Apple Orchard Falls is one of more scenic waterfalls along the famous Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia! Listed at 200 feet it is higher than it looks and well worth the effort especially when the water levels are flowing higher.
Be aware it is a steep 2.7 mile return hike! Give yourself enough time and pack plenty of water. The slide show below will give you an indication of the steepness and trail condition.
There are several ways to reach Apple Orchard Falls. If you have a high-clearance vehicle (4WD preferred) you can park a short distance downstream and hike up. You can also hike up from the North Creek Camping area.
Most folks, however, hike from the Blue Ridge Parkway so let’s focus on this 1.35 mile trail to the Falls and back up for a total of 2.7 miles.
As one of the most popular waterfalls in Virginia, the 66-foot Cascade Falls is visited by more than 150,000 people every year! It is not uncommon to arrive on a weekend only to find no parking except downtown in Pembroke where shuttle buses ($3 per person at last check) take hikers to the trailhead.
The main trail is a 4 mile loop – the idea is to hike up to the Cascade Falls on the Lower Trail along Little Stony Creek and to return via the Upper trail on the opposite side.
However, we prefer an alternate trail in order to avoid most of the crowds! This trail takes in Barney’s Wall (a scenic viewpoint), a second waterfall called Upper Cascade Falls and the main Cascade Falls. You can also drive further to the summit of Butt Mountain for more views! NOTE – A 4WD vehicle is required.
The Standard Trail – Find your way to the town of Pembroke along US-460 from Blacksburg. Turn right on Cascade Dr and enter the parking area after 3.3 miles. Entrance fees are $3 per vehicle. Start the trail at the far end of the parking lot and cross the bridge to the Lower Trail. After viewing the Falls you can continue up to the Upper Falls and/or return via the Upper Trail.
The Barney’s Wall Trail – From US-460 turn right on Doe Creek Rd. After 3.8 miles turn left on Little Meadow Rd and drive 5.5 miles uphill (bad road) to the small parking area for Barney’s Wall. It is 0.7 miles to the Barney’s Wall viewpoint – an easy hike. Retrace your steps then continue down for 1.6 miles to the Upper Cascade Falls and 0.6 miles further down to the main Cascades Falls. Total is 4.7 miles. After the hike you can drive further up the mountain to the summit of Butt Mountain. Note – a high-clearance 4WD vehicle is required for this trailhead but the rewards are worth it!
Falls of Tumbling Creek near Saltville in Smyth County, Virginia
The Falls of Tumbling Creek are high on our list of must-see nature destinations in Virginia. And the best part? You can drive right up to these waterfalls – all it takes is some adventurous driving on a steep, curvy and bumpy country road.
When the Creek is flowing hard waterfalls are seemingly everywhere! In fact, you really need additional pairs of eyes – the driver must focus on the narrow road while passengers look for photogenic cascades and waterfalls.
There are several pullouts along the way but photographers must share these with local fishermen; Tumbling Creek is a very popular trout fishing stream.
From Saltville, drive north on Allison Gap Road then turn left onto Poor Valley Road (613). Turn right on Tumbling Creek Road (747) then follow it for 7 miles or so all the way to Laurel Bed Lake.
After major rains a high clearance 4WD will be best but on most days any vehicle will work.
The three major waterfalls are above the steep switchback section of the road and before the left turn to the lake. In that short section you will find Twin Falls, Big Falls and Upper Falls along with several other smaller cascades.
Big Cedar Creek Falls in the Pinnacle Nature Area Preserve in Russell County, Virginia
Known by most as Big Falls, Big Cedar Creek Falls is not a typical high waterfall. Instead, it covers the width of Big Cedar Creek creating a beautiful backdrop for wide-angle landscape photos!
In addition the Pinnacle Area Preserve offers several hiking trails. We enjoy combing the trails to visit Big Falls, Spring Falls (a secondary cascade) and a viewpoint to see the Pinnacle – a 400 feet tall dolomite spire!
From Lebanon, turn onto VA 82 towards Cleveland. Turn right onto VA 640 then after 4.3 miles turn left onto VA 721. Follow the unpaved road 0.9 miles down to the parking lot on the left. Cross the Creek using the swing bridge and continue for 1.2 miles to the Falls and beyond!
The trail is rather flat and easy with a slight elevation change at the bridge and just before Big Falls. At 0.9 miles you turn left uphill towards Big Falls. If you continue straight you can stop at Spring Falls just beyond the picnic shelter. It is a small cascade but pretty nonetheless.