A very picturesque waterfall in a wonderful recreation area just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near the scenic town of Little Switzerland, is the beautiful and picturesque Crabtree Falls. Crabtree Falls is part of the Crabtree Meadows Recreation area where in addition to the falls, you’ll find a campground, along with picnic areas, and various park facilities.
The trailhead for Crabtree Falls is located at milepost 339.5 of the Blue Ridge Parkway and is easily identified via parkway signage. The parking area is quite large and is sufficient for most days although this is a popular spot and can, at times, fill up. Just make sure you park in the correct area as some of the parking is reserved for campers. The trailhead is about 1 hour 15 minutes from Asheville North Carolina or about 2 hours 15 minutes from Charlotte North Carolina or Greenville South Carolina.
There are two options for hiking to Crabtree Falls. The first is an easy 3 mile round-trip out and back hike with a steady but easy decent down to the falls which means you will be hiking back uphill on the return. The second options is a little more strenuous 3.5 mile loop trail that continues up the ridge past the falls returning to the parking area near the campground. Both are beautiful hikes but we recommend the loop if you have the time.
The hike starts on a paved walkway near the center of the parking lot and is easily identified due to excellent signage. As the trail turns to dirt you will pass a small amphitheater as you head towards the campground. Continue to follow the well placed signs until you reach the sign with a nice map of the area. This is where you will separate from the recreation area and head into the woods toward the falls. The trail is nicely maintained and is very easy to follow. There are stairs with hand rails in place where necessary and even wooden walkways over small creeks that you cross. The trail is a little rocky so we do recommend wearing something with medium to heavy soles for stability if possible. Other than a few rocky areas, the hike is through a beautiful forest and before you know it, you will be at the 70ft Crabtree Falls.
Crabtree Falls is very picturesque so be sure to bring your camera to capture the natural beauty of the waterfall. There is a sturdy wood bridge with a bench crossing the creek that provides a great spot to relax and view the falls. There are also a number of large boulders along the creek that you can sit on and listen to the waterfall as it pours over the cliff. Crabtree Falls also has a number of beautiful wildflowers growing along its banks and surrounding creek.
When you are ready to leave Crabtree Falls, you can take the easy way and hike the 1.5 miles back up the trail, returning the same way you entered; or you can take the more scenic and strenuous 2 mile loop trail up the ridge on the far side of the bridge. After the initial hike up the ridge, the loop trail becomes easier and does provide some great scenery of the forest that is well worth the extra 1/2 mile walk. If you get tired heading up the ridge, there is a bench at the top where you can stop to catch your breath and just relax until you are ready to continue.
Whatever trail you decided to take for your trek back, look for the signs directing you to the parking lot or the amphitheater and you will easily find your way back to the parking lot.