A few weekends ago, Shai and I headed over to the Blue Ridge Mountains. From Charlottesville, I-64 zips you right to the point where Skyline Drive transforms to Blue Ridge Parkway. Head north, and you pay. (Literally. I think it's $10 or so a car.) Head south, and you are home free!
Naturally, we analyzed our expected ROI of each and headed ... south.
Our destination: Crabtree Falls, the tallest falls east of the Mississippi. We had tried once before to locate it, but gave up just a few miles too soon.
- Head west on I-64 all the way to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Be careful — I got so engrossed in conversation with Shai that I totally blew by the exit. If you reach 81, you've made the same mistake!
- Go south on the Blue Ridge Parkway till around milepost 27. Look for the tiny white signs on the side of the road, just a foot or so off the ground.
- Take Route 56 east about 6 miles or so.
- Before you get to Crabtree Falls, you'll come across the Montebello Country Store — across from a pleasant pond for fishing. If you need to gas up and use the restrooms, this is the spot.
- Not long after, you'll reach a sign to turn right into Crabtree Falls. Parking can be a bit creative. Bring $3 in cash for the honor-code envelope and hang tag, available by the start of the trail.
Here's the start of the trail. Easy, eh? A mere 500 feet to the first view of the falls!
The trail switchbacks up the hill (er, mountain?) nine times. Stairs have been set up for particularly steep parts. The path varies from rocks and roots to smooth and steady. It gets more interesting the farther up you go.
You can't really gaze at the entire fall at once. Instead, you'll see a gurgling stream here, gushing water there, all connecting to make a vast funnel of falls.
The trees were in the middle of the fall transformation, one of the prettiest weekends of the year.