What is it about waterfalls that are so completely captivating? The air is almost magical, inviting visitors to empty every thought and just let go! It’s no wonder we love them so much.
While there are many places to go in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia to enjoy a waterfall hike, there are a few that really stand out, give you pause, and two even offer a very cool dip in a mountain pool!
Here are the three that we dearly love.
These falls are the highest vertical drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Located in Nelson County, VA, it’s just six miles off of the Blue Ridge Parkway near milepost 27.
Crabtree Falls isn’t just one waterfall but a series of five major falls plus a number of smaller ones with a total distance of 1200 feet. You can choose to hike the whole distance of almost five miles or just part of it.
The first overlook is easy enough; it’s just a few hundred feet from the upper parking lot. It’s a gentle, paved trail that’s great for all ages and abilities.
For the more adventuresome, you can continue on and hike the 2 1/2 mile trail to four other overlooks. You’ll find spectacular views of the entire Falls as well as the beautiful vistas of the Tye River Valley.
Continuing on with the upper falls, you’ll follow a creek for another 1.2 miles to the Crabtree parking lot.
No matter how much of Crab Tree Falls you choose to hike, at almost every turn you’ll be rewarded with the natural beauty of waterfalls.
Crabtree Falls is also pet-friendly but you must keep Fido on a leash!
Jones Run Falls
It’s no wonder that Jones Run Falls is one of the most popular waterfall hikes in the southern section of the Shenandoah National Park. It’s beautiful and fairly easy to hike with a round trip total of 3.4 miles with a climb of 915 feet. And it’s gradual, which may make it easier for you.
There are several waterfalls along Jones Run. Plus, two more large falls on Doyles River. You’ll even find some swimming holes if you’re prepared to plunge into mountain cold water!
Hikers will enjoy the shady trail, travel through young forests, and cross creeks. The final waterfall is the real jewel with a cascade of 42 feet. Surrounded by bushes, rocks, and moss, this waterfall destination is soothing and peaceful!
White Rock Falls
Ready for some spectacular waterfalls? You’ll find them at White Rock Falls as well as a small swimming hole to cool off!
Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, near milepost 19, park in The Slacks Overlook parking lot. Cross the road and head left for about 60 yards to the mouth of the trail. A word of caution: There aren’t any markings along the road to indicate that it’s there.
The trail to the falls is 2.5 miles and is moderately difficult. Once on the trail, follow the yellow markers. At one point, you’ll head up to some rock outcroppings. This is a great place to take pictures!
Keep going as the trail loops around cliffs. At the end of the trail is the bottom of the main falls. There is another fall on the left that can range from just a trickle to a full stream. It just depends on the time of year and the weather.
Smaller falls are below the main one if you’d like to see those as well. This hike is a very popular one because of the beauty. Later in the summer, you can expect to see wild blueberries that almost overtake the trail.
Be sure to look for a side trail, too, which is easy to miss, but leads to one of the best views of the falls!
Get more information about this waterfall hike as well as others in the area at the Rockfish Gap Tourist Information Center, 130 Afton Circle, Afton, VA
Pack A Picnic Lunch for Your Waterfall Hike
Ask us to prepare a picnic lunch for you before you head out. You’ll be glad you did. Hiking really works up an appetite!