Located along one of the prettiest stretches of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Crabtree Falls is only a little over an hour outside of Asheville, NC. Crabtree Falls make a great day trip, especially if you tie in the nearby Mt. Mitchell, the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi.
Considered moderate to strenuous, the hike to Crabtree Falls is steep, but easy to do. However, of course you have to come back up from the falls, this can be the challenge.
We’ll go over the two routes to the falls, and what to expect while you’re there.
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How To Find Crabtree Falls?
First thing to note about finding Crabtree Falls is to make sure your GPS doesn’t send you to Virginia. Funny enough, the falls with the same namesake is just off the Blue Ridge Parkway about five hours north from here, near Waynesboro, VA.
Second thing to note, 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, this area won’t get you to Crabtree Falls.
Parking can be a hassle. Though there are about 50 parking spaces, they fill up fast. However, lots of folks make informal parking around the paved parking lot.
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 really run down amphitheater. The trail branches when it gets to the campground.
The shorter trail ( .9 mile) Route A, is to the right, which is the one we recommend taking on the way down. It’s steep, but easily doable. However, hiking sticks would really come in handy on this hike.
The longer trail (1.6 miles) Route B, 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 trail we recommend taking. 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 The Route A Down To Crabtree Falls
Three large switchbacks wind the trail quickly down towards the waterfall. Other than 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.
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 there during our visit, it was difficult to get a tripod photo without someone walking over and shaking the bridge.
Another spot I really liked was from the rocks along the right side of the stream. This also allowed me to get a little closer to Crabtree Falls and really show the scale of the 60-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 I got lucky to get in a few photos before another visitor sat on the rocks below, well within my frame.
Long Trail Back From Crabtree Falls
Originally we planned to just go back the way we came, via 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 flatted. From here it was a 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 doing 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.