Summary: From the west side of the parking lot, turn right near the sign. The trail begins to descend immediately through rhododendrons, hemlock, and striped maple, opening to views of the cascades (Fallingwater Creek) and surrounding terrain. The path is quite steep in areas but stone steps are provided to lessen the impact. Several benches are also provided along the way. A number of fairly easy creek crossings are required, so use care on potentially slippery rocks. Upon reaching the bottom of the trail, take a sturdy bridge over the creek and ascend back to the lot on the remainder of the trail.
The "falls" are very nice but I wouldn't consider them spectacular. Given the length of the cascades, photographic options are also somewhat difficult. But this trail is worth the effort for more than a look at the cascades. The sweeping scenic views of the surrounding area are beautiful and definitely add to the total experience.
Trailhead: The trailhead is located near the Peaks of Otter at the Fallingwater Cascades Overlook parking area, Milepost 83.1 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take the Parkway north from either it's junction with US220 or US460, both near Roanoke, VA; or south from the junction of US501 near Glasgow, VA. Another option is to take VA43 from Interstate 81 (southbound exit 167 or northbound exit 162 via US11). Head west on VA43 to the Parkway, then north on the Parkway to the parking area. The trail begins and ends at the parking area, follow the signs. (Lat:37.47289 Lon:-79.5815)
Trail Guides for Fallingwater Cascades Loop:
The Trails of Virginia
by Allen De Hart (UNC Press)
Walking The Blue Ridge
by Leonard M. Adkins (UNC Press)
Waterfalls of Virginia and West Virginia
by Kevin Adams (Menasha Ridge Press)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: Jefferson National Forest, Glenwood Ranger District, 540-291-2188
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Craig Wicks. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 2 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Viewer on 3/17/2016
New personal favorite....black bear encounter!!
Reviewed by chasva on 11/13/2013
we went in late October, after a hard frost and the leaves were dropping like rain.. Awesome trail and well maintained
Reviewed by David H on 8/29/2010
I actually worked on this Trail when it was upgraded in 1978. We built the first bridge at the bottom, and I personally dug the footers for the top bridge. My initials are still on the lower bridge. We carried all of the material in on that trail. I love that place.
Reviewed by Cheryl on 7/20/2010
Nice, easy hike. I'm sure the flow of the cascades is almost magical after a rainy spell, but there was a much appreciated peaceful, cool feeling on a hot July day with the water running slowly. Saw a ringneck snake, snail, lots of spiders, worms, millipedes and butterflies.
Reviewed by Eba on 6/14/2009
Perfect short hike to falls. Nature's "air conditioner" felt at bottom pool. Excellent path, bridge and stairs. Saw several snakes and a large bear on way out.
Reviewed by garry on 4/13/2007
It was a very enjoyable hike, my buddy and I thouroughly enjoyed ourselves. The falls were more long than steep, but it not a very demanding hike, and was an enjoyable place for lunch.
Reviewed by Abe on 7/7/2006
A rather short wooded hike, but filled with mini-waterfalls of 2-5 feet and a couple of ones that are in the 20-45 ft range. Went the day after it rained so the path was a little damp, but the waterfalls were excellent.
Reviewed by Chandler on 4/28/2006
I enjoyed Fallingwater Cascades. The trail is easy to find, right off the Blue Ridge Parkway, near the Flat Top parking area. The trail itself is very well maintained, with gravel like rocks on most of the trail and plenty of benches to sit and enjoy the views. The trail has several areas where an adventurous (or foolish) person can go and see the falls from close up and maybe snap a few pictures. The only drawback is that if you decide to take the loop trail, the ascent back to the parking area is moderately strenuous because there are no switchbacks to speak of. Overall, I enjoyed this hike and would recommend it to anyone who wants to see a pretty waterfall in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
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