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Cascade Falls

Blue Ridge Highlands, Virginia

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Cascade Falls

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  • After paying the $3 fee to park, these signs and flush toilets are at the trailhead.- Cascade Falls
  • There are two trails to get to the waterfalls: the lower trail, which travels along the river, and the upper trail follows a fire road.  - Cascade Falls
  • Upon reaching the first bridge, cross it to access the trail along the river.  - Cascade Falls
  • Some of the trail is paved, while other parts of the lower trail are have trickier footing.- Cascade Falls
  • The lower trail once again crosses the river at the second bridge.- Cascade Falls
  • A view from the second bridge.- Cascade Falls
  • Winter hiking and cold weather creates a winter wonderland of ice and running water.- Cascade Falls
  • Winter hiking and cold weather creates a winter wonderland of ice and running water.- Cascade Falls
  • Hiking to Cascade Falls.- Cascade Falls
  • Cascade Falls.- Cascade Falls
  • After viewing the falls, follow the stairs up to the upper trail to experience a different view of the water and river.- Cascade Falls
  • If you choose to take the upper trail to the falls, this sign will point the way.- Cascade Falls
  • This sign warns you of the steep decline; pay heed, especially in the winter.- Cascade Falls
  • Here is another opportunity to switch between the lower and upper trails.- Cascade Falls
  • Returning from Cascade Falls.- Cascade Falls
  • Winter hiking and cold weather creates a winter wonderland of ice and running water.- Cascade Falls
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Beautiful scenery. Waterfall. River.
Cons: 
Crowded.
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Region:
Blue Ridge Highlands, VA
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Highest point: 
3,021.00 ft (920.80 m)
Net Elevation Gain: 
811.00 ft (247.19 m)
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
General Day Use Fee
Permit required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
4.00 mi (6.44 km)
Total elevation gain: 
811.00 ft (247.19 m)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
2,210.00 ft (673.61 m)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

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Cascade Falls is one of the most popular and beautiful hikes in southwest Virginia. This is a common destination for college students attending Virginia Tech University nearby, and for good reason. The 4-mile round-trip hike takes you along the river side with spectacular views on the way to the nearly 70-foot waterfall. Given its popularity, get there early, because the parking lot is relatively small, and the parking attendants don't allow more cars than spots. It costs $3 to park, and flush toilets are located at the trailhead. This location can be enjoyed year round, with each season offering different views and highlights.  

This hike is located in Jefferson National Forest, part of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. The two national forests contain nearly 1.8 million acres, which is one of the largest blocs of public land on the East Coast, according to the official USDA website. The vast majority of these acres are located in Virginia.

There are two separate trails to the waterfalls; the lower and upper trail. After starting on the trail you will reach the first bridge, where you can cross to get to the lower trail. The trail follows the river bed, and the paved sections of the path are intermittent. The path provides ample opportunity to stop and enjoy the view along the river. Taking this trail during the winter also provides views of icicles hanging off tree branches and rocks near the rushing water, creating a serene view.

The lower path crosses back over the river at the second bridge, where you'll have the opportunity to continue along the lower path or join up with the upper path for the rest of the way to the waterfalls. If you choose to stick with the lower trail, you'll be rewarded with an excellent view of the river and waterfalls in the background as you near the area. The rhododendrons hanging along the river bank give a splash of green with their year-round leaves, providing a colorful background that creates a wonderful contrast to the ice-filled river during the winter season.

Once you reach the cascades, there are a number of viewpoints from which to take pictures. During the summer you can swim in the pool at the waterfall, although it stays pretty chilly. From the waterfally, find the stairs that lead you to the upper trail from the cascades to return along a different route. The upper trail gives a different perspective of the waterfalls and river while providing easier footing to walk along than the lower trail. The lack of foliage during the winter season also allows for the river to be seen more often along this trail.

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Location + Directions

Nearby Adventures

(2 within a 30 mile radius)

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