How would you like to have a beautiful 30ft waterfall all to yourself? Hidden off the Falls Ridge trail on an unofficial side trail, this beautiful waterfall is also unusual as it crashes into rocks next to a 60ft cliff instead of into a pool. In the summer standing under the falls is a great way to cool down on this hike. This circuit also has several great views along the Stack Rock Trail and North Mountain Ridge of Big Schloss and the valley below, as well as excellent car camping on FR252 along Lauren Run.
So why is the solitude so high on such a beautiful waterfall hike? There are a couple of reasons. 1. This hike is on the southern end of the Great North Mountain hiking area and away from the more popular Wolf Gap hikes. 2. FR252 is only open from April 1 - May 21 and Aug 1 - Dec 31. Although the hike and circuit can still be done when FR252 is closed by parking at the end of VA701/Dellinger Gap Rd. on the lower terminus of the yellow blazed Falls Ridge Trail. This will add 1 mile to the total hike length for 7.9 miles.
Mile 1.8 - Pass around the closed gate and continue along FR252 on the blue blazed trail for 0.1 miles to the intersection where the yellow blazed Falls Ridge Trail crosses the road.
Mile 1.9 - Turn right uphill on the yellow blazed Falls Ridge Trail. The trail becomes increasingly more steep for the first 0.6 miles to the intersection of the unofficial side trail to the Falls Run waterfall.
Mile 2.5 - Look for a small rock cairn marking the side trail, however it is well worn and hard to miss. Turn left on the side trail that passes through Mountain Laurel. At this point the trail is intermittently marked with faint colored blazes. In 0.16 miles the trail will split.
Mile 2.8 - Turn left downhill (continuing straight will take you to the upper section of Falls Run). This section of the side trail is intermittently red blazed, but is harder to follow than the previous section. As you get closer to the run, the trail falls pass through a section of rhododendron then arrives at the waterfall and 60ft cliff. Pass carefully over the boulders down to the foot of the waterfall.
Mile 3.1 - Return back to the yellow blazed Falls Ridge Trail. Be cautious on the return after passing back through the rhoterdendrum. The trail is very faint and hard to follow.
Mile 3.9 - Turn left uphill on the yellow blazed Falls Ridge Trail. The Falls Ridge Trail will pass through another stand of Mountain Laurel before ending at the ridge and intersection of the North Mountain Trail.
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Topo Hike Map (PDF)
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Reviews For The Falls Ridge Hike (5 Most Recent)
We started out where the Falls Ridge Trails connects to 701, which was not at all intuitive to locate since the trailhead is nestled between a private dirt road, a driveway, and tracts of private property and buried in a sea of red-blazed "bearing trees". There is a pull-off on the right side as you approach the trailhead that apparently serves as parking (we didn't get towed or left any nasty messages anyway), but from there you have to walk right up what appears to be a private home's driveway. The yellow blazes are very faded, but we found one and were on our way.
The topo map is no lie, Falls Ridge Trail from 701 is entirely uphill, and until you are just past the side trail for the falls, it's very steep. However, the trail is well maintained and with the leaves mostly off of the trees, looking back over your shoulder now and again afforded some great views! The side trail to the falls IS blazed, but the blazes are faded in both directions and the trail was easy to lose in all of the fallen leaves. There are plenty of well-worn games trails to add some additional confusion.
The falls are well worth the effort to get to them from our starting point, tucked in their own little valley. Absolutely beautiful! Just be very careful navigating the rocks down to the falls. Not only are they slick within the radius of the spray of the falls, but the leaf cover made even the dry areas treacherous as you could not see cracks and holes between the rocks. We also took some time to climb up to the top of the falls, where you'll find a small rocky outcrop with a really nice view down the valley. Somewhere along the falls trail I did pick up a deer tick, which I found when we got back to the intersection with Falls Ridge Trail.
Falls Ridge Trail and Stack Rock Trail are both bordered heavily in mountain laurel, so would really like to come back in late spring to see them all in bloom! Stack Rock Trail has some really nice views with the foliage off of the trees as well, but is a very steep descent and was treacherous in the fallen leaves, which were a little more than ankle deep in some sections and were primarily oak and extremely slippery (and it was dry, so damp conditions would likely make it even worse). We saw several deer hunters along Forest Road, but otherwise encountered no people anywhere along the trails. There were also a few areas with some nice southeastern valley views from Forestry Road.
The difficulty rating is accurate. You definitely get a work out doing this loop, but we found it worth the effort and hope to return!
Date of Hike: Sunday, June 14, 2015
My husband and I hiked this one starting in the afternoon. It is exhausting. You climb and climb and climb and then climb some more. It was a great relief to get to the waterfall, and we really enjoyed our time there alone. However, by the time you climb your way out of there back to the main trail the refreshment of the waterfall has already worn off. You have a lot more climbing to do once you get back to the main trail. You do eventually go downhill. What a relief! The waterfall was nice, but this was definitely a one-time only trail. A better option might be to hike to the waterfall, and then back to the starting point.
Date of Hike: Saturday, June 06, 2015
I hiked up to the water fall from the end of route 701 on the Falls Ridge Trail as an out and back.
The hike up is short but steep. The Mtn Laural was blooming and the cliff and waterfall are not to be missed!
After all the rain last week I think I went at a great time for water flows. If nothing else go check out the waterfall! Coming back from the waterfall the trail is a little tricky but I left stick X's to mark the correct way back out/up. Very slick rocks approaching the fall under the cliff when I was there.https://www.facebook.com/matt.pitzer.58/videos/vb.1099339041/10206096665671202/?type=2&theater