Hikes to Virginia Waterfalls

by Stefanie Hatcher | Posted: May 15, 2014 | Updated: Nov 14, 2019

Comments: 36 Comments

These 10 Virginia trails lead to lovely waterfalls. Experience them best after a rain, and also know there are PLENTY more to discover! Virginia’s mountains are riddled with waterfalls. Enjoy!

CRABTREE FALLS TRAIL – George Washington National ForestCrabtree Falls

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

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

DARK HOLLOW FALLS – Shenandoah National Park

Dark Hollow Falls

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


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


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 – Jefferson National Forest

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 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

Cascade Falls and Trail

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

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

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.


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Ken says:

I have been to Crab tree falls several times ….love this spot ….great trails and overlooks some are slightly challenging but nothing too difficult for good day of hiking ….I have never been when it was over crowded but it is better to me to start from the bottom and go up so look for lower falls access

Chris A says:

I am trying to plan a short trip with a nice 2 mile hike with a beautiful view with my family (two young kids).
I am also looking for a close by town to do other fun safe things for the family. I live in MD so any suggestions can turn into months of different trip as well.
Does anyone have any good/ cheap low $) ideas they might pass along?

Josie Whittaker says:

CrAbtree falls in Nelson county, va. The falls are beautiful. Just down the road a short distance is craBtree falls camp ground. They have camp sites and rustic cabins.the the river winds by the. campground. Very relaxong

Libby carter says:

Were are they located

G says:

Please don’t come to the Cascades on a weekend unless you enjoy sharing with 600 other folks. EXTREMELY CROWDED!