Crabtree Falls is located in the Crabtree Falls Recreation Area on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 339.5. This 70 foot waterfall is accessed by a very nice hiking trail that offers an out an back option or a slightly longer loop hike. Crabtree Falls is a gorgeous waterfall, that is well worth the hike.
Roundtrip Distance: 3 Miles for the out and back option, 3.5 Miles for the loop trail
Difficulty: Moderate for the out and back trail, Strenuous for the loop trail
Features:Beautiful dense hardwood forest, bridges, natural stairs, wildflowers, and waterfall
Directions:From Asheville NC, take the Parkway North to Milepost 339.5. Parking will be on your left, and the trailhead is just across from the store.
Recommended Gear: Good hiking boots or shoes, Daypack, Dayhiker First Aid Kit, Sunscreen, some snacks, plenty of water. If you want to wade in the water, bring some towels, a bathing suit, and some good water shoes are really helpful.
Crabtree Falls and Crabtree Falls Trail
Crabtree Falls is accessed from the extension trailhead located next to the parking area near the Parkway, and across from the store. The old parking area is in the campground itself, and the actual real trailhead is located .25 miles from this parking lot, at the old parking area.
There will be signs pointing you to the extension trailhead just after you enter the Crabtree Falls Recreation area, and pass the picnic area (which has bathrooms) at Milepost 339.5.
The the extension trail is flat and easy. You’ll pass through some woods, and then pass the Amphitheater for the Crabtree Falls campground. Just after passing the Amphitheater, you’ll see the sign to the right, just go left towards Loop – A, where you will continue into the campground.
The trail will take you to the Loop A road in the campground. Almost directly across from you as you reach the loop road will be the actual real trailhead for the trail itself. The old parking lot will be to your right – It is no longer used due to being to small to handle the volume of visitors.
Crabtree Falls Trailhead
At the trailhead by the old parking lot is a large sign and trail map. We took a picture not only to share with you, but to have for reference as we hiked.
From the trailhead, the trail for the most part descends towards the falls at a slow incline. During the first part of the trail, it’s wide and easy to walk on. You’ll be surrounded by Rosebay Rhododendron, that are beautiful in July.
Shortly after, you’ll reach the intersection of the loop trail where it returns from the falls. Just go right and down to reach the falls. The trail begins wide and easy, but gets progressively steeper, more narrower and rougher.
The walk down is fairly easy, and the more steep parts of the trail have natural stairs, that the National Park Service has done an excellent job with. The trail will switchback a few times.
Once the trail narrows and begins to become rougher, you’ll hear the falls in the distance, and during the winter and spring, you’ll see the Crabtree Falls shortly after in the distance to your left a little. Before reaching the falls, the trail will flatten out, and become very easy again.
The trail emerges at the falls, below it, with a very nice wooden bridge spanning the creek below the falls. Here is the view you’ll see as you reach the waterfall.
As you can see, this is a gorgeous waterfall. We visited in the Spring, after heavy rains, so the flow was very strong. The best view of Crabtree Falls is from the the other side of the bridge. This is a very photogenic falls though, and good photo locations are located on both sides, and from the bridge.
At the base of the falls is a shallow wading pool, that seems to be perfect to cool off in during the summer.
We spent a good two hours just sitting on the rocks, exploring the falls, and enjoying the wonderful weather and sounds of Crabtree Falls. We saw people, mostly families, but it wasn’t terribly busy at all. We finally decided it was time to head out, and debated on whether or not to do the loop trail back or just head back on the same trail we took to the falls.
We elected to head up the stone steps on the far side of the bridge, and take the loop trail home. This is a strenuous trail for the first .5 mile or so. Very steep, and short sections of the trail have some very serious drops. Once your reach the top of the ridge, the trail is easy to moderate, but that first .5 mile was tough, and we took lots of breaks on the way up. They aren’t kidding about this part being “strenuous”.
The loop trail takes you alongside the creek above the Falls, and is really gorgeous. Follow the signs back to the Amphitheater to return to the short trail back to the parking lot. Towards the end of the trail, it will go left or straight. Going left will take you back to the original trail you started on, going straight will take you out into the campground and you can find the extension trail to the left. This is the route we decided to take as it seemed more direct.
Crabtree Falls is an absolutely gorgeous waterfall, with a tall and wide cascade. The area around the falls is dense wood, with lots to see, including creeks, wildflowers, and numerous types of trees. Not only are the falls beautiful, but the trail itself makes for a great hike, that isn’t too terribly difficult, but challenging enough to be fun, and provide some good exercise.
Crabtree Falls Photo Gallery
Here are all of the photos we took in full-size versions. Hope you enjoy!