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Falls Ridge - Columbia Furnace, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
6.9 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
3.5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,745 ft
George Washington National Forest
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e.g.. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
Park on FR252 at the trailhead for the Stack Rock Trail. 38.89538, -78.74089
IMPORTANT: FR252 is only open from April 1 - May 21 and Aug 1 - Dec 31. To do this hike at any other time park at the end of VA701/Dellinger Gap Rd. 38.87295, -78.75547 on the lower terminus of the yellow blazed Falls Ridge Trail. This will add 1 mile to the total hike length.

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 0.0 - From the parking area at the Stack Rock trailhead continue walking along FR252. FR252 is also blue blazed at this point as the Laurel Run Connector Trail. In 0.4 miles pass the first of 2 roadside camping spots, then in another 0.4 miles pass the second camp area. However if you are car camping the sites 1.5 miles earlier on FR252 next to Laurel Run are far superior. Continue walking along FR252 passing several nice views of the valley, then arrive at a parking area and closed gate blocking FR252 to motor vehicles.
  • 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.
  • Mile 5.15 - Turn right on the orange blazed North Mountain Trail for 100 yards and arrive at the Stack Rock Trail. Note: this intersection is easy to miss. If you start descending the ridge on the orange blazed trail you have gone too far.
  • Mile 5.18 - Turn right downhill on the purple blazed Stack Rock Trail. The Stack Rock Trail steeply descends North Mountain making multiple switchbacks. In 1.0 miles on the descent there is a good view to the north of Big Schloss as well as the valley. Continue downward where the trail will become less steep.
  • Mile 6.9 - Arrive back at the parking area on FR252.
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Hiker Reviews For The Falls Ridge Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Michelle Roberts Rating: 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.

By: Rating: 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.

Early May
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