The 15 Best Virginia Waterfalls for Hiking

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. All hosted affiliate links follow our editorial & privacy policies.

Once you start digging into all the different Virginia waterfalls, you’ll quickly realize that there are far too many Virginia hikes with waterfalls to possibly see them all in one trip.

It would be difficult just to see all the best waterfalls in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park during a single getaway, or to visit the awesome collection of waterfall hikes in Virginia’s George Washington & Jefferson National Forest.

This is partly due to the fact that the most amazing waterfalls of Virginia are scattered throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains region. 

In our experience, it almost feels like the best waterfall hikes in VA are whichever ones are closest to you at that given moment.

I personally love this feeling, because there’s always another beautiful waterfall in VA drawing us back to the fantastic state parks, national forests, and national parks for new adventures.

If you’re interested in exploring the mountains of Virginia, read on for our in-depth guide to the 15 best Virginia waterfalls for hiking, including descriptions of each trail and a handy Virginia waterfalls map! 

READ MORE: 20 Things to Do in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

Best Virginia Waterfall Hikes Guide

  1. Apple Orchard Falls
  2. Blue Suck Falls
  3. Cascade Falls
  4. Crabtree Falls
  5. Dark Hollow Falls
  6. The Devil’s Bathtub
  7. Doyles River Falls
  8. Falling Spring Falls
  9. Great Falls
  10. Hazel River Falls
  11. Rose River Falls
  12. Saint Mary’s Waterfall
  13. South River Falls
  14. Whiteoak Falls
  15. White Rock Falls

READ MORE: Where are the Blue Ridge Mountains? A State-by-State Guide

Waterfall hikes in Virginia - Apple Orchard Falls
Apple Orchard Falls

1. Apple Orchard Falls

George Washington & Jefferson National Forests

Official Website

One of our favorite waterfall hikes in VA, the Apple Orchard Falls trail is located at Milepost 78 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, at the Sunset Field Overlook.

From the BRP, the moderately difficult hiking trail enters George Washington & Jefferson National Forests and crosses the Appalachian Trail in VA.

This 2.9-mile, out-and-back trail climbs just over 1000 feet and has some steps along the way. 

But the toll it takes on your legs is worth it once you reach Apple Orchard Falls , which is over 200 feet tall.

A small wooden bridge provides a front and center view of the falls, and there’s also a bench and some good sitting rocks for having a picnic.

READ MORE: Apple Picking in Virginia: The 15 Best VA Apple Orchards to Visit

Blue Suck Falls in Douthat State Park, VA
Blue Suck Falls in Douthat State Park VA, photo courtesy Virginia State Parks 

2. Blue Suck Falls

Douthat State Park

Official Website

Located near Virginia’s border with West Virginia, Douthat State Park has been operating as a family park since the mid-1930s.

Its offerings include amazing Blue Ridge Mountains scenery, a 50-acre lake, and a beach for swimming.

This state park is also home to Blue Suck Falls. A “suck” is an Appalachian term for whirlpool, and the Blue Suck waterfall has one right at its base.

The moderately easy hike to Blue Suck Falls is about 3 miles on a well-maintained dirt walking path.

There are plenty of signs along the way and the scenic views are first-rate, looking out east to the Alleghenies.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Virginia State Parks in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Virginia Waterfalls - Cascade Falls
Cascade Falls, photo via US Forest Service

3. Cascade Falls

George Washington and Jefferson National Forest

Official Website

The Cascades is a special conservation area in the GW&J National Forest of western Virginia, near the town of Pembroke.

It’s part of a group of wilderness areas collectively known as the Mountain Lake Wilderness Cluster.

The area was named after the stunning 69-foot waterfall, Cascade Falls, which is formed by Little Stoney Creek before it flows into the New River.

Water rolls over a cliff and smashes into a series of rock ledges before splashing into an inviting pool.

Hiking to this waterfall is best done via a 4-mile loop trail from Pembroke. The Upper Trail provides spectacular aerial views, while the Lower Trail plays with cataracts and backwaters of Little Stony Creek.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Lakes in the Virginia Mountains to Visit

Crabtree Falls VA, George Washington National Forest
Crabtree Falls in Virginia, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

4. Crabtree Falls

George Washington and Jefferson National Forest

Official Website

Both North Carolina and Virginia have a Crabtree Falls, and both are beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway waterfalls.

Crabtree Falls NC is located right off the Parkway at Milepost 339.5, while Crabtree Falls VA is a 6-mile detour from BRP Milepost 27.

The Crabtree Falls in Virginia is one of the highest sets of waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. It has a total vertical drop of over 1000 feet, with 5 major cascades and several smaller ones. The tallest one drops some 400 feet!

For an easy waterfall hike, there’s a 700-foot hike on a paved, wheelchair-accessible trail to the bottom of Crabtree Falls. But, to see several more stunning vistas, you’ll want to continue to the other four overlooks.

Climbing 1.7 miles to the uppermost cascade, this hike is breathtaking in more ways than one!

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Lexington VA & Natural Bridge VA

Virginia hikes with waterfalls - Dark Hollow Falls
Dark Hollow Falls

5. Dark Hollow Falls

Shenandoah National Park

Official Website

Located in the Central District of Shenandoah National Park near the Big Meadows Campground and Visitor Center, Dark Hollow Falls is a popular destination for visitors.

This waterfall is 70 feet tall, meandering down a moss-strewn rock face with overhanging trees before splashing into a shallow pool at the bottom.

The hiking trail to Dark Hollow Falls is a 1.4-mile loop, with an elevation gain of 440 feet. It’s one of the more well-traveled routes in Shenandoah National Park.

That being said, the trail goes downhill to start, and park rangers often caution visitors that the return climb out can be a bit challenging, with steep and rocky sections.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Campgrounds in Virginia

Waterfalls in VA- The Devils Bathtub & Waterfall
The Devil’s Bathtub, photo by Brad Deel courtesy

6. The Devil’s Bathtub

George Washington and Jefferson National Forest

Official Website

Located in Southwest Virginia, the Devil’s Bathtub has received its fair share of press of late.

Despite being a challenging route, the waterfall a hugely popular destination for hikers. So popular, in fact, that overtourism has become an issue here.

Devil’s Bathtub gets so much attention because it’s a super cool swimming hole formed by incredible rock formations. Its water is crystal clear, and also crisply cold!

The loop of Devils Fork and Devil’s Bathtub is 6.9 miles, with over 1600 feet of elevation gain. A 3.9-mile out-and-back trail to the Devil’s Bathtub is less intense, but it’s still challenging in our experience.

Note that this area of the National Forest is prone to flash flooding. Hikers are warned not to proceed if the trail’s water levels are above the knee. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in SWVA (Southwest Virginia)

Shenandoah waterfalls - Doyles River Falls
Doyles River Falls 

7. Doyles River Falls

Shenandoah National Park

Official Website

The Doyles River Falls trail is considered one of the great hiking routes in Shenandoah National Park because it leads to two fine waterfalls, the 28-foot Upper Doyles River Falls and the 63-foot Lower Doyles River Falls.

This out-and-back trek to the two Doyles River Waterfalls is about 3.3 miles round-trip, and features a swimming hole at the bottom of Lower Doyles Falls.

For those who are seeking a more substantial hike (and an extra waterfall), the Doyles River Trail can be linked with the Jones Run Trail to make a 7.7-mile loop.

At 42 feet tall, Jones Run Falls is another fantastic Virginia waterfall. 

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Waynesboro VA (Augusta County)

Falling Spring Falls VA
Falling Spring Falls

8. Falling Spring Falls

Allegheny Highlands

Official Website

Falling Spring Falls VA is an impressive waterfall that takes a long plunge down to a mossy rock-scape, which breaks it up into a pretty collection of cascades.

This amazing waterfall was has some cool pre-Civil War history behind it. It was included in an 82-acre parcel of land that Governor Thomas Jefferson granted to Major Thomas Massie in 1780 for his role in the Revolutionary War.

Unfortunately, hikes down to the base of Falling Spring Falls are off-limits now. There’s a great picnic area along Route 220, but leaving the designated area to get closer to the falls is illegal.

So go see this waterfall for a picnic, and cruise four miles off Route 220 to hike the Jackson River Scenic Trail via the Intervale Trailhead. It’s one of my favorite rail-to-trail tracks in the state of Virginia.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Civil War Battlefields in Virginia to Visit

Virginia Waterfall Hikes - Great Falls
Great Falls, photo via Great Falls Park 

9. Great Falls

Great Falls Park

Official Website

Formed when the Potomac River squeezes through Mather Gorge, Great Falls are so grand that they have an entire national park named in their honor.

The park encompasses 800 acres and is located about 15 miles from Washington D.C. in northern Virginia, near Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Park in Maryland.

Great Falls National Park has three overlooks for the falls, all of which can be accessed by a short walk from the Visitors Center. Overlooks 2 and 3 are located on the same accessible trail.

Otherwise, the park has several miles of hiking trails to enjoy.

The River Trail is one of the more challenging routes. It skirts the cliffs above the Potomac River for about 1.5 miles, with some rock scrambling necessary along the way.

READ MORE: 10 Great Romantic Getaways in Virginia for Couples

10. Hazel River Falls

Shenandoah National Park

Official Website

Part of what makes the 5.2-mile hike to Hazel River Falls so attractive is the fact that it’s got plenty of length without being especially challenging.

Of course, there’s an amazing VA waterfall and beautiful scenery along the way, too.

Hazel River Falls is hidden a couple of miles deep in the forest, were it’s nestled between serious rock walls. There are also two Virginia caves to explore while at the falls.

The Hazel River Falls Trail is well-marked and easy to follow. It has an 800-foot change in elevation, with the only challenging part being the short section nearest the falls.

Personally, I always find a bit of extra energy whenever there’s a waterfall within earshot.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Luray VA (Gateway to Shenandoah)

Hiking Shenandoah waterfalls - Rose River Falls
Rose River Falls 

11. Rose River Falls

Shenandoah National Park

Official Website

Another awesome attraction on the long list of remarkable Shenandoah waterfalls, the 67-foot-tall Rose River Falls has the bonus of boasting a really nice swimming hole.

Note that Rose River Falls does require some effort to reach.

This loop trail is 3.9 miles and climbs about 866 feet, but you can also see Dark Hollow Falls on this hike.

The trailhead is off Skyline Drive a mile or more north of Big Meadows Wayside, which is a great place to grab a snack and/or use the bathroom.

There’s also a camp store there for camping and hiking gear.

READ MORE: 20 Beautiful Birds of Virginia

12. Saint Mary’s Waterfall

George Washington and Jefferson National Forests

Official Website

Saint Mary’s Wilderness is the largest designated wilderness area in George Washington & Jefferson National Forests.

Encompassing 10,000 acres, it’s located near Waynesboro VA  and the northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

This wilderness area offers 14 miles of hiking trails and includes several waterways, including the Saint Mary’s River.

The hike to the waterfall is 4.4 miles round-trip, and only has an elevation gain of 300 feet.

Saint Mary’s Falls is also very close to Baring Falls, Virginia Falls, and Saint Mary Lake.

READ MORE: The Best Restaurants in Lexington VA & Natural Bridge VA for Foodies

Skyline Drive waterfalls -South River Falls
South River Falls 

13. South River Falls

Shenandoah National Park

Official Website

Another great hike in the Skyline Drive waterfalls collection, South River Falls is accessed via the South River Picnic Grounds at Milepost 62.7.

From the picnic grounds, the moderately difficult round-trip hike to the observation point is 2.6 miles.

With an additional 1.5 miles of hiking on steep, rocky terrain, adventurous hikers can get to the base of the falls.

This route crosses the Appalachian Trail, which makes it popular among people who enjoy doing section hikes and longer, overnight backpacking trips.

READ MORE:The 10 Best Things to Do in Staunton VA

Waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park - Upper Whiteoak Falls
Upper Whiteoak Falls 

14. Whiteoak Falls

Shenandoah National Park

Official Website

There are so many waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park, we found it difficult to settle on just one during our visit. Luckily, Whiteoak Canyon offers half a dozen, as well as lots of photo-worthy cascades in between.

Hiking the Shenandoah waterfalls in Virginia doesn’t get any better than this. From Milepost 42.6 on Skyline Drive, the hiking trail down to the lower falls is 3.5 miles, providing a serious (and seriously beautiful) in-and-out hike.

Note that the trail gets very steep beyond Upper Whiteoak Falls. For those seeking for a less intense hike, Upper Falls is 4.6 miles round-trip.

This is a can’t-miss place for able-bodied waterfall lovers to put on their itinerary for chasing waterfalls in VA!

READ MORE: The 20 Most Beautiful Wildflowers in Virginia (& Where to See Them)

White Rock Falls Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
White Rock Falls, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

15. White Rock Falls

Blue Ridge Parkway

Official Website

White Rock Falls works great when paired with the other quasi-Blue Ridge Parkway waterfall, Crabtree Falls in VA.

Access to both waterfalls starts near the Slacks Overlook at BRP Milepost 20. It’s always great to find two top falls so close together on the Virginia waterfalls map.

The best hike to White Rock Falls is a moderate, 4.7-mile loop that showcases an amazing rocky gorge, with the waterfall and wading pool as the kicker.

This waterfall is close to one of the largest Virginia mountain towns, Charlottesville VA, and it’s considered among the best waterfalls near Roanoke VA and Lexington VA. –by Jonathon Engels; featured photo of Upper Crabtree Falls VA by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett


Leave No Trace logo

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

After visiting North Carolina for the first time, Senior Writer Jonathon Engels and wife Emma spent 2 years exploring Western NC in search of a homestead property. They first lived in Brevard, where Jonathon taught writing at Blue Ridge Community College and extensively explored the Blue Ridge Parkway and Pisgah National Forest. For the last several years they have lived just off the BRP near Elkin, Southwest Virginia, and the NC High Country. The couple also volunteers with the Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention, the Elkin Valley Trail Association, and Reeves Downtown School of Music.