Fallingwater Cascades

  • Highlights: Waterfall, rock formations, wildflowers, wildlife
  • Distance: 1.6 mile loop
  • Elevation change: 410 feet
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Trailhead Parking: Flat Top parking area, Blue Ridge Parkway mile post 83.5
  • Website: National Park Service
  • Beer Pairings: Beale’s Brewery—Purple Mountain Pilsner & Red IPA

The Hike:

This short hike leads to a waterfall and series of cascades. This trail when combined with the Flat Top Mountain Trail is a National Recreation Trail. The trail is well marked and well maintained. The hike to the waterfall is downhill and the return trip is a gradual climb. During the dry summer months, the waterfall may not be very robust. This hike may be best in the spring when the water levels are higher and when the mountain laurel and rhododendron are in bloom.

From the Flat Top parking area, cross the Blue Ridge Parkway to the trailhead as it passes between two large, old growth trees. In 200 feet, turn right at the junction and follow the trail to the Fallingwater parking area. At the next junction, bear left and follow the trail as it descends past mountain laurel and rhododendron to a short footbridge. This is the top of the falls and when the water levels are high the bridge is the safest way to cross the stream. We hiked in August and water levels were very low.

Cross the footbridge past a large rock outcropping and begin a steep descent with switchbacks and stairs to reach the base of the cascade. Several short spur trails lead to views of the stream and cascades. Continue the descent and cross the stream. The trail begins to climb until you reach the Parkway at 1.6 miles and your vehicle.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing:

There are several beer options following this hike. The nearby Peaks of Otter Lodge (usually open March to November) has several craft beers on tap with nice views of Abbot Lake and Sharp Top. We recently visited the Lodge after another hike so we decided to venture a little over ten miles into nearby Bedford to visit Beale’s Brewery.

Beale’s brews some really good beer, they have tasty pub fare (the BBQ is really good), and indoor and outdoor seating. The Purple Mountain Pilsner is everything a good pilsner should be: clean and crisp with just a little kick of hoppiness. Red is a west coast-style red IPA with a nice boost of hops providing for a pleasant bitter finish.

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