Friday, May 11, 2007

The Crabtree Falls: Crabtree Meadows

The Blue Ridge Parkway is known for its amazing scenic vistas, but there are also several waterfalls along the 469 mile roadway. One of the larger ones is located in the Crabtree Meadows. Crabtree Falls is about 60 feet tall, and is a very large cascading water fall.  It is tucked deep within the woods which removes most evidence of it being in the middle of a tourist mecca.

In Constant Turmoil

You can reach the trailhead to this waterfall by taking the Blue Ridge Parkway to milepost 339 in North Carolina (there is also a Crabtree Falls in Virginia). You will find a camp ground as well as an amphitheater. While you can pick up the trailhead from inside the camp ground, it is probably a good idea to pick up a map at the gift shop at the main parking lot. This map provides a good bit of detail about the falls, and some safety suggestions.

Once on the trail, plan to hike for a bit over a mile if coming from the main parking area. For the most part this is an easy to moderate hike. Only when you get close to the falls does the hike become a bit strenuous. This is one where you will be doing a lot of steep climbs and descents on loose boulders. There are some rocky stair cases built right at the falls to aid in moving up and down.

One of the things that I really enjoyed about this hike is that from about half way through the hike, you will join up with one of the waterfalls tributaries. The sound of the rushing water will really get you excited about seeing this waterfall. For the return trip, you can turn around and go back the same way you came, or you can continue on the loop trail for another 1.6 miles.

I was really not sure what to expect as I had only seen a couple of pictures of this waterfall previously. In fact, the first visit was completely unplanned, and was based more on the fact that I was nearby and the cloud cover seemed to be cooperating with me. I had no idea that this was going to be as impressive as it was. Trust me...this is one of the waterfalls you must see if you find yourself on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I've now been twice, and will probably go back many more times.

An interesting bit of information about this area is that in the early 1800's there was a corn mill here that ran on the strong current of the mountain streams. The water wheel was not vertical as most are, this was a tub mill which turned horizontally.