Every so often we find a waterfall that no-one talks about, yet we are amazed by its beauty and tranquility. Laurel Run Falls is one of those.
We went looking for waterfalls one Sunday and with the Virginia Atlas and Gazetteer in hand we studied the creeks in the Goshen area west of Lexington. There appeared to be the potential for at least two waterfalls in the area so we hopped in the Jeep and drove out on SR-39.
What a day we had! We hiked to two waterfalls and spent all day in the woods with not a single other soul in sight, except for a few kayakers in the Maury River!
IMPORTANT – We believe this is a WMA (Wildlife Management Area) and you need to buy an access permit. To be safe, we buy annual permits for $23 or so – see this DGIF site.
From Lexington, drive west on SR-39 towards Goshen. The parking area (on your left) is exactly 13.5 miles from the Super 8 where you turn from Rte 11 onto SR-39.
There is room for 2 or 3 cars or you can actually drive into the WMA when the gate is open and park in a pull-out somewhere. But do not block the narrow road and an SUV with high-clearance is recommended.
There is no trail to Lauren Run Falls! You walk along the slight uphill road and bushwack down to the creek about 0.15 miles from the parking area.
Once next to the creek, make your way upstream for a short distance (another 0.15 miles) to the bottom of the cascade.
We found the going a bit easier on the opposite side of the creek. Note- while not overly dangerous, you can get hurt on the rocks or in the creek debris. Stay safe!
Logan Creek Falls is surprisingly large for a road-side waterfall! And with very easy access if you can handle mud, some poison ivy and a slippery scramble down to its base!
But you can also view the Falls from the top after a very short walk from your vehicle.
Directions to Logan Falls
Logan Creek Falls is to the northwest of Meadowview. You simply pick up VA-80 (Lindell Rd) in town and follow Logan Creek straight to the Falls! At Rich Valley Rd make a left then a right to continue on VA-80 on Hayters Gap Rd.
Follow Hayters Gap Rd for 1.6 miles and you will see the small parking area on the right. There is room for 4 or 5 vehicles.
The trail starts to your left.
After just 50 yards or so you will hear the Falls and then it is just a matter of finding your perfect viewing spot! The trail continues with several access areas to the base of the Falls but these are slippery!
When the Stony Creek flows hard, these Falls are smokin’, especially the Falls at Lower Shamokin (covered in another post)! But Upper Shamokin should not be missed either!
The Falls are inside the Wintergreen Resort which makes access a little more challenging than it should be, but do not be concerned about that!
Even at low levels this waterfall is very scenic and the 1.8 mile (roundtrip) trail is steep enough to provide a nice workout any time of the year.
But the trail is steep in places and very rocky so please wear proper shoes!
NOTE – It is possible to reach Lower Shamokin Falls via a maintenance road starting just below Upper Shamokin but it is a much better hiking experience when you start from a different parking area below Lower Shamokin. This trail will be covered separately.
Assuming you do not want to enter Wintergreen and deal with the security folks at the gate, make your way to the Blue Ridge Parkway and pull over at mile 9.6 – Dripping Rock Parking. There is room for 3 maybe 4 cars only so go early!
Step onto the Appalachian Trail North (east of the road) and follow it for 0.4 miles (just keep left at the split soon after the start. Now for the tricky part – at 0.4 miles look for a spring on the right. You actually have to turn right onto a faint trail just before the spring!
DO NOT APPROACH ANY OF THE HOUSES. Stay on the trail next to the tiny creek that source the spring.
Follow this faint trail down the hill until you get to Laurel Springs Road. Turn left and walk a short distance until you see a yellow trail marker to the Falls on the right. Follow the trail downhill until it split to form a loop. You can go either way – we prefer to turn left and loop around clockwise.
HOWEVER – If the Creek is high you will stay dry if you go right and down to the Falls then return the same way. If you go left you have to cross the Creek.
You will soon hear/see the Falls to your right. Stay on the trail which gets rough at times. When you reach a rough dirt road after 0.4 miles, turn right, cross Stony Creek then turn right again next to the Creek and make your way up to the Falls.
From the Falls you zig-zag uphill over very rocky terrain to complete the loop then retrace your steps back to the parking area.
From Steeles Tavern, drive east on SR-56 for 1 mile then turn left on SR-608. After 2.2 miles turn right on to stay on SR-608 and drive a short distance to St Mary’s Road. Turn right. The parking area is 1.4 miles away where the road ends.
The trail (while rocky in some areas) is easy to follow (orange markers) as seen in our slide show below. Be aware you have to cross the creek no less than 5 times meaning your feet will get wet after a rainy period!
Stiles Falls was named after Randolph Stiles who sadly lost his life near the Falls during a Sunday School picnic. It is a very pretty waterfall at the end of a scenic 1.6 mile hike.
The Falls is located on the property of Alta Mons – a summer camp and retreat center of the United Methodist Church near Shawsville, Virginia.
It is best to look at our Google Map to ensure you do not get lost!
Make your way to Alleghany Spring Road (SR-637) and look for Camp Alta Mons on the south side of the road. Drive up to the office on the left and park in the small lot on the right. DO NOT enter the gate with your vehicle.
Do check in with the office as a courtesy and sign your name on the visitor sheet next to the gate.
The trail is clearly marked and easy at first but you have to cross a stream 3 times and may get wet! Near the Falls the trail get steeper and rougher as you can see in the slide show below.
Please wear proper hiking shoes to prevent slipping.
Bent Mountain Falls in Montgomery County, Virginia
Dropping over 200 feet, Bent Mountain Falls is the 2nd highest waterfall in Virginia!
Located inside the Bottom Creek Gorge Preserve, the Falls are best viewed from an overlook along the Johnston Trail (red markers). When water levels are lower, one could bushwack along Bottom Creek to the foot of the Falls but its true height is obscured.
It is best to just follow our Google Mapfor the exact location.
Make your way to Bottom Creek Lane (SR-637) and look for the bridge where the road crosses Bottom Creek. Turn west on the unpaved road for a short distance until you reach a gate. Do not block the gate when parking!
Please be aware – no dogs allowed.
It is a strenuous hike (4.75 miles round-trip but a bit shorter if you stay on the Johnston Trail only) so come prepared. You walk a short distance until you reach the information board where you will be introduced to the three trail options – red, yellow or blue. We prefer the outer loop (Red – Yellow – Blue) in order to see the actual Bottom Creek and to see some of the other sights as explained on the information board.
It is 1.6 miles from the parking lot to the Creek and 2.4 miles to the Falls Viewpoint when using the Yellow Trail.
Fenwick Mines is a beautiful waterfall and swimming hole just 0.3 miles from the parking area along Fenwick Mines Road (CR-685).
It is located in an old mining area and today there are hiking trails and picnic facilities.
The short and flat trail to Fenwick Mines Waterfall is well-maintained and wheel-chair accessible (up to the overlook). There is an easy but narrow trail down to the base of the Falls (highly recommended). Please watch the short trail video below.
It is best to just follow our Google Mapfor the exact location. The road is paved and the parking area is large enough for several vehicles.
Just follow Market Street/Craigs Creek Road north out of New Castle for about 5 miles then turn onto State Route 611. Soon afterwards turn right onto Fenwick Mines Rd and the parking area will be on the right after just over a mile.
Walk over the foot bridge then turn right and the Falls will be 0.3 miles away!
If you are looking for a semi-challenging hike to a remote waterfall then Rowlands Creek Falls – a 3.2 mile (round-trip) outing – is for you! It is in the middle of nowhere – closest large town is Chilhowie but some distance away!
While the trail itself is not difficult, do go prepared when hiking to Rowlands Creek Falls. Once you reach the top of the Falls, you have to scramble down the slippery banks to reach the base and this is where you may get hurt. Just in case something goes wrong, please pack everything you need in order to survive a night or two while waiting for rescue.
Once you reach the top of the Falls, you have to scramble down the slippery banks to reach the base and this is where you may get hurt.
The easiest way is to find the USFS Hurricane Campground on a map. That will take you close. Then you follow an unpaved road west (Hurricane Rd) for about 4.5 miles. At some point this becomes Skulls Gap Rd but it does not matter much. The trailhead will be on your right.
Should you start from the Chilhowie area, follow Whitetop Rd (CR-600) south and turn left onto unpaved Skulls Gap Rd. From here the trailhead will be on your left about 4.5 miles east. Again, at some point the road becomes Hurricane Rd but do not be overly concerned about road names.
It is best to just follow our Google Mapfor the exact location. The parking area is very small but you can park next to road somewhere.
Once parked, look for the Rowlands Creek TR sign and enter past the gate. Another sign states the Falls are 1-1/2 miles. Follow the trail east for a short distance until you see a 3rd sign for Rowlands Creek TR. You now turn left past another gate and follow the fire road all the way down the hill until you get to the Creek.
Once you cross the Creek look for the trail to turn right. You follow the Creek (crossing it a few times) all the way down until you hear the thundering waterfall on your left! Continue down until you see the base of the Falls on your left and then bushwack your way a short distance down to it.
Note, we call the access road ‘Skulls Gap Road’ but it could also be Hurricane Rd.