Crabtree Falls observation site is just under an hour drive from Afton, Virginia, and is a popular attraction offering a beautiful set of waterfalls and a hike that takes you to the top. Fun fact: Crabtree Falls are the tallest falls east of the Mississippi. We visited for the first time over the weekend. It was a misty and crisp day – perfect weather for a hike.
Don’t forget to pay for your parking pass on your way in! But it works best when placed inside your vehicle. Josh is illustrating what not to do with your parking pass:
After we ate a small picnic lunch, we were ready to see the falls and start the hike to the top. It’s only a short distance to the bottom of the falls, which even at this time of year had a most impressive show of water.
The climb to the top of the falls had lots of stairs and switchbacks. If you visit in the fall, keep in mind there are some steeper portions and rocky areas that can be slick (especially with fallen leaves lining the path). Much of the trail is lined with railings, though, and overview areas are well fenced, also.
The total hike to the top was 1.7 miles. Sounds short, but the grade was enough to tire me out. The climb followed the water for most of the way, and every view of the falls was pretty.
I can’t actually remember how long it took us to get to the top, but I was excited when I reached the 1.7 mile post. On a clear day, the view of the valley and the mountains must be beautiful, but since we visited on a misty day, our view was of the fog. Still fun, though! I look forward to doing this hike during other times of the year to see how the waterfalls and the views change (there’s a lot of rhododendron – must be very pretty when in bloom).
For more details on hiking Crabtree Falls, visit Hiking Upwards’ overview. Also, if you want to add more adventure to your trip, you can catch the Blue Ridge Parkway and drive north back to Afton – there are plenty of overlooks and other hikes.