Crabtree Falls Trail: A Scenic Hike in Nelson County

Crabtree Falls Trail, located in Nelson County, Virginia, is a popular destination for people. The trail is known for its stunning waterfalls and views, and if you’re in the area it is a must-visit spot.

Location: Tyro, Virginia
Trail Type: Out + Back
Distance: Approximately 3.6 mi
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
Elevation Gain: Approximately 1,135 feet

The trail is a moderate 3.6-mile hike that takes you up to a viewing platform alongside of the waterfalls which are the main attraction of this hike. Several spots along the trail allow you to stop and take in the different perspectives of the cascading water.

Crabtree Falls Trail is one of the most popular hikes and if you head out on the weekend, you will want to get there early to get a parking spot. Unless you during the week in December like I did then it isn’t going to be an issue as there was no one there.

Crabtree Falls small cascade

Location and Access

Crabtree Falls Trail is located in George Washington National Forest, near the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trailhead is easily accessible by car and is located off Route 56. There is ample parking available at the trailhead, but it can be crowded on weekends and holidays. There is also a $3.00 parking fee per car and is based on an honor system! So make sure you have cash and a pen to fill out the envelope to put into the box.

Trail Length and Difficulty

The Crabtree Falls Trail is a 3.6-mile round-trip hike that takes approximately 2-3 hours to complete. The trail is rated as moderate in difficulty and has an elevation gain of 1135 feet. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow, but there are some steep sections and rocky terrain.

Best Time to Visit

Crabtree Falls
Crabtree Falls December 20, 2023

The best time to visit Crabtree Falls Trail is during the spring and fall when the weather is mild and the foliage is at its peak. The trail can be crowded during the summer months, so it’s best to visit during the weekdays or early in the morning.

The trail is open year-round but before heading out visit the U.S. Forest Service Glenwood Pedlar Ranger District website for current conditions.

When choosing to go during the winter months, expect some icy conditions along the trail, as you can see in the picture. I went on this trail on December 20th when it was 30 degrees outside!

Have the right shoes on for this – I had ice spikes with me but didn’t use them.

Terrain and Scenery

The terrain consists of steep inclines, rocky paths, and wooden steps. You should be prepared for a strenuous climb, but the views make it well worth the effort.

Crabtree Falls - Rock Formation along the trail
Crabtree Falls – Rock Formation along the trail

Wildlife and Flora

Depending on what time of year you go will depend on what you see along the trail. The forest is home to a diverse range of birds, including woodpeckers and songbirds. You may even catch a glimpse of a deer or black bear. Since it was December, I didn’t see much of anything.

The trail is also lined with a variety of trees, including oak, hickory, and maple. In the spring, the forest floor is covered in wildflowers, adding a pop of color to the lush greenery.

Gear Recommendations

Before heading out on the Crabtree Falls Trail, have the appropriate gear. Wearing sturdy, comfortable hiking boots with good traction is important. Dress in layers, as temperatures can vary throughout the day. Don’t forget to bring a backpack with enough water and snacks.

Trail Safety Tips

Crabtree Falls Trail is indeed a beautiful and popular hiking destination, but people have lost their lives on this. trail for not adhering to the rules. Stay on the marked trail at all times. You will see signs along the trail indicating where a death has occurred because the person decided not to stay on the trail.

Parking and Restrooms

Crabtree Falls Trail provides parking for visitors as long as you get there early enough on the weekend or summer day.

Restrooms are available at the parking lot that are well-maintained.

Crabtree Falls from the top

Habitat Protection

Crabtree Falls Trail is located in the George Washington National Forest, which is managed by the United States Forest Service. The Forest Service has implemented several measures to protect the habitat and wildlife in the area. For example, the Forest Service has designated certain areas as wilderness, where human activities are restricted in order to preserve the natural environment. Additionally, the Forest Service has implemented regulations to prevent the introduction of invasive species, which can harm native plants and animals.

Visitor Guidelines

To ensure that visitors to Crabtree Falls Trail do not harm the environment, the Forest Service has established guidelines for visitors to follow. These guidelines include staying on designated trails, not disturbing wildlife, and properly disposing of trash. The Forest Service also encourages visitors to practice “Leave No Trace” principles, which include packing out all trash and minimizing impact on the environment.

Have you gone and visited Crabtree Falls?

German by birth, living, hiking, and camping in the US. Addicted to Coffee. Enjoys going to concerts. Also, Artist + Author. I love to encourage you to explore beyond your backyard. 

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