SWVA Hiking Trails

Dismal Falls

Dismal Falls

Map and Directions

Dismal Creek is about 50 feet wide (depending on water volume) at this point as it flows down over several ledges. The ledges on the left side of the falls are step-like while the middle and right ledges are more of a straight drop. In lower water, the middle and right are not covered and the stream is much narrower. Despite the width of the stream, the waterfall is not particularly open with trees lining each bank and throwing much of the falls into shade most of the day.

Driving Directions: Take exit 98 from I-81 going north on VA-100. Go 11.6 miles and turn left on VA-42. After 10.1 miles turn right on SR-606. After 1 mile, turn right on SR-671 which becomes unpaved after .4 miles. .5 miles after the pavement ends, there is a sign for the falls and a small pull-off on the right of the road.

Cascade Falls

Cascade Falls

View and Print Trail Map

About 150,000 visitors a year visit the Cascades. Without question, Cascade Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Virginia and possibly on the entire East Coast. Little Stony Creek falls over a vertical cliff in several different streams. Several streams cascade a couple times on the way down while others fall the whole distance of the falls.

The 69 ft. falls crash into a large pool surrounded by two hundred foot cliff walls from which large ice formations hang in the winter. The scene is both breathtaking and peaceful as the falls combine both power and beauty. The falls are also fairly easy to view, with wooden stairs and platforms on one side of the pool allowing a visitor to get very close to the falls as well as allowing a photographer many different angles for photographs.

Mill Creek Falls

Mill Creek Falls

Mill Creek Nature Park is 140+ acres adjoining the Town of Narrows and Jefferson National Forest.  This property offers miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, beautiful water falls, and fishing for native trout in a pristine mountain stream (valid Virginia licenses required).  The park has a small picnic shelter as well as a hiker shelter near the reservoir.

Mill Creek reservoir served as a water source for the town until the 1970s.  The original hand-cut stone portion of the dam is still functional and dates to the 1780s.  Hiking past the reservoir site leads to four waterfalls along the mountain creeks of Mill Creek and Mercy Branch.

Mill Creek received a silver award in “Best of the Blue Ridge” in 2013 and was also featured in a national commercial for Barbarsol shave cream.

War Spur & Wind Rock Trails

Trail Map

These trails are moderately easy trails through the Mountain Lake Wilderness as both trails lead to scenic overlooks with elevations from 3100- 3800 feet. Some of this trail follows the Appalachain Trail eastward. The Wind Rock Overlook offers sweeping views of Rocky Mountains (3300′), Fork Mountain (3645′) and Peter’s Mountain (4000′). Photo of view isshown above.

Kelly Knob Overlook

Trail Map

Kelly Knob Overlook – This is a 2 mile hike along the Appalachian Trail to Kelly Knob Overlook. Trailhead also accesses Johns Creek Mountain Trail. The elevation is from 3300 to 3800 feet, with the difficulty rating considered to be moderate.

Angels Rest Overlook

Day Hike – Out and Back 4.6 miles – Strenuous | Trail Map

Hike the Appalachian Trail 1 1/2 miles up Pearis Mountain to a scenic overlook. The Appalachian Trail ascends the northern end of Pearis Mountain. At the top, the Angels Rest Trail (a blue-blazed trail) leads 50 yards to view rock, with views of the New River Valley, Pearisburg, and Peters Mountain on the left; Butt Mountain at the center right; and Bald Knob at the extreme right. The trail passes through many thickets of rhododendron and azalea on top of the mountain. Follow the trail around the edge of Pearis Mountain to a rock ledge overlooking Wilburn Valley and the mountains to the east.

Driving Directions: From Blacksburg, follow VA 460 west to VA 100 at Pearisburg. Turn right onto Johnston Avenue (Beside the Dairy Queen). Take the next right onto VA 634 (Morris Avenue) and follow approximately 1/2 mile to where the Appalachian Trail crosses VA 634. There is limited roadside parking.

Rice Fields

Day Hike – Out and Back 10.0 miles – Strenuous

The Appalachian Trail ascends Peters Mountain and follows the ridge line. The crest of the Peters Mountain ridge is the West Virginia – Virginia state line. The ascent to the ridge is steep and rocky. Once on the ridge the trail crosses many saddles and peaks featuring sweeping westward views. The Rice Fields are extensive open pastures with rock outcroppings and are located on the southern end of Peters Mountain.

Driving Directions: From I-81 Exit 118B, follow Rt 460 west. Cross the New River on Senator Shumate Bridge near the Celanese industrial site. Turn right on Rt 641 (Stillhouse Branch Road). There is a small parking lot within one half mile, where the Appalachian Trail crosses Rt 641.

LAT: 37.3543643753 LONG :-80.7653474808

Hiking Trails

Crabtree Falls

Day Hike: 3.4miles out-and-back | Difficulty – 3 | More

The highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River, is a popular attraction located in Nelson County, Virginia, just six miles off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway near milepost 27. Beyond the upper waterfall the trail climbs through a hanging valley on its way to Crabtree Meadows. From the meadows it is a short hike to the Appalachian Trail where you can choose to hike to The Priest or Spy Rock. This hike takes you south on the Appalachian Trail to Spy Rock. Spy Rock is an incredible rock dome on the east side of Maintop Mountain with 360° views of the Religious Range, Mt. Pleasant, The Priest, Three Ridges and St. Mary’s Wilderness areas, and the eastern foothills. You can do Crabtree Falls and Spy Rock as separate short hikes or you can try this hike for a wonderful day combining waterfalls with incredible vistas.

Directions to trailhead: If you are approaching from I-81, take exit 205 towards Steeles Tavern.  Take a left on to Rte. 11 and then a quick right on to VA-56 heading east.  Follow this past the Blue Ridge Parkway (near BRP Mile Marker 30).  After a few more miles, you will see the signs for the parking area of Crabtree Falls on your right.  The parking lot loops around and you will see the trailhead and map near the restroom facilities.

Comers Creek Falls Trail

The main attraction of this short trail is the small Comers Creek waterfall, as well as the beautiful forested area.  While you are on the Homestead Road, look for signs of where the old homesteads used to be.

Driving Directions: From I-81 (interchange 45) take VA16 south. At 16.5 miles (the top of Iron Mountain) take VA 741 (Homestead Road) to the right.  In about half a mile, you will spot a small pull-off on the right side of the road for a couple of vehicles.

 Bottom Creek Gorge

Day Hike – 3.5 – 5.0 miles Moderate loop | Directions | Map

Meadows, abundant springs, wildflowers, 2nd highest Waterfall in Virginia.  Bottom Creek is a powerful mountain stream that forms a stair-step series of broad-basin waterfalls known as the “kettles.” One of the headwater streams of the South Fork of the Roanoke River, Bottom Creek boasts a 200-foot high waterfall. Flanking Bottom Creek are forests of mixed hardwoods (tulip poplar, maple, oak, hickory) and upland meadows. Five rare species thrive in this habitat.

NO DOGS NO Horses  LAT: 37.1324031198 LONG :-80.09702682495117

Rock Castle Gorge Trail

Floyd |Day Hike – 10.8 miles – Strenuous loop | Map

Mountain views, streams, waterfalls.  From the Saddle Overlook start hiking southbound on the green blazed Rock Castle Gorge Trail. You will pass Rocky Knob and a few overlooks. In about 3 miles you will reach Grassy Knoll. Take a left to start descending down the valley. In 1.5 miles you will reach Rock Castle Creek. Keep following the trail down the hill for 2.8 miles passing an old house on the right. At the bottom, take a left onto the ascending trail. You will face a very steep ascend back to the top of the ridge for about 3 miles. Shortly thereafter you will reach the parking lot.

Driving Directions: Drive to the Saddle Overlook at Mile Post 167.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. LAT: 36.8223058436 LONG :-80.3426313400

Buffalo Mountain

Floyd |Day Hike – 1.0 mile – Easy to moderate | Map

Windswept bald with panoramic views. The combination of high-elevation (3,971 feet), wind-exposed openings at the summit, and magnesium rich soils make it unlike any place else in the Commonwealth. The south face of the mountain contains grassy, prairie-like openings composed of wildflowers and native warm-season grasses more typical to the Midwest than to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Wet, magnesium-rich seeps along the base of the mountain support globally rare grasses and wildflowers. Public access facilities include a small parking area and a steep 1 mile hiking trail to the summit.

Driving Directions: Drive to the Saddle Overlook at Mile Post 167.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. LAT: 36.7943712286 LONG :-80.4665279388

 Johns Creek Mountain Trail

Craig County | Day Hike – Easy to moderate – 4 miles one way – Ele.: 3300 feet

Beginning on VA 601, the ascent on the Appalachian Trail to the Johns Creek Mountain Trail is a steady uphill grade for less than half mile. This is the most difficult section of the trail. At the top of the grade, Johns Creek Mountain Trail veers off to the east. The trail follows the ridge line out to VA 658, crossing several peaks and saddles along the way. There are a number of outcroppings and scenic vistas. The mountain is an area of abundant wildlife.

Location: Johns Creek Mountain

Driving Directions: Western Trailhead: From Blacksburg, take VA 460 west to VA 42, turn right onto VA 42 and proceed 1 mile. Turn left onto VA 601 and go 7 miles to the intersection of VA 601 and the Appalachian Trail. Total travel distance: 15.5 miles. Eastern Trailhead: From Blacksburg, take VA 460 west to VA 42, turn right onto VA 42 and proceed 9.5 miles to VA 658. The trailhead is on VA 658 at the crest of the mountain. Total travel distance: 16 miles.

Mount Rogers

Grayson | Difficulty – 4 | Photos and Details | Map

Best known as the highest natural peak in the state of Virginia, Mount Rogers measures in at an impressive 5,729 feet above sea level. But the coolest part? If you get lucky, you might just see the wild highland ponies ponies that live in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. The summit of Mount Rogers, Virginia’s highest peak, can be reached via a nine mile (total, out-and-back) hike starting from Grayson Highlands State Park.  The hike follows the Appalachian Trail for most of the way and crosses into Jefferson National Forest.

McAfee Knob

Roanoke | Photos and More

One of the finest hikes on the entire Appalachian Trail, if the 4.5 mile McAfee’s Knob trail doesn’t taken your breath away, the views most definitely will. At the summit, you’ll see Catawba Valley, North Mountain, Tinker Cliffs and the Roanoke Valley wrapped around you from west to east. That’s a workout worth the reward. The knob is located atop Catawba Mountain with an elevation of 3,197 feet and is one of the highlights of the Appalachian Trail.

Directions: From Interstate 81, take Exit 141 to VA 419/311. Go north for approximately 1/4 mile and turn right on Route 311. Travel 5.5 miles north on Route 311 to the top of Catawba Mountain, where there’s a gravel parking lot and the spot where the Appalachian Trail crosses the road. From the parking lot, walk back across Route 311 to begin the hike.