Hike Crabtree Falls Trail: One Of The Best Waterfalls On The Blue Ridge Parkway

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Once I saw the Crabtree Falls hike I knew we had to do it. I had a busy day planned for us with Grassy Creek Falls, Crabtree Falls and one more nearby, but we only made it to the first two and this one was so much better!

Don’t get me wrong, Grassy Creek Falls was cool but Crabtree Falls was so much cooler! We got to the trailhead mid-day and set out with the intentions of just turning back at the falls, not doing the full Crabtree Falls loop trail.

Mystery caterpillar

The hike in is all downhill, which is great, but as you’re hiking down you just think about having to go back up all of it. Trust me, it’s worth it. Right away I saw this cool yellow caterpillar at the bottom of a tree.

A lady behind me stopped me and asked what I saw so I told her and I can’t remember what she said these were but that there is a whole festival for them! Now, though, I’m thinking she was telling me about a different one because I think she said “hairy” was in the name but this one isn’t hairy at all.

If you know what this little guy is, please let me know! My Googling is not coming up with anything.

We kept going down the trail which was mostly covered in leaves. Some bits were rocky and muddy, but it wasn’t anything super crazy.

Eventually we came to some stone stairs which, like bridge in the woods, I always love. There were some steepish drops along one side, but again, nothing terribly crazy.

I wouldn’t let this convince you not to do it if you’re afraid of heights, just know it’s there. These drops aren’t huge, like hundreds of feet or anything, and there is enough room on the trail.

Finally we made it down to the falls! There were quite a few people milling around down here taking pictures, admiring the falls. There were also a few people that were just wandering around as close to the falls as you could get, ruining everyone else’s pictures which was very annoying.

I maybe got two pictures without those people in it, so if you want to get that close, do it quickly (but carefully because the rocks will be slippery) and try to stay out of the way as much as you can.

It’s kind of like Delicate Arch. If you want a picture of it without people you have to be patient and quick to snap pictures as people move from under it before more people get there.

After a while at the bottom we decided we might as well just finish the loop trail. It’s not that much longer. I’m so glad we did because there was no one else on this side! Like, we literally saw no one else until we were back to the main campground area.

It was super steep and a lot of work but totally worth it to have the trail to ourselves. There were more little bridges, more mushrooms, and more solitude. I would definitely recommend doing the full Crabtree Falls loop trail, not just the hike to Crabtree Falls and back out the way you came.

I’m so glad we did the Crabtree Falls trail! It was something I learned about just a day or two before but figured the 60-foot falls could be cool and they were. The hike was great and the falls were amazing. This definitely needs to be on your North Carolina bucket list.

Part of the trail out

Where is the Crabtree Falls trailhead?

The Crabtree Falls trailhead is right by the Crabtree Falls campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s about 5 miles from Little Switzerland and Grassy Creek Falls, just before milepost 339.

How long is the Crabtree Falls hike?

The Crabtree Falls loop trail is about 2.5 miles. If you just hike to the falls and out the way you went in, it will be about 1.8 miles. I would recommend just doing the whole loop.

There are a little over 1,000 feet of elevation gain in the loop trail, so be prepared for that. This is for the whole loop but I would guess it’s similar if you just go out the way you went in.

If you return the way you came, it is going to be steeper than the other side of the loop trail, but shorter. That starts with some steepish switchbacks, but evens out. The way you went in will be more difficult but I think it’s what more people do.

How long do you need for the Crabtree Falls trail?

1.5 – 2 hours should be plenty of time to hike the whole Crabtree Falls loop trail. As always, that will depend on how fast you walk and how much you stop.

From the falls, no matter which way you go, you’ll be going up a lot. The hike in will go much faster than the way out. We stopped quite a bit on our way out because it was pretty steep.

What to bring on the Crabtree Falls hike

Water bottle – It’ll be hot and you’ll need to stay hydrated.  Even if it’s not hot you need to stay hydrated.  A Hydro Flask will keep your water ice cold all day long.

Sunscreen – If you plan on being outside, you’ll want sunscreen.  I like the Neutrogena a lot, but if you’ll be visiting a beach soon, you’ll want a reef-safe sunscreen.

Hat – You’ll want some kind of hat to keep the sun out of your eyes.  A baseball hat should be fine but a bucket hat or sun hat could help keep the sun off your neck.

Sunglasses – This is a must no matter where you are.  Sunglasses are best paired with a hat on those really bright days.

Light Jacket – Because you just never know.  Weather can change quickly depending on where you are, time of day, and season.  I usually use my rain jacket for this.

Good hiking shoes – If you’re hiking when it’s warmer, Chacos will be good.  If it’s fall, muddy, or a little cooler out, you’ll want closed toe shoes.

Is the Crabtree Falls trail worth it?

Absolutely! This was one of my favorite hikes during our time in North Carolina. It was moderately difficult but it was so worth it. I got to see that crazy yellow caterpillar, some mushrooms, and lions mane! It has stairs and a cool bridge, would definitely recommend it.

Have you hiked the Crabtree Falls trail? What did you think of it? Do you want to go?

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