Although the week leading up to this short trip was filled with intentions to head to another more untrekked destination, my hamstrings, calves, and feet didn't quite recover from my exploits last weekend to the extent I felt was necessary to be a responsible solo backpacker. Instead of giving up and watching my already fat belly grow fatter, I decided to take a trip to Crabtree Falls in Nelson County, Virginia.
Crabtree Falls is arguably the most beautiful set of waterfalls in Virginia. Billed as the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, Crabtree Falls is a must see for anyone who lives in the mid-Atlantic region. As someone frequently skeptical of the biased journalism which depicts hikes unfairly just to sell hiking books, I can say with conviction that this hike definitely lived up to the hype. The trail is fairly bland as it travels along the falls, but it just keeps getting higher and higher and it's nice to see each gentile bend the falls take on the way down. Because the trail is located fairly deep in the Central Virginia mountains in an area known both for the amazing rugged scenery and the few somewhat scary teeth lacking people who inhabit the area, it is a bit of a pain to find. The constant switchbacks on the roads leading to this destination will leave even the strongest head swishing around in discomfort.
The falls are believed to be named after William Crabtree, who settled in the area in 1777. The Tye River, at the bottom of the falls, is named for Allen Tye, who did extensive exploration in the local Blue Ridge Mountains. The hike is roughly 4.4 miles from the lower parking lot to the top. There is no question I find more silly when hiking a trek with the intention to get to the top of a waterfall then when a passerby says "how much longer". Well, being that rain falls from the sky, and waterfalls start when the rain hits the highest part of the ground (i.e. the summit), then it sure seems to me that the answer to this question could be more easily found by simply....looking up as the peak of the mountain will give a pretty good idea of "how much longer". If one still sees trail in front of them, they need to keep walking. I entertained myself when asked this question several times as I was on the way back down by a handful of folks who also braved the poor weather.
Unfortunately, despite my intent to find a good short day hike to accomodate my ailing body, I picked a hike which required good weather to fully appreciate. The day I hiked Crabtree Falls, Central Virginia was in the middle of being the recipient of approximately 3-4" of rain. As a result, the views of this amazing area were hidden under a cloud of rain and fog which only worsened with the higher I climbed. With that said, I vowed to myself to return again, perhaps in the fall, when the weather is a little more transparent so I can fully appreciate this amazing site.