by Bill and Mary Burnham (Falcon Guides)
© 2013 Bill and Mary Burnham/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
This review is for the hike from the parking area on the Blue Ridge Parkway to the falls. (The rest of the loop will come later) Actually trails.com doesn't say much about the falls, but if you take the mine bank trail down to St. Mary's Trail and to the falls it's a great hike, and the reward is even better. We found there is actually an easier route to take from St. Mary's Road where there is another parking area. Nevertheless, we didn't really know what our trip was going to entail, we had actually planned on doing the whole loop with just the short out and back to the falls. As you take the trail down, you will pass an old mine which is worth checking out. Follow the trail around the left of that and it continues down the mountain. When we got to the falls, the crystal clear water steep rocks and a jump from the ledge made us want to stay around a bit. It was only in the 70's, and the water was much colder than that. We decided to go find a campsite and come back for more in the morning. We found a site along with others that had fellow campers in them along the St Mary's trail, about a mile back from the falls. This trip was well worth just making it a short hike and sticking around the falls for a while. I can't wait to go back in the spring, especially when it's warmer. This winter we will probably try more of St Mary's Wilderness... so far it's been great.
This is a very pretty trail, the map directions are pretty much spot on. The climb to Green Pond will bring you to your knees, however, the view on the way up and then again on 162A are absolutely amazing.
P.S. One thing I should have mentioned is that green pond is really more like "green sludge." You will need some sort of walter filtration system and purification drops to be safe. (I carry a katadyn pro couple with MSR sweetwater drops, so far I'm still kickin!)
Due to a hurricane in recent years, much of the trail has been washed out or re-routed, and can be difficult to follow if you are coming in from road 41. However, I was pleased with the overall experience and only saw a few people on the trail over a 2 day period.
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