Crabtree Falls (not to be confused with the one in Virginia) was probably the prettiest of the waterfalls we saw that were directly accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
What this 70ft waterfall on Big Crabtree Creek had going for it was its rippling texture amidst a plethora of Autumn colors. Indeed, it was another one of those waterfalls that Julie liked because it had “character.” And apparently we weren’t the only ones partial to this waterfall, because it was certainly popular despite the upside-down 2-mile round trip out-and-back hike (I swear it felt a lot longer) that was all downhill on the way there and all uphill on the way back.
I don’t think the two miles included the extra ten minutes of walking from the visitor center car park to the Crabtree Meadows campground (where the actual trailhead began). Most people (like us) didn’t know about the closer trailhead parking by the campground, but then again, there wasn’t that many parking spaces there anyways. In any case, there’s far more parking spaces by the visitor center.
There was also the option to do a longer loop hike (making the round trip distance 2.5 miles instead of 2), but we met some folks who did it and didn’t recommend it. I guess given the amount of uphill walking on the way back to the trailhead, I don’t blame them for not desiring to prolong the physical challenge without other obvious natural attractions other than meandering in a tranquil forest. The trail got a bit rockier and uneven the further down we went, but for the most part, it was just like most dirt trails.
There was a footbridge in front of the falls offering nice views. If there’s not a whole lot of foot traffic on the footbridge and you’re not aspiring to be a professional photographer, it’s possible to use that bridge as a pseudo tripod (to save you from the trouble of lugging a tripod on this trail).
In addition to the footbridge, we (like several others) scrambled closer to the falls from both sides of the stream to experiment with different compositions of the falls. Given the tranquil, picturesque scenery with the Autumn colors and this pretty cascading waterfall with character while facing a moderate uphill climb back to the trailhead, we definitely weren’t in any hurry to leave.
It took us over 90 minutes to do the hiking and photographing starting and ending at the visitor center.
On the Blue Ridge Parkway, look for mile post 339.5 (roughly 42 miles northeast of Asheville) where the well-signed turnoff for both Crabtree Meadows and the Crabtree Falls Visitor Center is on the north side of the road. We noticed that this section of the Blue Ridge Parkway is referred to as Little Switzerland. We weren’t sure why this was the case, but we’d imagine it might be because of the numerous tunnels weaving in and out of mountains kind of like how some parts of the real Switzerland are like.
We drove here from Linville Falls, whose access road is 23 miles further east on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Strangely enough, our Mapsource map indicated that we visited “Upper Falls” while Crabtree Falls was much further downstream. I’m not sure if the map is mistaken or if there’s another Crabtree Falls in the area. In any case, that kind of threw us off and got us questioning our GPS for a while. Hopefully, this writeup will prevent that type of confusion (assuming you used a GPS/MapSource combo like we did).
As for some geographical context, Asheville was 35 miles (under an hour drive) north of Brevard, 63 miles (about 90 minutes drive) north of Greenville, South Carolina, and 130 miles (over 2 hours drive) west of Charlotte, and 247 miles (4 hours drive) west of Raleigh.
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