Across Virginia

Cascade Falls Hike in Giles County: What to See

Casecade Falls
Cascade Falls. Copyright Scott S. Bateman

Cascade Falls in Giles County is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Virginia.

About 150,000 people visit the falls each year, according to the Giles County government. It is easy to see why.

The falls require an easy to moderate two-mile hike to see them. They drop 69 feet next to a pair of hundred foot cliff walls. The cliff walls are dominating in warm weather and stunning in the winter when large formations of ice hang from them.

Water comes from Little Stony Creek, which drops over the cliff in several different streams and forms a large wading pool at the bottom before continuing down the trail.

Some visitors lay on the rocks to watch and listen while others go wading or climb stairs to platforms that provide better views. Photographers will find many angles for shooting the falls.

The rocks provide many options for sitting down for lunch, snacks or relaxing. Visitors on this particular day seemed to stay at least an hour or more before going back to the parking lot.

Upper and Lower Trails

Cascades National Recreation Trail

The trail offers many attractive views of Little Stony Creek. © 2021 Scott S. Bateman

Cascade Falls is located in the Jefferson National Forest, and visitors will take the Cascades National Recreation Trail to get there from the parking lot.

The National Recreation Trail is actually two trails — the upper or Woodland Trail and the lower or Creekside Trail.

The Woodland Trail rises high above Little Stony Creek and provides aerial views of the area, but it does not provide the best views of the creek.

It is fairly steep but largely free of rocks on the trail.

The Creekside Trail is much rockier and runs right along the creek. It provides numerous points to stop by mini-falls, take a break and take photos. It also has four bridges that also provide photo and break opportunities.

The creek itself is quite pretty with large boulders strewn chaotically along the way. The trail occasionally has stone steps that make the hike easier.

Recommendation

Little Stony Creek

The lower trail is easy in the beginning. © 2021 Scott S. Bateman

Take the Creekside Trail going up to the falls and the Woodland Trail going back down to the parking lot. It is easier and the most popular way to go.

The hike up to the trail will take one to one and a half hours for anyone moderately fit. The trail meanders quite a bit and requires some moderate climbing over rocks now and then.

By the time a visitor reaches the falls, the two-mile hike will be somewhat tiring. But the falls make a surprising and powerful appearance that is rejuvenating.

Taking the Woodland Trail back is a direct route, will go much faster and will not require any strenuous climbing over rocks. Depending on the level of fitness, the return hike may take about 45 minutes.

Driving Directions

Take exit 118 on Highway I-81. Go north on US-460 and use the bypasses past Christiansburg and Blacksburg.

Go 26.6 miles and turn right on Cascade Drive (SR-T623) in Pembroke. Be aware of the fact that the turn is easy to overlook. Drive 3.3 miles to the entrance.

A parking fee costs $3. The parking lot has tables available for picnics and restrooms at the trailhead.

Horseback riding and mountain bikes are allowed.

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