Hiking Hotspot: Crabtree Falls on the Blue Ridge Parkway
One of the prettiest waterfalls on the Blue Ridge Parkway is located within close proximity to Asheville. If you plan on making Asheville your base for outdoor adventures, you will be within easy access to so many breathtaking Western North Carolina waterfalls. Crabtree Falls is really one of the most stunning falls, not only on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but also in the entire WNC region. This is no small feat in a region with over 200 waterfalls. Located at Milepost 339.5 of the Parkway, you are within easy reach of many other notable sights including the North Carolina Museum of Minerals.
The Blue Ridge Parkway
The 469 mile Parkway drive, which runs through 29 counties in Virginia and North Carolina, is the most popular National Park Service site in the country. With over 15 million visitors per year, it’s more heavily visited than runners up the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Golden Gate Recreation area, according to the NPS. The Highlands section which runs a scenic route from Milepost 217 along the NC/VA border, to Crabtree Falls at Milepost 339, is home to many national wonders including jaw dropping waterfalls, stunning rock formations, and awe inspiring mountains. Grandfather Mountain and Linville Falls are the 2 must-dos along this portion of the drive.
The hike to Crabtree Falls
Seeing this mesmerizing 70 foot waterfall in person requires a moderate hike of 2.5 miles. As many waterfalls in the region require much more effort to see a sub par waterfall, this one is really worth exploring. The trail begins at Crabtree Falls campground at Parkway Milepost 339. For this hike, you have two options. Beginning on Loop A, you will embark on a gradual 0.9 mile downhill descent to the falls. You can make this a relatively easy out-and-back hike of under 2 miles. Or, continue on the full loop (another 1.7 miles) and enjoy a bit more time out in nature. Even the full loop is mostly moderate, asides from a short but steep switchback near the beginning of the loop.
A few beautiful views from the trail
The waterfall is enchanting, and no picture really does justify. This is hands down one of the most beautiful waterfalls in North Carolina. The setting is particularly enchanting as the water dramatically flows down a 60 foot rock cliff. There are many gorgeous photo opps here. Really, it’s just a peaceful place to rejuvenate in uninterrupted nature for a bit. You can look forward to gorgeous wildflowers during the summer season and amazing foliage in autumn.
The entire trail is very beautiful, although it is heavily trafficked much of the year, so expect crowds. Fortunately, once you start the loop, the traffic begins to die down. Many tourists choose the out-and-back route, so the full loop is the perfect option for the more avid hiker who wants to enjoy a tranquil trek through a lovely oak-hickory forest.
Things to do in the vicinity
Museum of North Carolina Minerals – This is the closest visitor’s center to the falls. Located at Milepost 331 (about a 15 minute drive), it’s a great add on activity to incorporate into your plans. While small, the museum is free and features a number of interactive exhibits where you can learn more about the history of mining, as well as the various minerals found in the Blue Ridge region.
Locations & Parking details
You will park at the campground located at 39000 Blue Ridge Parkway, Marion, NC 28752 at MP 339.5. Parking is free. Restrooms and picnicking facilities in the campground area.
Where to eat
There is a great little picnicking area with dozens of tables and leafy surroundings (open May 14-Oct 31). Bring with your own lunch and enjoy the fresh rustic surroundings. Alternatively, if the weather is too hot/too cold, opt to fuel up in Asheville before your visit. As it is quite a lengthy drive (1 hour) from the city, you will want to eat a decent breakfast before you embark on the journey. Plan 1.5- 2 hours for the total hike. A few great breakfast options:
All Day Darling – Great local coffeeshop/cafe. Delicious pastries and coffee.
Biscuit Head – Cathead biscuits with gravy flights and a self service jam bar.
Abeja’s – Latin American cafe which serves great burritos and Mexican based breakfast fare.
City Bakery – Delicious local coffee and homemade bakery selections.