June is Outdoor Month and what better way to kick it off than by showcasing all the beauty Virginia’s waterfall hiking trails can offer? Here are 10 trails to experience this summer… with PLENTY more to discover!
CRABTREE FALLS TRAIL – George Washington National Forest The highest vertical-drop waterfall east of the Mississippi sits within the George Washington National Forest. Crabtree Falls is one of those attractions you have to see to believe. Spanning three miles, the trail is perfect for the novice and experienced hiker, and everything in between. Five cascading falls run through the trail, as well as several smaller ones that fall at a total distance of 1,200 feet. Moving along from the first fall on the trail, hikers can continue on to find the upper falls, which offer incredible views of the Crabtree Creek Falls, Tye River Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains. TRAIL MAP
DARK HOLLOW FALLS – Shenandoah National Park Besides Crabtree Falls, these falls are probably going to be one of your most accessible. The Dark Hollow Trail is a little steep in places, but the 1.4-mile trek to Dark Hollow Falls is well worth the trip. The broad path is well maintained as it leads the visitor over the edge of the main ridge along the stream course. At the height of the spring runoff, these falls are an impressive site as water cascades 70 feet down the side of the mountain. TRAIL MAP
GREAT FALLS NATIONAL PARK As part of the “Eight Natural Wonders of Virginia,” Great Falls is just 15 minutes outside Washington, D.C. Fifteen miles of trails run through the park and offer waterfalls that are not for the faint of heart. The waterfalls, reaching a total of 76 feet, are rated Class 5-6 Whitewater according to the International Scale of River Difficulty. Kayakers and boaters have not attempted to whitewater the falls since the 1960s. TRAIL MAP
APPLE ORCHARD FALLS – Blue Ridge Parkway Are you looking for a hike with lots of streams? If so, this is a hike you should do, and is one of the most popular hikes in the Jefferson National Forest. You will either be right next to streams or within sight of a stream for about 90 percent of this hike. The highlight of the trail is the 200-foot Apple Orchard Falls with a very nice viewing area constructed by the Forest Service in 2000. TRAIL MAP
CASCADES NATIONAL RECREATION TRAIL – George Washington & Jefferson National Forests Situated in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Cascades is one of the most popular outdoor recreation spots in southwest Virginia. It features shady picnic spots, a native trout stream, and a 4-mile scenic loop trail. The main attraction is the scenic 66-foot Cascade Falls, a dramatic waterfall located two miles from the parking area. A natural pool at the base of the falls provides a chilly reprieve from the heat of a summer day. TRAIL MAP
DEVIL’S FORK LOOP TRAIL – Jefferson National Forest The Devil’s Fork Loop Trail provides an impressively beautiful route through an old-growth hemlock and rhododendron forest. The trail’s main attraction is Devil’s Bathtub, located just 1.5 miles from the start. The rushing water of Devil’s Fork shoots out of the soft sandstone and swirls quickly through this stone luge, plummeting into a beautiful pool of blue-green water. Another trail highlight, shortly after Devil’s Bathtub, is the 50-foot waterfall at the mouth of Corder Hollow.
WHITEOAK CANYON – Shenandoah National Park Another wildly popular Shenandoah National Park trail is this one. Why so popular? Six waterfalls reward your effort! The falls range from 35 to 86 feet and feature swimming holes at the bottom of each. Awesome place to propose? Yes. Awesome place to skinny dip? Not so much. Hike in one mile for the lower falls or on up another two miles (and steeper grade) to the upper falls. TRAIL MAP
BLUE SUCK FALLS TRAIL – Douthat State Park This trail at Douthat State Park is a three-mile moderate to difficult multi-use trail that serves up a waterfall. As a side note, the term ‘suck’ is an Appalachian term for a whirlpool at the base of the falls. TRAIL MAP
WHITE ROCK FALLS TRAIL – Blue Ridge Parkway A 2.5-mile moderate hike, the highlight is the impressive gorge, which has a waterfall and a natural wading pool. The name White Rock came from the abundant quartz rock found in the area. TRAIL MAP
SOUTH RIVER FALLS – Shenandoah National Park This 4.4 mile hike leads you along the South River to an impressive waterfall that plunges deep into a canyon. When the park has experienced lots of rain, this waterfall hike is one of the nicest Shenandoah has to offer. TRAIL MAP
For more travel inspiration this summer, check out some of Virginia’s lesser known waterfalls.
* Last updated March 24, 2015.