9-12-20 Crabtree Falls is located in the Crabtree Meadows Recreation Area at MP 339.5 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The 70 foot high waterfall is one of the prettiest around and well worth the hike. The trail is rocky in sections, moderate in difficulty, but is bigger kid friendly. You can either do an out and back hike (2.25 miles) or the loop hike which is longer (3.8 miles). There's also a BRP campground here with some first come sites and some that can be reserved. The USGS map labels this waterfall as Upper Falls. After the Blue Ridge Parkway was built, the NPS began calling this same waterfall Crabtree Falls. Unfortunately, the maps also show a Crabtree Falls much farther down stream. This Crabtree Falls is on private property and is not accessible to the public.
Directions: Do not rely on Google Maps to get you to the correct Crabtree Falls! Apparently it shows a photo of the correct waterfall, but the directions take you to the one on private property which is clearly posted with "No Trespassing" signs. If you are not on the Blue Ridge Parkway, you are not at the correct location! Depending on where you are on the Blue Ridge Parkway, head to MP 339.5. As a reference, Crabtree Meadows is about 4.5 miles north of Hwy 80 and is south of the Little Switzerland area. The parking area for the waterfall used to be right before you got to the camping area, but that has changed. You still pull in the same area, but instead of driving back to the campground, look for the one way loop near the closed restaurant and gift shop and park here. The trail begins at the first of the loop and is marked.
The trail begins by passing the amphitheater and continues though an field area with summer wildflowers. Follow the signs and in about 10 minutes from the parking area you'll come to the pay station for the campground. Continue into the small parking lot (the old parking area) and the trail will enter the woods on the left. In a short distance, You'll come to a 'T' intersection. Head to the right if you want the shortest way to the waterfall. The trail heads generally downhill for most of the hike and you'll have 3 sets of stone stairs to climb down, then back up if you do the out and back. The trail crosses the creek at the waterfall on a wooden footbridge, but I think the better view is from the other side. Climb the stairs and look to your left. If you plan to do the loop hike, continue up the trail past this area. Once you get near the end, you'll see a side trail that heads into the campground. You can shorten the hike by taking this trail, then heading back up towards the pay station and turning right at the sign for the amphitheater.
This is a popular waterfall, so if you are looking for photo ops - go early! The sun will be at your back in the morning, so if it's going to be a sunny day - go early! This is one of those waterfalls I just love going back to over and over. The photos on this page are a mix from various trips.
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