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The Cascades/Barney's Wall - Pembroke, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
8.4 mls
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5.0 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,600 ft
USFS Cascades Hiking
USFS White Rocks Campground
Giles County Cascades
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From:

e.g. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
Park at the restroom and information center at the Cascades Recreation Area. Fee parking.
37.35337, -80.59969

Near Pembroke, in Southwest VA, is one of the most beautiful waterfall and creek trails in Virginia in our opinion. The hike up the lower trail is one photo opportunity after the other with the trail never going further than 30 yards from Little Stony Creek before finally reaching the amazing lower falls.

See HU Note below about directions to the Upper Falls sent to us by one of our hikers. This hike can be done as a 4 mile round trip to the 69’ foot lower falls (800’ Elev gain) or as an 8 mile round trip (1600’ Elev gain) taking in the lower falls and Barney’s Wall to see 700’ foot sheer cliffs with great views of the New River Valley. This is a very popular hike on the weekends so come early, do the falls, and then proceed to Barney’s Wall for a little more solitude.

HU Note: For our hikers who are movie buffs, this hike is minutes away from Mountain Lake Conservancy & Hotel where much of “Dirty Dancing” was filmed. We stopped here for dinner on the way home, great food and service!

The un-blazed trail begins to the right of the bathroom and Information Center at the far end of the parking lot. Very quickly you will arrive at the first bridge. We chose to go across the bridge and take the lower trail as we heard it was the more picturesque of the 2 trails. You could return on the upper trail if desired to get a different perspective of the creek. The lower trail weaves its way alongside the creek for a mile before reaching the second bridge and rejoining the upper trail. Keep your eyes open for remnants (stairs to no where) of the trail that were destroyed in the 1996 flood. From the 2nd bridge to the lower falls is about 1 mile with many more places to stop and take photos. The lower falls will come into view as you pass a large boulder. Your time to do this trail will depend largely on how often you stop and how much time you spend “soaking” in the views and possibly taking in a dip in the large pool below the falls. This is the turn-around point if you decide not to continue to Barney’s Wall. Retrace your steps down either the Lower Trail or take the Upper Trail when you get to that intersection at the 2nd large bridge you crossed earlier.

To continue to Barney’s Wall, head up the wooden stairs taking a left onto the trail instead of a right to the falls observation deck. In about 200 yards you will reach an open area with a sign post directing you to the Conservancy Trail. It is a fire road for 0.4 miles. At the fork in the road bear left and take another left in about 50 yards at the Conservancy Trail sign post. It is more of a trail from this point on and is Yellow-blazed. This is a pleasant uphill walk in the woods, crossing a small creek and finally reaching the Barney’s Wall intersection on the left in 1.1 miles. The sign was leaning against a tree so keep alert as it could be easy to miss. The spur trail to Barney’s Wall (0.4 miles) is also yellow-blazed and passes through a few seemingly healthy stands of Hemlocks, a rare treat in VA these days! Just before the cliffs you will see a campsite (not sure of the camping rules since this land is conservancy property), the trail bears to the right of the campsite. You will have a great view of the New River Valley looking over towards Blacksburg. If you have no fear of heights, lie on your stomach and look over the edge to get an idea of how tall the cliffs are. As always, be careful near cliffs, especially when wet. This is a great place for lunch, you may even have company (Eastern Fence Lizard) and if you listen carefully towards the south-east, you will hear the roar of Little Stony Creek.

From this point turn around and retrace your route back past the lower falls and to The Cascades parking area.

HU Note: There is a second set of falls about 0.5 miles beyond the lower falls. The upper falls can be reached by continuing along the trail that runs to the left of the lower falls (the same one you used to reach Barney's Wall). Exactly one half mile above the lower falls there is an unmarked but well established path on the right that leads downhill. You should be able to hear the falls from the turn and they are located about a tenth of a mile down the hill. (Photo and directions courtesy of Kyle K.)

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Hiker Reviews For The The Cascades/Barney's Wall Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the The Cascades/Barney's Wall hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 07, 2013
Great hike but remember the $3 entrance fee. If you forget the trail store at the turn off is a good place to buy some stuff and get 3 dollars. We arrived at the trail around 9:30 (as stated by others get there early, parking lot fills up quickly) started with the scenic route to the falls which is worth it, a lot of good spots to stop and take pictures if you want too. There are a lot of people who take the hike to the falls but heading to the wall is really secluded. We passed a group about a mile up while heading towards the wall. We got some great photos at the wall and enjoyed a great lunch without anybody else. On the way back to the falls we passed another group but that's it, so if you are looking for remote quiet spot go to the wall. On our way back from the falls we took the high trail which is wide and easy. We did pass a lot of people (this was around 1:00) but still had room to walk with out any bother.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 20, 2013
Great hike. The lower trail to the falls is a lot of fun. It was quite muddy due to all the rain we had, but there was some great spots along the river for views. It was crowded until I passed the falls at which point I only saw 2 other people the entire last two miles. There is quite an elevation change so the hike up is quite a workout. The view at the top and the peacefulness of it is well worth the trek!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Awesome hike, great waterfall!  Please watch my video review here:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSN_nLhpP58


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, July 09, 2013

AWESOME HIKE!!!  Check out my video slideshow here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8W5HOkKUa7E


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, December 24, 2012
Despite the cold (approx. 36-39 degrees) & the fact that it rained for about 90 minutes, we Loved this trail!! I have been hiking for 15+ yrs. & have been to every trail in Shenandoah/Skyline/B.R.P (VA) & many in Costa Rica & THIS trail was the prettiest, most scenic trail & most powerful waterfall of any I have seen! It was my boyfriend's first hike ever & I was so happy that this was the one he got to experience first!! We stopped many times on the way up to take photos. It took us approx. 2 hrs. to get to the waterfall via the more difficult/more scenic lower trail. We took the upper trail back to the parking lot (from the split from Cascades/Barney's Wall/Conservancy Trail signpost) & it only took us 38 minutes! (no photo stops on the way out because we were trying to get back to the car before dark). Blacksburg had a few inches of snow a few days prior to our visit & their were still many areas with ice on the trail, icicles hanging from rocks & the waterfall was extremely powerful & much more full than photos I had seen on internet images so I was extremely happy we hiked this post-snowfall!
Next time we will do the Barney's Wall hike & on up to Mountain Lake or hike down from there. The Cascades is Definitely worth the effort!!


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Late May
Three Seasons (Courtesy of Laura U)
   
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