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Crabtree Falls - Nelson County, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
4.4 mls N/A
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:

3.5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,380 ft
George Washington National Forest
Montebello Camping and Fishing Resort
The Cabins at Crabtree Falls
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e.g.. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
Parking at crabtree falls: 37.85144, -79.07922

Crabtree Falls is arguably the most beautiful set of waterfalls in Virginia. Billed as the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, Crabtree Falls is a must see for anyone who lives in the mid-Atlantic region.

The falls are believed to be named after William Crabtree, who settled in the area in 1777. The Tye River, at the bottom of the falls, is named for Allen Tye, who did extensive exploration in the local Blue Ridge Mountains.

Take note of the footbridge that crosses Tye River, a laminated arch that was shipped from New York state in one piece and installed in 1978. Until the mid 1980's the footbridge was the starting point for the hike up Crabtree Falls. Today the parking area is on the other side of the river, and the bridge now serves primarily as a decorative addition to the hike.

From the end of the parking area, follow the paved trail to the bottom of the lower most falls. At this point the trail becomes dirt, and does the first of nine switchbacks on its way to the top of the highest set of falls. The trail is well maintained, and has wooden guardrails along its steeper portions, as well as railed overlooks at the most scenic points.

At 0.5 miles look for a rock formation that appears to be a small cave. You can pass through the cave and exit on the other side rejoining the trail.

Arrive at the top of the falls in 1.1 miles from the parking area and cross over a wooden bridge to an overlook. From here you can't see Crabtree Falls below as it falls away, but still get a nice view of the valley floor and Blueridge Mountains. Don't be tempted to climb over the stone wall onto the uppermost portion of the falls. The rocks are covered with a very slippery algae, and according to the Forestry Service sign, 23 people have fallen to their deaths climbing out onto the rocks.

From this point re-cross the footbridge and either head back down, or continue left up the trail where the hike becomes much flatter and follows Crabtree stream.

If you continue up the trail will split in 70 yards. Take the right fork uphill as it first traverses the ridge, then follows the stream to the upper parking area in 1.1 miles. To return, retrace your steps back down.

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Hiker Reviews For The Crabtree Falls Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, August 21, 2014
This is a nice, easy hike with some great views of beautiful falls. Great for beginners.

By: David Hamilton Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, July 21, 2014
William campbell, pops,nonny, and jenny went on the hike. A very long hike on a very hot day. It was a great way to see some cool looking vegetation with some awesome wildlife. On the hike you will see chipmunks and birds youve probably never heard of! Honestly once you get to the top 9it has a greeat veiw yet still ask yourself "where is this water coming from"! Durring this hike you will probably take a few breaks, and get a better appreciation of the natives and people who had to hike these mountains to get from place to place.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, July 17, 2014
It was my first time up the Crabtree Falls hiking trail, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!! I went around dusk, and got some great photos. Also, because I went during the week (on a Thursday), there weren't as many people around, and so I had large portions of the trail all to myself despite it being the middle of summer--which is always nice!! I am a relative neophyte when it comes to hiking--I've only done it a handful of times, and I am not the most "in shape" person--and it only took me 3 hrs despite stopping to rest three times, pausing on the summit, and (of course) stopping to take a ton of pictures! Most can do this hike, but it is challenging--at the top, I was with a family of young kids and a very large man--so if they can do it, you can, too.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 13, 2014
Overall Crabtree Falls was a beautiful and challenging hike. The falls are absolutely spectacular. My opinion is this steep climb deserves more than a 2 rating, maybe even a 3. There are plenty of flat areas to catch your breath, but the climb is pretty relentless. Expect to see LOTS AND LOTS of people, not matter what day or time you go. If you are looking for solitude, this is not the hike you want. View at the top is decent, and the immediate area at the top of the falls feels very unique and cool. There is then another mile plus heading across the top which is a very boring, swampy, flat trail that merges with a large camping area with a gravel access road cutting through. I did not like this camping area in the least and cannot imagine why anyone would want to camp there as it was very boring, infested with bugs, on not very scenic. Access to Crabtree Falls is a fairly long drive, and parking was $3. The falls are probably enough to make this worth another visit.

By: Amy E. Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 09, 2014
I hiked this trail 35 years ago, so I thought it would be about the same. As with Ken's review, I also had trouble with 3 major patches of ice. I slipped off one and landed in the muddy area below. I didn't go too far, thankfully, but it was scary! I won't be hiking in March unless the weather has been above freezing for several days. All-in-all, the hike is a great trail. It has lots of stairs and rocks for footing whether climbing or descending the trail. It's not a "walk-in-the-park!" I'm glad it is well marked with warning signs to stay on the trail. We had a friend die there 35 years ago when she stepped onto some clear algae. Stay on the trail and you'll do fine. It is beautiful!

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