visit the falls, follow the directions to Cascades above.  At the point where the Upper Trail splits right above Cascades, go left, if coming from the parking lot, or right if coming from Cascades.  Continue following the trail upstream for about another half-mile to a split.  Left leads to Barney's Wall Trail.  Go right and head down to creek level above the waterfall and find a way to scramble down to the base.  Although not nearly as big as Cascades, the Upper Cascades is another very scenic waterfall in this area.

Crabtree Falls:

Trailhead GPS: 37.85090,-79.07970 (Crabtree Falls Day Use Area Parking Lot)
Waterfall GPS: 37.84975,-79.07793

Crabtree Falls is a 1000-foot cascading waterfall on Crabtree Creek in Nelson County.  Although you can't see the entire thing at once, the entire run is around 1000 feet, making it the highest waterfall on the east coast.  The waterfall is located in the Cascade Falls Day Use Area in the Glenwood-Pedlar Ranger District of George Washington National Forest.

To visit the falls, head north on I-81 from Roanoke for about 60 miles.  Take exit 205 and follow VA-606 east for about 1.5 miles.  Turn left on US-11 north and then an immediate right on VA-56 east.  Follow VA-56 East for about 11.9 miles, passing the Blue Ridge Parkway about half-way.  Turn right into Crabtree Falls Day Use Area.  There is a day use fee of $3 per vehicle, payable to self-serve kiosks at the entrance and trailhead.

The Crabtree Falls Trail (#526) begins past the restrooms.  The first part of the trail is paved and handicapped-accessible, leading a short ways to an overlook for the lowest portion of the waterfall.

After this point, the trail becomes a little more difficult and is no longer accessible.  The trail basically follows the waterfall up through a bunch of stairs and switchbacks.  Each time the trail returns to the waterfall, there is another overlook for views of the falls.



Dismal Falls:

Trailhead GPS: 37.18512,-80.90167 (Pull-off on FR-201)
Waterfall GPS: 37.18588,-80.90170

Dismal Falls, or Falls of Dismal, is a 15-foot waterfall on Dismal Creek in Giles County.  The waterfall is located in the Eastern Divide Ranger District of Jefferson National Forest.  The hike to the falls is less than a quarter-mile round trip and easy.

To visit the falls, take exit 52 from I-77 towards Bland.  Turn right to get on VA-42 east and go about 14 miles and turn left on State Road 606.  Drive one mile and turn right on Dismal Creek Road.  The road is initially paved, but becomes gravel Forest Road 201.  In just under one mile from the turn, look for a pull-off on the right with a sign for Dismal Falls.  From the pull-off, hike down the short Dismal Falls Trail (#1058) past the sign for less than 0.1 miles to the waterfall.

Falling Spring Falls:

Trailhead GPS: 37.86759,-79.94704 (Parking area on US-220)
Waterfall GPS: 37.86779,-79.94782

Falling Spring Falls is a beautiful 80-foot waterfall on Falling Spring Creek in Alleghany County, less than ten miles north of Covington.  The waterfall is located on the property of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, having been donated by Mead Westvaco.

To visit the falls, head north from Covington on US-220.  There is a small parking area on the side of the highway, about 9.5 miles north on US-220 from exit 16 on I-64.  There is a small picnic area and overlook here on the side of the highway with nice views of the waterfall.


For the more adventurous, it is possible to climb down to the base of the falls.  There is a path that leads from the picnic area to the creek above the falls.  I guess some people swim here as there is a rope swing over a pool above the falls.  If you choose to swim here, be very careful not to get swept over the waterfall.  From the top of the waterfall, the path leads down to the base, climbing steeply down through the rocks supporting the highway to the base.  It's a challenging climb down, but the views from the base are fantastic.

Fallingwater Cascades:

Trailhead GPS: 37.47310,-79.58046 (Fallingwater Parking Area); 37.46845,-79.58051 (Flat Top Parking Area)
Waterfall GPS: 37.47641,-79.58153

Fallingwater Cascades is a series of cascades and slides on Fallingwater Creek in Botetourt County.  The falls are accessed via a moderate 1.6-mile hike from the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The waterfall is located in Jefferson National Forest, but is accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway.  See my Peaks of Otter page for directions and more description.

Falls Ridge Waterfall:

Trailhead GPS: 37.19329,-80.32160 (Falls Ridge Parking)
Waterfall GPS: 37.18957,-80.31987

Waterfall in Falls Ridge is a 80-foot waterfall on a Falls Hollow, a tributary of North Fork Roanoke River in Montgomery County.  The waterfall is located in Falls Ridge Preserve, a Nature Conservancy protected area.  The hike to the falls is less than a mile round trip and easy.

To visit the falls, head south from Blacksburg on US-460-Bus and turn left onto VA-603.  Go a total of about 4.6 miles and turn right on a narrow red private bridge to cross North Fork Roanoke River.  Cross the bridge and the railroad tracks and then turn left on a narrow gravel road.  Follow this road as it parallels the railroad tracks, then bears right and heads into the woods.  Depending on water level, you may have to ford a shallow stream.  At the fork, bear left to head into the preserve at the sign and park.

From the parking area, follow the trail through the open area and once in the woods, go right at the split to get on the short Bradley Trail.  The viewing platform for the falls is just ahead.  The Nature Conservancy has preserved this beautiful area and is nice enough to allow public access.  Please stay on the trail and overlook - don't climb around to get a better picture or you could trample sensitive vegetation.  The waterfall isn't big, but the setting is beautiful with interesting limestone formations all around.  Note that the Nature Conservancy claims the waterfall is 80 feet high; I think it's actually much smaller than this, but still pretty and worth a visit.  Besides the waterfall, there are a bunch of shallow travertine caves around the waterfall - it's a great place to explore.

Wilson Creek Waterfall:

Trailhead GPS: 36.64003,-81.48741 (Parking opposite Camp Store)
Waterfall GPS: 36.64751,-81.49171

Waterfall on Wilson Creek is a 25-foot waterfall in Grayson County.  The waterfall is located in Grayson Highlands State Park.  The hike to the waterfall is part of a 1.8-mile loop that is moderate in difficulty.

To visit the falls, head west from Independence on US-58 for about 25 miles to Grayson Highlands State Park.  Turn right into the park and go about 3.3 miles and turn right on the Campground Road, just before Massie Gap.  Drive 1.3 miles and turn left into the parking area opposite the camp store.

The Wilson Creek Trail is a loop so you can either way, but it's easier to go right than to go straight down the old road.  Just past the sign at the trailhead, the trail descends steeply towards Wilson Creek, meeting up with the creek in about a half mile.  There are many cascades and drops along the creek, but the waterfall is about 1 mile from the trailhead if hiking the loop in the counterclockwise direction.  There are some nice rocks near the base to climb out for a good view.  From here, continue on the trail a short ways to where it switchbacks sharply to the left and departs from the creek.  At the intersection, turn left and follow the gravel road back to the parking area.