Crabtree Falls

  • Highlights: Waterfall, wildflowers
  • Distance: 2.9 mile loop
  • Elevation Change 586 feet
  • Trail Surface: Dirt with numerous rocky sections
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Trailhead Parking: Crabtree Falls parking area, Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 339.5, near Little Switzerland, NC
  • Trail Markings: No blazes, signs at trail junctions
  • Website: AllTrails and National Park Service
  • Beer Pairings: Bierdock Brewery—Smooth Operator & Pilsner

Trail Map:

The Hike:

Crabtree Falls (not to be confused with a falls of the same name in Virginia) is just off the Blue Ridge parkway. This majestic 70’ falls is considered on of the most photogenic in western North Carolina. The trail is well marked and well maintained. This is a popular hike so you will likely be sharing the trail with some new friends.

Follow the signs past the campground and amphitheater on the Crabtree Falls Trail. The trail quickly begins a steep descent and a few sections are very rocky. Mountain laurel and rhododendron line both sides of the trail. You will hear the falls long before you see it. 

A wood footbridge spans Big Crabtree Creek at the base of the falls. The best views of the falls are from the bridge. A short trail on the right leads up to the base of the falls. Many hikers take in the views of the falls and return to the parking area for a 1.8 mile out and back. 

We like to continue the loop. The trail climbs steeply with a series of switchbacks and stone steps as it passes several large rock formations. The trail crosses the creek several times as it weaves through a hardwood forest. The grade becomes more gradual as you reach the campground. Just beyond is the parking area and your vehicle.

Hike Photos:

Beer Pairing:

Bierdock Brewery in Spruce Pine NC is located about 30 minutes from the trailhead. This craft brewery has indoor and outdoor seating, 8 taps of their own craft beer and 4 guest beer taps. They offer a variety of food including really good bratwurst, pizza, sandwiches, and salads.

Pete enjoyed Bierdock Pilsner (4.8% ABV • 13 IBU), a crisp and refreshing beer after a long hike. Kathy really like Smooth Operator (7% ABV • 23 IBU), a New England-style hazy IPA.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe, be responsible, and leave no trace.