Monday, August 12, 2013

Cascade Falls, Virginia

Before our first visit to Roanoke, we contacted an acquaintance in that town and asked for recommendations of places to visit. She gave us several, and at the top of the list was Cascade Falls, located in Jefferson National forest just outside of Pembroke, VA.

It's a popular destination despite the two-mile hike (one way) along Little Stony Creek with good reason. No matter which direction you view it from, it's gorgeous.


Directions to Cascade Falls are found online at www.roanokeoutside.com/cascade-falls-trail and in Kevin Adams' Waterfalls of Virginia and West Virginia (page 58). It's important to note the Marathon station mentioned in the first set of directions is no longer there. At the time of this writing, the gas station is called Liberty. Because of that, we missed the turn and drove west for several miles. If you're unfamiliar with the area, we recommend setting your GPS to the intersection of Virginia Avenue and Cascades Dr. If you're coming in from the east (driving westbound) you'll see the gas station on the right and a bank on the left.




After stopping at the outfitter store housed in the gas station, (Tangent Outfitters at the time of this writing) which has a little bit of everything, we turned north on Cascade Dr and continued on for several miles. The road ends at the parking lot for the falls, where we paid a small fee and set off down the trail.

Just past the trailhead, hikers have two options: the scenic route and the fast one. Cross the bridge to hike along Little Stony Creek, where you'll hear the bubbling of water rushing over boulders in the stream and see peaceful cascades.

Copyright 2013 K Buffaloe
Copyright 2013 K Buffaloe

Approximately one mile later, hikers can cross another bridge. If one turns back here, it makes a two-mile loop. But continue on to the falls, which are hidden from view by boulders. Just past the opening, the scene is breathtaking. Sit and relax at one of the overlooks and enjoy the view. While we were there, several people swam or waded in the pool of water, and others edged close to the falls despite signs warning them not to.

As always, don't climb on rocks around waterfalls and always be careful when stepping on rocks in and around streams, even if they look dry. In a breath of time, your feet can easily slide out from beneath you, and you won't realize it until you hit the water--or the rock.

As I mentioned earlier, hikers have two options at the first bridge: the scenic route along Little Stony Creek, and option two, a gravel road that ascends to a path leading to the falls. If you're not in the mood for hiking over rocks and roots (see photo to the right) option two is the way to go. 

The total length of the hike is just short of four miles, so take plenty of water and a snack, and give yourself time to hike the entire trail.

To the lovely couple we met at the overlook, thank you for allowing me to "steal" your scenery for a time. It was a pleasure to meet you. We enjoyed our chat.

And Gina, thanks for the recommendations. We've grown quite fond of the Roanoke area, and we hope to cross off everything on the list you gave us.

Next up: Roanoke, McAfee Knob




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