Tucked away in the scenic confines of the Atlantic Ocean and the majestic Appalachian Mountains, Virginia is arguably one of the most beautiful states in the southern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. Dubbed as the birthplace of America, this captivating metropolis is known for its awe-inspiring natural beauty and intriguing history, which are both as diverse its people. From the uplifting vibes of the Blue Ridge Mountain to the breathtaking scenery of the grand Shenandoah Valley, and from the rustic charms of the Chesapeake Bay to the rolling hills of the lush pine forests, Virginia presents itself as a premium destination for exhilarating outdoor adventures. So, if you are planning on a visit here, keep reading this article for a list of the best and most recommended waterfall hikes in Virginia, USA.
Trip101 recommends assessing the risks before hitting the hiking and trekking trails. Please be especially aware of the difficulty levels, the locations’ ground conditions, as well as the seasonal risks.
1. Scotts Run Waterfall
If you’re craving an exciting adventure experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the blissful outdoorsy wonders of Virginia, then a sightseeing hike to Scotts Run Waterfall may be worth your while. A natural place of astounding beauty, this gorgeous attraction is one of the most favorite hikes for most area residents and visitors alike, considering its picturesque surroundings and relatively short scenic trails. Nestled in McLean and bordered by the Potomac River to its North, this captivating landmark covers 136ha (336ac) and it also serves as a prime recreation area for hikers and nature lovers.
Scotts Run Waterfall
Address: 7400 VA-193, McLean, VA 22102, United States
Website: Scotts Run Waterfall
2. Great Falls of the Potomac - Fairfax County
Another captivating waterfall hike in McLean that shouldn’t miss on your bucket list is the Great Falls. A series of fascinating rapids and amazing waterfalls 23km (14mi) upstream the Potomac River from Washington D.C, Great Falls straddles the borders of Montgomery County, Maryland, and Fairfax County, Virginia, making it a stunning landmark and a gem for adventure seekers and nature lovers. Boasting three breathtaking overlooks on the Virginia side of Great Falls Park, visitors here get to relish easy access to incredible views of the dramatic falls from several angles. For those of you looking for a rather quiet hiking alternative contrary to the popular Mather Gorge route, follow the North River Trail, which stretches 1.5mi (2.4km) to the Riverbend Park, passing through locks, canals, to Matildaville - a ghost town built for families tending the canal systems centuries ago.
Great Falls of the Potomac - Fairfax County
Address: Montgomery County, Maryland and Fairfax County, Virginia
3. Overall Run Falls
For those of you in the area looking to find a more adventurous waterfall hike, make your way to the alluring Overall Run Falls, which happens to be the highest falls in Shenandoah National Park. Located at the end of the Mathew’s Arm Trailhead, it will take you about 6.8mi (10.9km) to get in and around this fantastic natural splendor. Offering immersive surroundings and scenic backdrops with open cliffs and unobstructed views, you get to watch as the falls tumble a staggering 93ft (28m) down to the canyon below.
Overall Run Falls
Address: Skyline Drive MP 21.5 Shenandoah National Park Luray, VA 22835
Website: Overall Run Falls
4. Hazel Falls
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Another captivating and stellar waterfall hike located in ‘Hazel country’ in Shenandoah’s National Park, is the exhilarating Hazel Falls. A serene route pulsating with tranquility and natural beauty, the trail here traverses gentle hills and hollows, following the Hazel River to a deep stone amphitheater where you can relax and soak up some of Virginia’s levitating outdoor sceneries. Rated a moderate hike covering about 5.3km (3.2mi) out and back, this scenic trail is used primarily, not only for hiking but also for strolling, nature trips and birdwatching.
Address: Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, US
Website: Hazel Falls
5. Whiteoak Canyon
Located in the pristine confines of Shenandoah National Park, Whiteoak Canyon is yet another impressive waterfall hike that allows you to absorb and get in tune with Virginia’s magical outdoors and natural wonders. Being one of the most popular destinations in the national park, Whiteoak Canyon, and it’s six alluring falls, boast impressive heights towering up to 86ft (26m) with swimming holes at the bottom of each waterfall. Tucked away in Madison County is a trailhead leading to the first lower falls from the parking lot. If you’re more adventurous, the relatively arduous hike along the strenuous Whiteoak Circuittrail provides jaw-dropping views of a few waterfalls.
Address: 187 Chad Berry Ln, Syria, VA 22743, United States
Website: Whiteoak Canyon
6. Dark Hollow Falls
Regarded as one of the most accessible waterfall hikes in Virginia, Dark Hollow Falls commences near the Big Meadow area in the scenic confines of the Shenandoah National Park. With short trails featuring compelling sceneries and a beautiful display of amazing waterfalls and cascades, Dark Hollow Falls is one of the most popular hikes in the park, traversing approximately 1.8mi (2.8km) out and back. From Skyline Drive, follow the Dark Hollow Falls Trail down to the base of the falls and back on the same route. This exciting hike takes about 4 to 5 hours.
Dark Hollow Falls
Address: Rose River Ln, Syria, VA 22743, United States
Website: Dark Hollow Falls
Opening hours: 24hours (daily)
7. South River Falls
Nothing spells out a quintessential waterfall hike like trodding on picturesque trailheads, which take you on meandering pathways as you soak up the tranquility and panoramic views of the inspiring surroundings. And such is the case with the South River Falls in Shenandoah National Park. With the nearest town in Elkton, this memorable hike covers a total area of about 4.2mi (6.7km) out and back, starting on the rear end of the South River Picnic Area near mile marker 62.7. From an outcrop just a mile or so from the trailhead, you can feast your eyes on the enchanting scenery as you gaze upon the falls as it drops over a rock face and splits into two chutes.
South River Falls
Address: Stanardsville, VA 22973, United States
Website: South River Falls
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
8. Doyles River Falls
Take the fun to new heights with a visit to a wonderful pair of alluring cataracts at the Doyles River Falls in Shenandoah National Park. Taking about 3mi (5km) to get back and forth this scenic wonder, hikers get a chance to relish the peaceful setting along the well-maintained trails and footpaths to the captivating viewpoint. Hikers from the parking lot at MP81.1 on the Skyline Drive, can access the falls via a trailhead towards the left of the sign with the trail map, crossing over the Appalachian trail to the blue-blazed trail, which leads to the falls.
Doyles River Falls
Address: Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, US
Website: Doyles River Falls
9. White Rock Falls
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Off the Blue Ridge Parkway, White Rock Falls is yet again another simple waterfall hike in Virginia for adventure seekers of all ages and abilities. A soothing place of mesmerizing beauty and palpable tranquility, White Rock Falls is a captivating waterfall that drops 30ft (9m) into a rocky gorge. To get to the falls, descend 5mi (8km) following a tributary of the White Rock Creek to a wonderful overlook, where you can gaze as the falls drop down into the Tye River Valley.
White Rock Falls
Address: Vesuvius, VA 24483, United States
Website: White Rock Falls
10. Crabtree Falls
Arguably one of the highest cascading waterfalls east of the Mississippi River, and undoubtedly the highest in Virginia, Crabtree Falls is a fascinating hiking destination in Nelson County, just 6mi (9.6km) off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway near milepost 27. Featuring a stunning series of five major cascades and dramatic falls totaling a staggering distance of 1200ft (365m), hikers get to enjoy their first overlook on a scenic trail, just a few yards from the parking lot, making it a convenient stopover for hikers of all ages. For those of you looking to get a bit more adventurous, continue along the 3mi (4.8km) paved trail to four other overlooks, and reward yourself with even more spectacular views of the beautiful falls.
Address: 11581 Crabtree Falls Highway, Montebello, VA 24464
Website: Crabtree Falls
Delight in Virginia's hidden gems
If you’re in the mood of making fantastic outdoor discoveries in Virginia, a visit to any of these outstanding waterfall hikes will not fail to amaze you! Wind down in the soothing surroundings and bask in the beauty of nature away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
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