Hikes to Virginia Waterfalls

by Stefanie Hatcher | Posted: May 15, 2014 | Updated: Apr 11, 2017

Comments: 35 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 Forest

Crabtree 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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katt says:

Ty very interesting and beautiful

Earl Norris says:

Many of the beautiful scenic views in Virgina, the Appalachian Trail, the Blue Ridge Parkway, National Forests, and even The Shenandoah National Park are now threatened by Natural Gas companies and The Federal Energy “Regulatory” Commission. These are nearly 4 ft. in diameter transmission lines with a very high volume of natural gas (methane) at a very high pressure. The gas comes from the fracking wells in WV, PA, and OH. The excavation area to install these is 150 ft. wide, much of which will remain as a permanent scar. Oh yeah, and sometimes these lines explode, and/or leak. Investigate, and help fight for Virginia’s beauty, culture, and life-supporting streams and rivers. There are bound to be more in the future, but the current threats are The Atlantic Pipeline, and The Mountain Valley Pipeline.

JBS says:

It is good to be informed about these kinds of construction.
An avid hiker, and co-overseer on an Appalachian spur-trail, I care that these places be preserved and protected.
I think it would be best to find ways to work with those who determine how those lines are laid to effect their friendliest couching in the environment, rather than fighting them, possible “winning”, and causing possibly worse consequences in other parts, dependence on foreign oil, for one…

Kelly says:

A map showing where these locales are in the state would be great!!

Tri says:

Great list, but I wish there were some actual pictures of all of the falls.

Jim says:

Virginia may be for lovers, but Pennsylvania has “Bird in Hand” and “Intercourse”!!!!!!! LOL

Casey Higgins says:

If I had a nickel, Jim. 🙂

bert says:

Are there any meet up groups that go to these?

jeanine says:

Valley Hikers often does some of these

Douglas says:

If you are looking for a great place to stay when visiting White oak Canyon or Old Rag Mountain you should really check out the Cabins at Rose River Farm. http://www.roseriverfarm.com/accommodations.html

Tia H says:

Or Graves Mountain Lodge
My family’s gone there every 4th of July, Mother’s Day, Apple Harvest Festival, etc for nearly 4 decades….

Stephen says:

Umm… people kayak Great Falls ALL THE TIME.

LetsGoCaps says:

I’ve seen it too

mel says:

Yeah, there are kayaks on Great Falls all the time!! There are several dwarfs a year there too, but mostly due to idiots trying to swim in the river.

mel says:

Deaths, not dwarfs. Autocorrect is not my friend

Douglas Davis says:

You nead to see the waterfall in New Castle Va.

barb says:

DEVIL’S FORK LOOP TRAIL – I don’t believe that this in Shenandoah National Park. It’s to far south and west of SNP.