Crabtree Falls (Virginia)

  • Highlights: Highest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, classic Virginia bucket list hike 
  • Distance: 4 mile out and back
  • Elevation change:  1,070 feet
  • Difficulty level: Moderate/strenuous
  • Trailhead Parking: Crabtree Falls day use parking area, off state route 56 in Nelson county VA. $3 parking fee.
  • Website: US Forest Service
  • Beer Pairings: Blue Mountain Native Species pale ale and Dark Hollow imperial double stout

The Hike:

There are at least two “Crabtree Falls”. One in North Carolina and another in Virginia. Both are located near the Blue Ridge Parkway, so it gets a bit confusing. This hike is located in Nelson county Virginia and it is a classic Virginia “must do” hike. Crabtree Falls is said to be highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. It consists of five major cascades and a number of smaller ones that fall a total distance of 1,200 feet. We have hiked this several times, and a few years ago we brought our foreign exchange student Miriam with us. Miriam is from Germany and she knows a good waterfall hike when she sees one. She really enjoyed the hike.

Assuming you want to go to the top of the falls, there aren’t too many options for this hike. The paved trail to the lower falls is just 500’ from the parking lot. The paved trail ends at the Lower Falls and the upper falls are 2 miles (one way) and the Appalachian Trail is 3.5 miles (one way) from the trailhead. The trail is steep, but the it is next the falls the entire way so there are plenty of points to stop and admire the falls.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing:

Blue Mountain Brewery is located near Crabtree Falls, Afton Mountain, and Wintergreen. It is a great location for a post-hike beverage and lunch. The brewery has a great pub serving excellent food, a nicely landscaped beer garden with nice mountain views, and of course some really good beer. Our hiking partner on this hike several years ago was Miriam, our German foreign exchange student. We have to pair this hike with a German beer. Blue Mountain’s Kolsch 151 is a German-style ale from the Cologne region. Miriam is also from Cologne. When her parents visited us several years ago, we served Kolsch 151 and they said it was the best American beer they have ever tasted and it was a really good Kolsch. Pretty high praise from some beer loving Germans. Kathy likes the Full Nelson Pale Ale, Blue Mountain’s flagship brew. At 60 IBUs it has a nice balance of hoppiness and character.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe and be responsible.