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The Retreat at Crabtree Falls

5 Hikes Around The Cabins at Crabtree Falls That You Won't Want to Miss!

Waterfall surrounded by trees

Located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Nelson County is home to a multitude of incredible hikes and views!  If you are visiting the area (or even if you live here) it may seem overwhelming trying to choose the best hike to enjoy during your time here in Nelson!  Worry not, fellow hikers- we don’t mind sharing a few of our favorite tips and bits of knowledge about our top recommendations for hikes to help you pick the very best hike for you and your crew!

Crabtree Falls surrounded by green trees

Crabtree Falls

The Crabtree Falls hike is certainly the most popular hike in the area, and for a good reason! This waterfall is one of the tallest sets of cascading falls in the United States east of the Mississippi River- measuring at 400 feet long! The hike itself is a moderate hike but beginners can absolutely complete the hike, especially if taking several rest breaks. Each of the five levels has benches for resting and enjoying the views of the falls and typically a refreshing mist floats off from the falls to cool you down.

The trail is 1.7 miles out to reach the top of the falls and 1.7 miles back. The first level of the falls is handicap accessible with a paved path allowing anyone to get a view of the beauty of the falls! Once past this viewpoint, the terrain is steep and rocky in several stretches with stairs that were added on to ease the steeper portions. During rainy seasons the trails do become muddy in several spots, so do keep your eye out so you don’t slip!

Hikers will be able to view the falls at several points prior to reaching the top- so if you’re hiking with others who don’t want to go all the way up, you’ll still see some of the best views of the falls even without reaching the top! Hikers should resist the urge to climb on the rocks in the river at the falls. The rocks are covered in a moss that is barely able to be seen and this moss causes them to become extremely slippery. Many injuries and multiple fatalities have occurred when hikers have ignored the many warning signs located along the path.

Once you reach the top of the falls, you’ll have an amazing view overlooking Fork Mountain and the surrounding Blue Ridge. There is the option to continue on up through the Crabtree Meadows once at the top or you can find a spot at the top to enjoy a picnic with your view! This hike is absolutely one you cannot miss when in the Nelson area! Regardless of the season, Crabtree Falls is an incredible, breathtakingly beautiful escape into nature.

autumn trees at the top of a mountain

Spy Rock

If you’re looking for one of the best 360º panoramic views of the Blue Ridge - this is the hike for you! The hike is approximately 2 miles long and is moderately strenuous with a rather large rock scramble at the top (don’t worry, it’s not too difficult, we’ve even seen pups at the top) but the views are well worth the effort! The viewpoint is 3,980 feet in elevation and the world seems endless from up there!

To access this hike, you’ll begin down at the Montebello Fish Hatchery. There are small signs leading you to the small parking lot. You’ll follow the firewood for about 1 mile before it intersects with the Appalachian Trail (look for white blazes!). Turn left onto the AT and follow it for about .7 miles to the rock scramble!

Pack a picnic lunch- the top of the rock is flat and perfect for picnic views. And please remember to bring water! You do not cross any water on this hike and it can be pretty exhausting if you forget to hydrate!

Two people sitting on Humpback Rocks mountain

Humpback Rocks

Another incredible hike with a 360º panoramic view is Humpback Rock. This hike begins in the Humpback parking lot just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, a little down from the Humpback Rock Visitor Center. This hike is a quick and steep ascend to the rocky ledges above. Rated a moderate hike, the steepness of the trail can tire hikers out but the trail is lined with benches for resting along the way. Once you reach the top, head for the slanted rock- the views are breathtaking! There are several levels of rocks hikers can climb upon, but be careful to stay back from the edge!

Peaceful Stream running through forest

Saint Mary’s Wilderness

Possibly one of the most enjoyable, fun, shaded and exciting hikes in the area that ends at a massive waterfall where hikers can swim! This hike has minimal elevation, it is a relatively flat hike that is shaded nearly the entire time. This easy-to-moderate hike is about 2 miles out and 2 miles back and does require hikers to cross the river several times- so prepare to wear shoes that can get wet! This trail is rocky and has several false trails that can be tricky, but, keep an eye out for red or orange flags in the trees or just follow the river upstream and you’ll find it’s an easy trail to follow. This hike is always a favorite of our guests and kids and pets love it too!

Small waterfall through rocks into pool of water

White Rock Falls

Looking for another hike that ends with a cool dip in the fresh mountain water? This 2.5 miles, beginners-level hike features an impressive gorge that has a beautiful waterfall with a wading pool for hikers looking to cool down! This hike follows the river and has several little spots off the trail for picnics on large, flat, shaded river rocks. There are small footbridges for hikers when crossing over the river, so no need to worry about your shoes getting wet during the hike! The waterfall and wading pool is great fun for families with pets and small children as well as adults!

To access this hike, take the Blue Ridge Parkway to Slacks Overlook. The trail is a small entrance about 60 north on the right side of the parkway.

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11100 Crabtree Falls Highway
Tyro, VA 22976

The Retreat at Crabtree Falls

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