Apple Orchard Falls Trail

Jefferson National Forest, Virginia

Elevation Gain2,539ft
Trailhead Elevation1,470ft
Elevation Min/Max1467/3314ft
Elevation Start/End1470/1470ft

Apple Orchard Falls Trail

Apple Orchard Falls Trail is a hiking trail in Botetourt County, Virginia. It is within Jefferson National Forest. It is 3.1 miles long and begins at 1,470 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 6.4 miles with a total elevation gain of 2,539 feet.

Apple Orchard Falls Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Leave the Blue Ridge Parkway at Sunset Fields and descend Apple Orchard Mountain to tall and varied Apple Orchard Falls. From there, loop via the Cornelius Creek Trail to meet the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). A high-country ramble on the slope of Apple Orchard Mountain leads you back to the parkway."

"Leave the Blue Ridge Parkway at Sunset Fields, and descend Apple Orchard Mountain to tall and varied Apple Orchard Falls. From there, loop via the Cornelius Creek Trail to meet the Appalachian Trail. A high-country ramble on the slope of Apple Orchard Mountain leads you back to the parkway."

"The Forest Service is justly proud of this waterfall circuit that features two scenic, well-maintained National Recreation Trails and spectacular Apple Orchard Falls. This figure- eight trail system explores a noteworthy north-facing watershed of old-growth forest below the highest peak in this part of the Blue Ridge.

It’s a best-kept secret for backpackers and birders. Neotropical songbirds such as the ovenbird, red-eyed vireo, and scarlet tanager can be seen and heard here. (The rare Peaks of Otter salamander is also a resident.) In the early 1990s the Forest Service designated 1,825 acres as a Special Management Area; the trails were upgraded and the focus shifted away from potential timber harvesting to enhancing recreation and wildlife."

"This hike, past the 200-foot cascade of Apple Orchard Falls, is justifiably one of the most popular in Jefferson National Forest.

On a warm summer’s day, catch the very striking Apple Orchard Falls and then stroll down the beautiful and verdant Cornelius Creek, which also offers an especially inviting swimming hole or two. At the trailhead, orient yourself by looking to up the trails and away from the road. The trail to the left is Apple Orchard Falls Trail, while the one coming more directly down the mountain, to the right, is Cornelius Creek Trail."

"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."

"Seek this one out if you're driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. Like all Blue Ridge Parkway area trails, this one was well marked. Just before the one-mile mark, you cross a wooden bridge, and if you look upstream, you'll find your first surprise; a drop of 8-10 feet over a mossy boulder in the quiet of the woods.

As you get closer to the falls, the trail will steepen dramatically. There's some impressive bridge/deck work that was constructed at the base of the falls, so take advantage of it and sit for a while."

Apple Orchard Falls Trail Reviews

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The waterfalls are beautiful and the hike is honestly moderate, but this trail is best hiked in spring. Don't miss the main waterfalls--the upper falls are beautiful, but be sure to continue down the wooden steps. Its a good idea to do this hike early to beat the crowds.
Great trip with trails that are very well maintained. With the lack of rain this summer the falls weren't really flowing. Will need to return in early Spring to enjoy all the falls have to offer.
Started at the the lower trailhead off FSR 59 and proceeded on Cornelius Creek trail for 2.3 miles where you take a hard left. It had just rained and the trail along the creek was beautiful with a gradual elevation grade and several easy creek crossing. Taking a break just before the left at the top of the trail is a good idea because the next section is a little steeper. Once you reach the the hard right the trail turns into the logging road where it's grassy and wide with a relaxed hike to the a marked intersection to the Falls on the left, it's all downhill now. Great view of the falls and some large rock formations. It took 4 1/2 hours with a lunch break.
To date, this has been one of our favorite trails. A nice easy going path that follows the stream all the way up to the falls. Several places to stop and take pictures, and we also enjoyed that the trail is a little more open than some others. Although you do not get the peak view of the valley or mountain line, the falls are quite an enjoyable climax to the trail. We will definitely do this one again, and bring our daughters ( 8&10) along. Lots for them to look at and can get close to the stream w/out any real hazards.
Hiked circuit via Cornelius Creek Trail, Old Logging Road and Apple Orchard Trail return to Trailhead on FSR 59. Excellent views of creek, falls and the Blue Ridge. Time: 4.25 hours including 15 minute stop at falls. Difficulty: Moderate

Apple Orchard Falls Trail Photos

Trail Information

Jefferson National Forest
Nearby City
Jefferson National Forest
George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Glenwood & Pedlar Ranger Districts (<a href=""></a>; 540-291-2188)
George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Glenwood–Pedlar Ranger District: 540-291-2188, <a href=" "> </a>
George Washington National Forest
George Washington National Forest, Glenwood-Pedlar Ranger District, 27 Ranger Lane, Natural Bridge Station, VA 24579; 540-291-2188, <a href=" "> </a>
The Blue Ridge Parkway 199 Hemphill Knob Road Asheville, NC 28803-8686 (828) 271-4779 (828) 298-0398
USDA Forest Service, (888)265-0019, <a href=""></a>. Forest Supervisor's Office 5162 Valleypointe Parkway, Roanoke 24019
Local Contacts

DeLorme, Virginia Atlas and Gazetteer: page 53, D6
National Geographic #789, Lexington/Blue Ridge Mountains; USGS Arnold Valley
Trails Illustrated #789 Lexington/Blue Ridge Mountains; Appalachian Trail Conservancy Central VA Maps 1 and 2; USGS Arnold Valley
Trails Illustrated: Lexington/Blue Ridge Mountains, George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Map 789 (National Geographic)
USGS Arnold Valley; no Parkway map available
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018