You might know the Blue Ridge Parkway as a National Parkway and an “All-American Road”, noted for its scenic beauty and stunning vistas behind every turn. Did you know however that there are more than twenty waterfalls that you can hike to while on the Parkway? And these are just the ones that are highly popularized and heavily visited.
From all this amazing waterfalls one stands out not only for it’s unforgettable beauty but also for the easiness of the trail that leads to it and the wide variety of wild flowers, trees, bushes and other foliage that you can see as you make your way through the windy path to the “Cascades Falls”.
Chances are at this elevation if you head down the Parkway to mile marker 271 of the Blue Ridge Parkway where the trail head to the “Cascades Falls” is located, you’ll find yourself doused in dense fog. If you are lucky enough to pass through on a clear day, the views are breathtaking.
We assume it would take you awhile to take your eyes off these expansive views, but when you do, make your way towards the sign for the Falls where the trail to the Cascades begins. The very well maintained loop weaves between magical scenery, streams, rhododendron and mountain laurel before reaching the waterfall.
This sign you’ll reach after a short while is where the loop splits and you can go in either direction from here, but ultimately reach the falls from either way. Down by the bridge near the falls is where the Mountain to Sea trail continues if you are looking to continue on and extend your hike.
There are multiple signs that identify wild flowers, trees, bushes and other foliage as you travel the trail all describing what you are looking at in great detail and all of them extremely well marked.
Continue down the pine needles covered path hugged between the rhododendron until you reach the wooden bench and wooden bridge that hovers over a small stream which is the predecessor to the Cascade Falls. From here you’ll be walking down some stone stairs and following the path that goes along the stream which would lead you to the viewing area right next to the falls where you’ll have a front row view of a small free-fall as it cascades and slides down the rock face.
From here the falls go steeply downhill pass more flights of stone steps. Make sure you are wearing appropriate shoes especially if you are taking this trail after rainfall.
After marveling at the views of this stunning waterfall and hopefully getting some good pictures, make your way up to where the path splits and continue on the loop following the stream where you’ll be able to enjoy few other small cascades along the way.
Make sure to pack a picnic and take a seat on one of the picnic benches by the parking lot and enjoy the marvelous views surrounding you. Clean bathrooms are located nearby for easy access.
If you still have energy and want to do some more exploring head over to the Cool Spring Baptist Church building that is a short walk from the Cascade Falls waterfall. The little building that has withstood the test of time used to be a gathering place mostly used as a weathering shelter as most affairs were held outside. It’s an interesting place to wander around and read the signs that tell you all about it.
You can enjoy this easy hike and marvelous scenery daily while the Parkway is open. The trail is perfect for small children because of the short length. Dogs are allowed on the trail if kept on a leash but do make sure that you’ll be able to manage them on the narrow and steep stairs especially if you choose to hike on a gorgeous weekend day or during the busy months when there might be more people on the trail. You can find the trail head for the Cascade Falls here: