Waterfalls on Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia

Waterfalls on Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
The Blue Ridge Parkway is the single most-visited outdoor destination in the United States. The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests provide much of the setting for the safe, leisurely drive through the beautiful Virginia leg of the byway.

The Shenandoah National Park is the gateway to the parkway and home to several impressive waterfalls. A dozen more beautiful Virginia falls are in the Waynesboro, Glasgow and Alleghany Highlands areas. River trails throughout these areas allow the outdoor adventurer to hike, climb and explore.

Shenandoah National Park

Overall Run Falls (mile 21.1) is an impressive 93 feet (tallest in the park) and requires a 6.5-mile round-trip hike. It is most beautiful in the early spring when water levels are highest.

Whiteoak Canyon Falls (mile 42.6) is a formation of six distinct falls ranging from 35 to 86 feet. To see them all requires a strenuous 7.2-mile round-trip hike. The area is dominated by the namesake White Oak trees, which provide excellent shade.

Cedar Run Falls (mile 45.6) is 34 feet tall and a difficult 3.4-mile hike. The difficulty of the narrow, rocky trail leaves this spot far more secluded than others in the area.

Rose River Falls (mile 49.4) is 67 feet and a 2.6-mile round-trip hike. This loop features rich growth that is most beautiful in the mid-spring and early fall.

Dark Hollow Falls (mile 50.7) is 70 feet and a simple 1.4-mile round-trip hike. The trail is alongside the stream, and is excellent for bird watching.

Lewis Falls (mile 51.4) is 81 feet and a simple 1.9-mile round-trip hike. Two separate streams converge on rock halfway down, and then fan out, for a powerful effect.

South River Falls (mile 62.8) is 83 feet and a 3.3-mile round-trip hike to overlook the falls. There is also a steep, rough extension to the trail that reaches the bottom of the gorge for a view from below.

Doyles River Falls (mile 81.1) is 63 feet and a simple 2.9-mile round-trip hike. This steep cascade has a pool below surrounded by wildflowers.

Jones Run Falls (mile 84.1) is 42 feet and a 3.6-mile round-trip hike. Rock faces on both sides are encrusted with moss and unusually lush vegetation growth, providing a tropical appearance.


Waynesboro Area

White Rock Falls (parkway milepost 19.9, Slack's Overview) requires a moderately difficult 1.8-mile round trip. To find the trail, cross the parkway from the Slack's Overview parking area and head north. Look for a wooden sign.

St. Mary's Waterfall is an easy 4.4-mile round-trip, with many more miles of trail available for more adventurous explorers.

Crabtree Falls is considered the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi, with a single vertical drop of 500 feet. It requires a moderately difficult 4-mile round-trip hike.

Wigwam Falls (Parkway milepost 34.4, Yankee Horse Ridge Parking Area) is an easy 0.4-mile loop. The trailhead is easy to spot from the parking area.

Glasgow Area

Station's Falls is easily accessible without hiking, but there are opportunities to explore other small cascades down the creek as it approaches Pedlar River.

Panther Falls requires a short, easy one-mile hike. Because of its easy accessibility, the foot traffic is greater than the falls would seem to merit.

Lace Falls requires an easy two-mile round trip hike. It is in the immediate vicinity of the Natural Bridge of Virginia, perhaps the state's most famous attraction.

Apple Orchard Falls (Parkway Milepost 78.4, Sunset Fields Overlook) requires a somewhat challenging 2.4-mile round-trip hike.

Fallingwater Cascades (Parkway Milepost 83.1, Fallingwater Cascades Overlook) is a moderately difficult 1.6-mile loop.

Alleghany Highlands Area

Stony Run Falls and Blue Suck Falls are part of Douthat State Park and are easily accessible. Though the falls are not terribly spectacular, the state park offers many additional trails and sites.

Falling Spring Falls is within a few hundred feet of parking and very easily accessible for children and the disabled. These falls were Thomas Jefferson's favorite, though the great freeway accessibility makes the spot somewhat less remote than it was in the 18th century. The direct drop is approximately 70 feet followed by another 30 feet of progressive cascades, with several rocky breaks at different heights, making for a spectacular and unusual view.


Article Written By Timothy Aldinger

Timothy Aldinger brings 20 years of experience as an instructional design consultant and corporate training strategist in the automotive, environmental, health and insurance industries. His professional writings have been published by Ford Motor Company, Chrysler Corporation, General Motors, Volkswagen, Toyota, Nissan and many other major corporations. Aldinger received his Bachelor of Arts in political theory from Michigan State University.

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