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.
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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Reviews For The Crabtree Falls Hike (5 Most Recent)
Rick's review below is perfect. I am just shy of 60 and not in bad shape, but not in terrific shape either. I too suffer a low back condition and cannot afford a jolt or fall. A walking stick would have made all the difference in my descent. It took my group about 2 hours to do the 1.7 up and 1 hour down. I turned back at around 1.4 or 5 to start the descent as I felt it would take me longer to do than the folks 15-20 years younger than myself. I did not want to be rushed. I took my time and took many photos and chatted with a few hikers as I passed them. It is a very steep grade, the rocky part of the paths are challenging. On the way down, I slid a bit on slippery dry leaves covering the path, and I had hiking boots on. It's a great climb, would be prettier about a month prior to this November date and would love to see the falls when more water is hitting it. Some areas of the falls were already icy and icicles were hanging off many boulders in the falls.
Date of Hike: Saturday, November 09, 2013
Great hike! I took over 100 photographs, some with the aid of a rather heavy tripod that I wished I'd left behind. Young people seem to sprint up the mountain. My hike to the top and back took 4 hours. I'll be hiking up again in the spring.
Date of Hike: Saturday, November 02, 2013
My wife and I were in Lexington just enjoying the area as we usually do a couple times a year. We always knew about Crabtree Falls but never did the hike until today. We kinda got up this morning from our hotel stay and she said lets do the hike. My wife is 61 and in pretty good shape for her age. I'm 58 and weigh 278 but a big guy and for years I was in pretty good physical shape but as of late I've been lazy. I also have some lower back issues and heel spurs. I'm adding this account of my physical condition to help others who may wonder if they would enjoy it in the same condition. We have no gear so we went to Walmart and bought the cheapest backpack we could find. We bought some Kashi bars and some water and peanuts. We just wore our regular tennis style walking shoes. I wear shorts year round so I wore a sweatshirt over a tee and my shorts.
We started out at about 10:30 on what turned out to be a beautiful sunny low 60's day. We paid our $3 parking fee. BTW, at the start of the hike there are envelopes and you write your info on it and put $3 in the envelope and hang the tear off on your cars mirror.
So we start out at 10:30 and the start is paved with a slight incline. It dosen't take long before you can see and hear the falls. As you continue on you start hitting the trail and the elevation starts to get your heart pumping a little. Not to awful long into the hike you start hitting a series of wooden steps and if your like me and have been lazy you realize your not sitting on the couch anymore.
For me the steps were the first indication that hey, can my overweight out of shape body do the 1.7 mile climb? Don't worry, just take a break and get your breath. Try and plan your rest stops at or near the fall viewing areas. Just so you know this is one very high waterfall and the hike trail continues to switchback and come right back to it many times along the way. The trial path is covered with leaves and in many areas quite a bit of moisture. The leaves cover a lot of small rocks and small tree roots so don't drag your feet as I tend to do. Many areas along the path have sections where its all rock. You want to be careful on the big flat rocks while your feet are wet, especially on the way down when your legs and knees and feet may be feeling tired. The falls views keep getting better and better as you get to the top and the view from the top is amazing. For us older crowd there is a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that we did it.
The trip back down is where I feel I felt the most discomfort because of my heel spurs and lower back issues. The is no strain on your heart at all heading down but my knees and lower back were getting a pretty good workout. The wet areas and flat rocks became somewhat of a challenge for me and I almost went down once. With no back, heel or knee issues I would have been fine. If I learned one thing from this adventure it is: I will never do another hike without a walking stick. I truly didn't understand the concept of a stick and the difference it would make but having been there and talking to other hikers that were older I can not stress enough what a difference it would have made. I actually had one in my hand at Montebello's just a half a hour before we started the hike and decided not to get it. If your anywhere near my age and have any weak areas that I do, get you a walking stick...you wont regret it!!!!!! It took us about 1 hr and forty minutes to do the 1.7 and about 1 hr 10 minutes coming down. That includes stopping breaks and being really careful coming down. The two things I would stress the most for people in my age and condition. Even if you don't care for water take some and it will taste better than ever. If you don't have a walking stick get one. Montebello's on rt 56 has nice one's. they were $12. I would have paid $50 coming down the hike. Hope this helps someone. firstname.lastname@example.org
Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Not a review but I'm not sure where else to ask:
Does anyone know if the gravel road above Crab Tree Falls (I think it's Meadow's Lane 263)is open with the government shutdown? I'm hoping to park up there and hike up Priest mountain to camp on Saturday and am concerned that the road will be gated. I've done this once before and can't remember if there is a gate or not. Anyone have a clue? Thanks and sorry to turn this into a forum!
Date of Hike: Friday, October 11, 2013
I was up there this weekend. 826 is open. We backpacked from 826 to Campbell Creek on the Mau-Har Trail and back. Don't know what you drive, but keep in mind that coming from Rt. 56 you can get a car up to the Crabtree Falls trailhead, need some ground clearance to get to the junction with the AT, and need a serious off-road vehicle from that point down Shoe Creek to Perkins Mill Road. Hope this helps.