Located along one of the prettiest stretches of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Crabtree Falls is only a little over an hour outside of Asheville, making it a great day trip. It’s even easy to tie in the nearby Mt. Mitchell, the tallest mountain on the East Coast.
Considered moderate to strenuous, the hike to Crabtree Falls is steep, but easy to do. However, it’s the hike back up that earns the trail its strenuous status.
In this post, we explain the two different routes to the falls, and some tips on where to get great angles for photos.
How To Find Crabtree Falls?
First thing about finding Crabtree Falls, is to make sure your GPS doesn’t send you to Virginia. Funny enough, a waterfall with the same namesake is also just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, but about five hours north from here, near Waynesboro, VA.
Second thing, if you’re using Google Maps, the hiking trail for Crabtree Falls is in the wrong spot. The best way to find it is by using directions to Crabtree Meadows Campground.
Also, don’t confuse it with the Crabtree Falls Picnic Area. The picnic area won’t get you to Crabtree Falls.
Parking can be a hassle. Though there are about 50 parking spaces, they fill up fast.
Two Routes to Crabtree Falls
From the parking lot, head towards the campground via the trail from the back of the parking lot. This will take you past the run down amphitheater. The trail branches when it gets to the campground.
Route A is the shorter trail (0.9 mile) to the right, which is the one we recommend taking on the way down. It’s steep, but easily doable. However, hiking sticks are really handy on this hike.
Route B is the longer trail (1.6 miles). The trail is more gradual, but also has a steep section of switchbacks as you get close to Crabtree Falls. Though this route is longer, if you have challenges with rocky and wet terrain, you may want to consider using this trail.
The Loop Trail (2.5 miles) uses Route A to go down, then returns to the parking area via Route B. This is the route we recommend. It’s a quick reward down to the waterfall, with a more gradual return. Plus, Route B is far quieter, with really gorgeous scenery.
From the parking lot, it’s just over 3 miles for the loop and takes roughly 2 – 2.5 hours.
Hiking Down Route A to Crabtree Falls
Three large switchbacks wind the trail quickly down towards the waterfall.
In addition to the steepness of the trail, the other challenge is the slippery and rocky terrain. Several spots require making your way over tiny streams flowing over slick rocks.
Honestly, we spent most of the time watching our feet, it was hard to notice any of the incredible scenery.
Getting Photos At Crabtree Falls
The sweet little wooden bridge makes a fantastic spot for photos right over the stream. Though, there were so many people during our visit it was difficult to get the bridge to ourselves. Every time someone walked on the bridge it shook the tripod, making long exposures a challenge.
Another spot we really liked was from the rocks along the right side of the stream. This allowed us to get a little closer to Crabtree Falls and really show the scale of the 70-foot waterfall.
Finally, we climbed the stairs on the right side of the falls. The small ledge provided an eye level view of the gorgeous cascades. Though we were only able to get a few photos before another visitor sat on the rocks below, well within our frame.
Route B - The Long Trail Back from Crabtree Falls
Originally, we planned to go back the way we came, via Route A the short trail. However, after witnessing the panting struggles of those we met on our way down, we decided the longer 1.6-mile route might be better.
To our surprise, we were quickly met by another set of steep and narrow switchbacks. Not nearly as bad as the shorter trail side, but definitely a breath taker.
Once we got to the top, the trail widened and flattened. From here it was a long, but pleasant walk through the forest.
Visit Crabtree Falls in late spring or autumn for the best flowers and foliage. We were lucky enough to be there for autumn, and the color on the leaves was magnificent on this side of the trail.
What Is Near CrabTree Falls?
Where To Stay in Asheville, NC?
Most visitors to this area of the Blue Ridge Parkway stay in and around Asheville, NC. Famous for its brewery district, sweet little bed and breakfasts, and its laid-back atmosphere, it makes the perfect vacation destination.
- For some Victorian era charm, try The 1899 Wright Inn & Carriage House bed and breakfast. A little outside of town, but that makes it quiet with free parking.
- To stay closer to the attractions and the breweries, the Kimpton Hotel offers stunning accommodation with a prime location.
- Another popular option are holiday homes and cabins. Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds is in an amazingly convenient location, close to the city and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Plus, they offer various size houses in a serene location.
Best Books on The Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway releases a free seasonal travel planner. These useful books can be picked up at any visitor center, and many grocery stores have them in the free publishing racks at the store entrance.
However, if you plan on lots of hiking, you’ll need something with more detail. We have the larger Falcon Guides Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway: The Ultimate Travel Guide and the smaller pocket size Best Easy Day Hikes Blue Ridge Parkway. We find them invaluable.