Waterfalls of the Blue Ridge A Hiking Guide to the Cascades of the Blue Ridge Mountains  by Nicole Blouin, Steve Bordonaro, & Marilou Wier Bordonaro

Waterfalls of the Blue Ridge: A Hiking Guide to the Cascades of the Blue Ridge Mountains Guide Book

by Nicole Blouin, Steve Bordonaro, & Marilou Wier Bordonaro (Menasha Ridge Press)
Waterfalls of the Blue Ridge A Hiking Guide to the Cascades of the Blue Ridge Mountains  by Nicole Blouin, Steve Bordonaro, & Marilou Wier Bordonaro
Waterfalls are magical places - places of solitude, of serenity, of subtle power. Surrounding these swirling drops you'll find lush summer oaks, resplendent autumn colors, shiny winter icicles, and abundant spring wildflowers. The thoroughly revised third edition of Waterfalls of the Blue Ridge shows you where to find these enchanting jewels. From the Smokies to Shenandoah National Park, follow the authors as they guide you to nearly 100 of the best waterfalls in the Blue Ridge. Some are a stone's throw from the road; others hide in the backcountry. Directions, hike distance and difficulty, and a brief history of the area accompanies each description. So get out of your chair and into the woods. And don't forget your camera; you'll want to capture the elusive beauty found at Waterfalls of the Blue Ridge.

© 2014 Nicole Blouin, Steve Bordonaro, and Marilou Wier Bordonaro/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Waterfalls of the Blue Ridge: A Hiking Guide to the Cascades of the Blue Ridge Mountains" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 90.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 90.

On the Blue Ridge Parkway stretch of the drive to Apple Orchard Falls, you will travel from the lowest point on the entire Parkway to the highest point on the Parkway in Virginia. The James River (elevation 668 feet) at milepost 63.7 is only 13 miles from milepost 76.7 (elevation 3,950 feet) near Apple Orchard Overlook.
Natural Bridge, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.5
This is perhaps the least-visited, trail-accessible waterfall in all of Shenandoah National Park. Enjoy the seclusion. Start on Skyline Drive, descending to North Fork Moormans River. Cruise along the scenic stream, with cascades and pools in a deep valley bordered by high ridges. Everywhere-you-look beauty overlays this gorge bordered by Pasture Fence Mountain on one side and the crest of the Blue Ridge on the other. Finally, climb along low-flow Big Branch, with its open watery bowls divided by rock slabs, where the stream flows in slide cascades.
Grottoes, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.6
Big Laurel Falls is a highlight of the greater Standing Indian Area and Southern Nantahala Wilderness Area. A high-quality campground makes for a great base to explore a well-marked and well-maintained trail system, the backbone of which is the Appalachian Trail. Big Laurel Falls is a fanning cataract set in a rock glen. We recommend viewing the falls in all seasons. It is one of those special places worth coming back to time and again.
Highlands, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
Previously, hikers heading to this falls found their way on old logging roads and skirted—ahem, perhaps even crossed—private property to reach this Nantahala National Forest aquatic gem. But the U.S. Forest Service realized the visual value of this cataract—and of forest users staying on public lands—and thus built the Big Shoals Trail, which takes you to 35-foot-high Big Shoals. It is a real tumbler, too, spilling over a rock cliff into an alluring sand-bordered pool.
Cashiers, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2
When hikers mention the Boone Fork Loop, 25-foot Boone Fork Falls rarely receives deserving accolades. Even though it is a pretty cascade, the falls are upstaged by a creek with the celebrated Boone name, a forest that was cut by one famous person and bought by another, and a hiking trail that is one of the best along the entire Blue Ridge Parkway.
Blowing Rock, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
Bridal Veil Falls, the first waterfall on the Little River within DuPont State Forest, requires a longer hike than Hooker, Triple, and High Falls, but it is worth the trip. From the Fawn Lake Access Area, pass the yellow gate next to the information board, reach the sign marking Reasonover Creek Trail, and go right, walking under the power lines. At the marked intersection, take a left on the wide Conservation Road. You will pass a green metal gate and the Shortcut Trail on the left. Then walk parallel to an old airport runway and hangar, and finally pass Camp Summit Road, a house, and Lake Julia Road, all on the right. Take a left on Bridal Veil Falls Road, passing a barn on the left. The gravel road ends, but continue straight ahead on the 0.1-mile trail through pine trees toward the falls.
Cedar Mountain, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
This waterfall, visible from the road, makes its splash where the headwaters of the West Fork Pigeon River and Bubbling Springs Branch meet. The cataract, located at 4,800 feet, exudes high country splendor. It flows about 25 feet in two stages, flanked by spruce trees, yellow birches, and other vegetation that grows only on the highest mantles of the Southern Appalachians. Born on the slopes of 6,000-plus-foot Mount Hardy, astride the Blue Ridge Parkway, Bubbling Springs Branch dashes down the north slope of the Blue Ridge, culminating in a two-tiered frothy, stony drop into a rock-lined plunge pool.
Brevard, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.2
Cascade Falls is the centerpiece of a nicely developed Jefferson National Forest day-use area near the town of Pembroke. It is a short drive from the town to the recreation site, with its patrolled parking, picnic area, restrooms, and trailhead nestled in a green hollow. Old stone fences from pre–national forest days indicate that the site was once a farm.
Pembroke, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
“Water . . . like liquid lace from overhead . . . dashes past to swirl and slide downward in an abandon of spray and foam ripples.” The quote is from a plaque near the top of the Cascades, and it is an accurate description because the narrow, 50-foot waterfall rolls and rushes past you, rather than falling at your feet. The waters from Falls Creek are bound for the ocean at Winyah Bay, South Carolina, after flowing into the Yadkin River, which in turn flows into the Pee Dee River.
Roaring Gap, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2
Access to Catawba Falls has been an issue for a long time, but now it has been resolved, and this time for good. Owned by the Pisgah National Forest since 1989, the falls could not be legally accessed because it was encircled by private property. Then the Foothills Conservancy acquired a critical tract connecting to the falls and transferred it over to the Pisgah National Forest. Now we can hike to the falls in complete confidence.
Old Fort, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.8
This hike leads you into rugged upper Cedar Run Canyon. The trail down to the main falls is steep. However, aquatic rewards are many along the way—you pass innumerable cascades spilling down the narrow, boulderladen gorge, a wild place deserving of national park protection. Your trip to the cascades will be slow, because you will need to watch your footing and stop often to admire the scenery. Note: This hike can be busy on warmweather weekends.
Shenandoah National Park, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.4
This Great Smoky Mountains National Park waterfall hike leads from Smokemont Campground, open year-round. The trek travels along Bradley Fork, former home to pioneers eking out a living on streamside flats. The creek displays superlative mountain stream scenery. You will then turn up a tributary—Chasteen Creek—to find a waterfall waiting. The entire walk is bathed in national park–level scenery. The mostly wide and gentle graded trail is good for families, though horses can muck up flat spots along Chasteen Creek.
Cherokee, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
The New River Trail, a railroad grade–turned–trail, leads you to this wide cascade. New River Trail State Park is Virginia’s longest park, extending more than 57 miles along a former rail bed. The rail-trail is the primary attraction, as it courses along a cinder bed and over trestles that span Chestnut Creek and the New River. Bicyclers are the primary users, though equestrians and hikers will travel portions of the path. The trail demonstrates how, in our modern era, we can preserve scenic natural areas in the midst of human habitation.
Fries, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.6
Comers Creek Falls is well visited due to its great location astride the Appalachian Trail. Virginia has the most Appalachian Trail miles of any state—540, give or take. Comers Creek Falls is in southwest Virginia, lying within the confines of Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. The Comers Creek Falls Trail leaves the Smyth–Grayson County line and drops down into the steep valley of Comers Creek past the Iron Mountain Trail (the recreation area’s other long-distance hiking trail, in addition to the AT) to intersect the Appalachian Trail. To access the actual falls, hikers must continue on the AT for 0.2 mile.
Troutdale, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2
Connestee Falls is often referred to as a double, or twin, falls. Actually, it is a three-tiered falls joined at its base by Batson Creek Falls, a separate cataract that enhances the appeal of a visit to Connestee Falls. The two cascades can be viewed together from a boardwalk situated astride the top of Connestee Falls, open to the public. The Carolina Mountain Conservancy purchased the land around the falls. Today, we view the two falls from the top looking down. Remain on the boardwalk.
Brevard, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.1
Courthouse Falls is also called Coon Dog Falls. While on the hunt, a hound was swept away by the current and inadvertently took the plunge. Shockingly, this cataract was successfully descended by daredevil kayakers who, like the lucky hound, lived to bark about it. Flowing through the Balsam Grove area of Pisgah National Forest, Courthouse Creek is a major tributary of the North Fork of the French Broad River. Courthouse Creek charges through Summey Cove, picking up speed as the gradient increases.
Rosman, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.8
Cove Creek Falls lies within the waterfall-rich upper Davidson River Valley. A visit to the falls is a must for campers staying at Cove Creek Group Camp, located in the flats below the falls. Draining the south side of the Blue Ridge, Cove Creek picks up tributaries starting nearly a mile high and then gathers momentum to its climactic drop. Combine Cove Creek’s flow with a resistant stone outcrop and you find an impressive long and wide cascade. The hike is just right—long enough to get a little exercise but not so long as to become work.
Canton, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.2
Crabtree Falls is on Crabtree Creek, accessed by Crabtree Falls Trail, in Crabtree Meadows. There’s no mystery behind the origin of its name: Flowering crab trees were once plentiful, growing wild in the fields. Unfortunately, that was in the old days when, like the many apple orchards in the area, they were maintained and cared for. Only a few scattered trees remain, but each May, they announce themselves with attractive pink blooms.
Grassy Creek, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.5
Crabtree Falls might be the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi, depending on how you qualify a waterfall, but Crabtree Falls is doubtless the highest waterfall in Virginia. Crabtree Falls is actually a name given to five major waterfalls (and several smaller ones) on Crabtree Creek, which flows into Tye River. Within 0.5 mile, the creek drops 1,200 feet, including one vertical drop of 500 feet.
Vesuvius, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3
This loop hike is the best way to bag both Dark Hollow Falls and Rose River Falls. Most visitors reach Dark Hollow Falls via Skyline Drive. You will begin your trek on Rose River Fire Road, and gently descend to reach the lower Dark Hollow Falls Trail. Make the worthwhile 0.2-mile ascent to reach Dark Hollow Falls. Next, follow the Rose River Loop Trail downstream along Hogcamp Branch, passing numerous cascades along what is arguably the prettiest stream in Shenandoah National Park. Bridge Hogcamp Branch, and then pass the tailings of an old copper mine. Beyond here, the hike ascends the upper Rose River, passing Rose River Falls before returning to the trailhead.
Luray, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4