Side view Crabtree Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

Crabtree Falls: Easy Day Trip from Asheville, NC

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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.

Crabtree Falls Pinterest Image

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

sign for Crabtree Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

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

Hike down to Crabtree Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

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

Crabtree Falls in Autumn, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

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.

If you have the spot to yourself, take advantage of the little built in bench on the bridge. On a quiet day, I reckon I could sit there for hours just admiring the waterfall.
Stream and Crabtree Falls in Autumn, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

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.

upclose Crabtree Falls in Autumn, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

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.

Crabtree Falls from top ledge, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

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.

Trail at Crabtree Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

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.

View of trees in Autumn at Crabtree Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

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.

Creek at Crabtree Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
Autumn trees at Crabtree Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

What Is Near CrabTree Falls?

If you’re up for another waterfall hike, head about 40 minutes to the most popular waterfall on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Falls.

Another nearby must see is Mt. Mitchell State Park, home to the highest mountain east of the Mississippi.

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.

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