Height: 1,200 feet. But…
Trail Type: Dirt, rock, and stairs
Hike Distance: 2.8 miles round trip
Crabtree Falls is full of lies. First, they claim that Crabtree Falls is the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi. And if Crabtree was one continuous drop of 1,200 feet, then that would be true. However, you can easily divide the area into four or five major drops that in turn total the 1,200 feet. But that’s just like some typical Virginians to exaggerate the numbers and try to cheat to make themselves look better than they really are.
Second, the hike is advertised as being one mile to the top. But actually, and there are milepost markers to prove this, the entire length of the trail from the base to the lower section of the top part of the falls 1.4 miles.
The waterfall itself, though, is magnificent. Each section has its own character and, if you were to only look at pictures of each section, you may not even realize they were all part of the same waterfall.
If you’re coming from Skyline Drive, drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway and take the exit at Milepost 27 for Virginia highway 56. Head east for 6.5 miles and turn into the parking area on the right.
For starters, I want to mention that there is a $3 charge to park. Cash only. I’m not saying I didn’t know this beforehand, and I’m not saying I didn’t pay the $3. I will say that this is a poor attempt by the National Park Service to obtain some extra funding because there aren’t many people who just carry single bills around.
Additionally, there’s no one there to collect the money. Instead, you’re on the honor system when you pull up and grab an envelope from the information kiosk. At that point, you have a choice. You either turn around and leave (yeah, right) or you just tear off the tag to hang on your mirror and drive on to the lot. Legally, I can’t advocate not paying, but if you don’t have the cash on you when you arrive, I don’t think a park ranger is going to chase you down and demand you pay.
As for the hike – while a 1.4-miles, one-way, all uphill trek to the top of a mountain seems incredibly difficult, whoever designed this trail did the best possible job to make it as easy as possible. For starters, there are a few overlooks along the way that allow you to break the hike up into several stages so you don’t get overwhelmed. Additionally, there are enough switchbacks, steps, and ledges that keep you from over-exerting yourself to get to the end.