Crabtree Falls, the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River, is a popular attraction located in Nelson County, Virginia, just six miles off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway near milepost 27. Physical address is 11581 Crabtree Falls Highway Montebello). N 37° 51.112" W 79° 04.663"
Crabtree Falls features a series of five major cascades and a number of smaller ones that fall a total distance of 1,200 feet. The first overlook is just a few hundred feet from the upper parking lot along a gentle, paved trail making it an excellent stopover for travelers of all ages and abilities.
The more adventuresome hiker may continue along the 2 and 1/2 mile Crabtree Falls Trail to four other overlooks offering spectacular views of the Crabtree Creek Falls and lovely vistas of the Tye River Valley. From the upper falls, the trail follows the creek another 1.2 miles to the Crabtree Meadows parking lot.
The name “Crabtree” is thought to have come from William Crabtree, who settled in the area in 1777. Another noted pioneer, Allen Tye, who did extensive exploration in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is identified as having discovered the Tye River.
The land at the base of the falls was almost developed as a resort area in the late 1960s, but the residents of Nelson County encouraged the Forest Service to acquire the falls so it could be enjoyed freely by future generations. Money was secured from Congress to purchase the land and improve the safety and accessibility of the area around the falls. There are wooden stairs, gravel paths, railed overlooks, and a spectacular 100-foot bridge over the Tye River. This beautiful bridge, a laminated arch, was shipped from New York in one piece. Cranes lifted and placed it over the Tye River in 1978.
Crabtree Falls is also famous for its connection to the well-known television show The Waltons. The falls were not shown on television, but the name was referred to several times during the life of the program, usually in reference to a Sunday outing.
Crabtree Falls can be reached from the Blue Ridge Parkway by travelling to milepost 27. Exit onto VA 56 going east and follow the signs to Crabtree Falls (about 6.3 miles). It is open from dawn to dusk daily.
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Work copyright Keith Skinner 2009 – All rights reserved – No useage without prior written consent.