208 – Crabtree Falls

Accessibility – Moderate

Height: Approx 70′

Distance – 2.3 (out and back)

Beauty – 8

Photo rating – 7

Solitude – 5

GPS Info: LAT 35.8199 LONG -82.1493

Last updated – 07-17-2017


Crabtree Falls is easily accessed off the Blue Ridge Parkway and reaching it follows a defined trail. The falls is nearly 70 feet high and the area in front is littered with boulders of all sizes. Out of the boulders a single tree is growing and it will be in most any picture taken from the bridge below the falls. There is ample parking in the paved parking area but the lot will fill up as we learned on our visit. We arrived early, before 10 a.m. and there were only a few cars. By the time we got back before noon, the lot was full!

To access the trailhead, follow the Blue Ridge Parkway to milepost 339.5. This is between Mt Mitchell and Little Switzerland. We accessed it from NC221 and it wasn’t a long drive on the parkway. The parking area is right off the parkway not far from a small building that sits roadside. The lot curves around to the left. The further into the lot you go the further from the trailhead you’ll be.

The trailhead is located at the end of the parking lot closest to the parkway. The initial section is paved and lighted as it leads into the campground. As it emerges from the trees you will see a small ampitheater on the left. The trail will ascend moderately through an open field to the main road into the campground. There will be campsites on the left. When you reach the road, walk into the small parking area on the right. It was closed off to vehicles with a barricade when we visited. There is a trail sign at the midpoint of the parking lot pointing to the trailhead. From this point it will be all downhill getting to the falls.

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A little friend we met on the trail – July 2017

From the edge of the lot it is about 0.7 of a mile to the falls. This upper section of the trail will lead to an intersection. This is the loop trail. Making a right is the shortest route to the falls. If you hike the loop you will come back to this point from the left branch of the trail. I didn’t hike the loop so I can’t tell you anything about the trail. On the descent to the falls there are three stone staircases, two right after each other and a third that is only a short distance away. The trail will reach the creek below the falls, where a bridge will get you across to a better photographic vantage. I saw a lot of people taking pictures from the bridge but if you do there is a tree in the middle of the shot. The base has some clutter but most of it was lying flat. If you want the field of rocks and boulders you’re going to have to include the clutter. I worked my way up the rocks on river left. There are several flat areas where you can take a great shot. I even did a few that included the tree on the far left edge of my pics. The only negative I have with this falls is the collection of logs and downfall at the base.

The hike is friendly enough but there are some rocky sections and in places you will be walking over exposed roots. The hike down isn’t bad but be prepared for the hike back up. You won’t realize how steep the descent is until you’re on the way back. While not my favorite, considering the proximity to the parkway, this one is definitely worth the stop. I didn’t have a chance to complete the loop hike so I don’t have any directions for you there. The trail I took down was well marked, so the rest might be as well but don’t take my word on it. It only takes one wrong turn!

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