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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!