We will socialize (and eat) nightly by the bonfire.
To reserve a cabin at Crabtree Falls, please contact Vickie Norman at:
Once the cabins are all rented, then that is it. I suggest that someone first rent a cabin, and then get members who are going to chip in and share the cost. Here is the web site showing the details and rates:
Remember that the welcome bonfires (Friday and Saturday nights) are at Richard's Retreat before sunset, which occurs at around 6:35 PM. Come on over at 6:00 PM.
The full moon, called the Hunter's Full Moon, will take place during our bonfires, both on Friday and on Saturday nights (specifically on Saturday at 1:37 AM).
A large contingent of our group went to Crabtree Falls last October, exactly one year ago, and we had an absolutely fabulous time. So, we are doing it again, when the autumn foliage will be turning into its annual multi-colored kaleidoscope.
Here we are on one of our hikes last October
According to the Virginia Department of Forestry, the colors in the Blue Ridge area peak in October. Here are the fall colors that the trees will have in this forest:
Virginia Trees and Colors
Ash - Yellow and maroon
Beech - Yellow to orange
Dogwood - Scarlet to purple
Hickory - Golden bronze
Oak - Red, brown, or russet
Poplar - Golden yellow
Red Maple - Brilliant scarlet
Did you know that all these amazing colors are already in the plant leaf? Yup, that's right. Most leaf colors are already contained in the plant leaf. And it happens like this:
- Chlorophyll gives leaves their familiar green color.
- Carotenoids produce yellow, orange, and brown colors.
- Anthocyanins add color to red apples, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, and plums. They are water soluble and appear in the watery liquid of leaf cells.
But how does this happen? Well, both chlorophyll and carotenoids are present in the chloroplasts of leaf cells throughout the growing season. During this time, chlorophyll is produced and broken down and leaves appear green. As days get shorter, chlorophyll production slows down until it stops. The green color is no longer visible, and other pigments present (carotenoids) with the chlorophyll are then revealed. During autumn, bright light and excess plant sugars produce anthocyanins within leaf cells.
But why does this happen? A deciduous tree’s beautiful autumn colors are a prelude to the loss of its leaves. Thin leaf tissue freezes easily, and trees constantly lose water through the leaves, so a tree must seal them off and drop its leaves to preserve its own health through the winter cold. Some trees tend to cling to their dead leaves for a while, but the water vessels are sealed off, so the trees are not harmed. For example, white oaks may wear a “skirt” of brown leaves on their lower branches well into winter. And beech trees may cling to their papery amber leaves until the new buds swell in spring.
However, all we need to know is that it will look stupendous.
All along the trail, there are waterfalls
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE TO OBTAIN YOUR OWN LODGING. DO NOT RSVP AND SIMPLY STATE THAT YOU NEED A PLACE TO STAY AND DO NOTHING MORE; YOU HAVE TO OBTAIN YOUR OWN ACCOMMODATIONS. RESERVE AND THEN SHARE THE CABINS.
On our last voyage to Crabtree Falls, everyone chipped in, helped out, and worked as a team. When one needed help, all were there to assist. That made the event pleasant, and it is what this outdoor group is all about. So, we need positive people who take JFK's saying to heart.
And we need firewood, so bring it if if you have it!
We will socialize, eat, and engage in at least two hikes, one at Crabtree Falls and another at Spy Rock. On Friday and Saturday nights, we will have bonfires at one of the cabins as well.
Strange events occur in these hot tubs
Whether telling tall tales or making s'mores, sitting around a bonfire is a great time to be had by all
Now, regarding pets, I love all animals, but, please, no pets on this activity. No dogs, cats, parakeets, pythons, iguanas, mice, ferrets, ladybugs, tarantulas, or chimps. Even if you clothe them and you believe them to be your offspring. The steep and slippery inclination beside the falls go up and down for 5 miles, and the mountain hike requires scrambling on rocks, so, if your excited pet sees a wild animal and yanks on you, then you fall on top of everyone below you. Keep your pet at home during this event, especially for the safety and well-being of the pet.
Right now all the cabins are open on this weekend, but they will not be available for long. As of now we have begun to book cabins in the area, so it is smartest to team up with others who are definitely going and to stay at the cabins at Crabtree Falls, or, if they fill up, in the vicinity of Tyro or Montebello.
THIS IS THE TIME OF YEAR WHEN EVERY CABIN AND SITE WILL BE BOOKED AS IT IS THE MOST SCENIC PERIOD. GET YOUR ACCOMMODATIONS NOW BECAUSE THERE WILL NOT BE ANY LEFT AS TIME PASSES.
Note that it gets cold at night in these mountains, so think about that factor if you are thinking of staying in a camping area. The campgrounds have cabins, so it is suggested that those be used rather than tent camping.
At the welcome bonfires, you hear about things that you do not read about in books
It is at least a 3-hour drive for most of us each way, plus it is in the middle of the mountains in a very remote location. But, like many such places, it is the very secluded aspect of the place that make it so special.
Please exercise extreme caution on the windy road towards the final destination.
It is Virginia's best kept secret and its most beautiful location. Amazingly, so many do not know about it.
Crabtree Falls is the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River, in Nelson County, Virginia, just six miles off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway near milepost 27.
Crabtree Falls features a series of several major cascades 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.
However, the entire hike is more demanding. There are several challenging switchbacks along the way and it is like climbing a very long set of stairs. But the effort is worth it. Be aware that many have died here because they left the trail and stepped on the rocks, and the US Forest Service has placed a a sign there with the latest body count.
I mention the above caveat not to scare folks away, but all must be aware that if you leave the trail you could slip on a rock and find out out if God exists. The hike is safe if one stays on the trail and follows directions.
The more adventuresome hiker may continue along the 2.5 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.
Yes, we may have to traverse through this opening in the mountain. We will have to look for the cave in the rock formation on the way up.
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. LA Snead, former US Assistant Fuel Administrator (WWI), environmentalist and notable Nelsontonian, blocked development efforts and spearheaded negotiations to secure the land surrounding the falls. Using personal and Congressional funds, the land deals were completed and the deeds transferred by LA Snead on June 3, 1968 to the National Forest System. This assured benefit for future generations of this magnificent Nelson County treasure. 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. Under National Forest domain, the safety, accessibility and continued improvements have made Crabtree Falls a major tourist destination within Nelson County.
The prime hike at Crabtree Falls will be on Saturday. There will be options as well, to include a walk to Spy Rock.
Hiking information for Spy Rock:
Where the Spy part came from
View from Spy Rock
The panoramic views from Spy Rock are breath-taking
"Here's some advice: Stay alive." - Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games
We will go in an area that may look like we are in The Hunger Games. Believe it or not, the U.S. Forest Service actually has a "Hunger Games Warning" to those venturing by the waterfalls in the mountains.
Park rangers warn people to practice waterfall safety. Rangers stress that no one should be directly above a waterfall, no matter what they've seen acted out on the big screen.
Moreover, the U.S. Forest Service says waterfalls are popular places for viewing, picnicking, and wading, but, while beautiful to see, they often pose risks to unprepared visitors. Slippery rocks, steep slopes, and undercurrents can catch you by surprise when walking through or in the area of a waterfall. So be careful.
We had no incidents on our last hike here, so let's keep that track record going. Here are The Hunger Games waterfall safety tips I was asked to share with you:
- Know the potential hazards of a waterfall
- Stay back from the edge
- Avoid slippery rocks
- Wear stable shoes and watch your footing
- Don't jump off waterfalls
- Don't swim in waterfall pools
- Stay out of restricted areas
- Always carry a map of the area
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.
The beginning is on a paved trail.
For GPS purposes, use 10438 Crabtree Falls Highway, Tyro, Virginia.
And then we turn up, off of the trail, and up the mountain.
The hike should take 4 hours plus a lunch break at the top.
Crabtree Falls is arguably the most beautiful set of waterfalls in Virginia. Billed as the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, Crabtree Falls is a must see for anyone who lives in the mid-Atlantic region.
Here is the famous footbridge that we would cross over the Tye River, a laminated arch that was shipped from New York state in one piece and installed in 1978. Until the mid 1980's the footbridge was the starting point for the hike up Crabtree Falls. Today the parking area is on the other side of the river, and the bridge now serves primarily as a decorative addition to the hike.
From the end of the parking area, we would follow the paved trail to the bottom of the lower most falls. At this point the trail becomes a dirt path, and does the first of nine switchbacks on its way to the top of the highest set of falls. The trial is well maintained, and has wooden guardrails along its steeper portions, as well as railed overlooks at the most scenic points.
Here is the Crabtree Falls topographic map (it has an elevation gain of 1,380 feet):
Crabtree Falls Topo Map
Here is the Spy Rock topographic map (it has an elevation gain of 1,260 feet):
Spy Rock Topo Map
There are cabins and camp sites close to the falls. The first one is where we are staying, and the other is listed as a backup:
We are staying at the five cabins (Richard's Retreat, Annie's Cabin, Jack's Place, Barb's House, and Tony's Place) at the Cabins at Crabtree Falls that are located at 11000 Crabtree Falls Highway (Route 56) in Tyro, Virginia.
Again, on Friday and on Saturday, the nightly bonfires will be behind Richard's Retreat a little after 6:00 PM (the sunset occurs at around 6:30 PM). Bring food and beverages to share, and don't forget your s'mores! If you don't bring it, you don't have it, and this applies to all your meals as well as to the bonfire socials. The other meals are on your own.
Here is the closest grocery store to Tyro, the Food Lion, about 20 miles away, and it is open 7 AM to 11 PM:
Food Lion of Lovingston
85 Callohill Drive
Lovingston, Virginia 22949
Here is the map from the cabins where Richard's Retreat is to the Food Lion. Print it and bring it with you:
There are some small convenience stores in the area, the closest being about 4 miles away at Montebello, Virginia.
On Saturday night, for our second bonfire, we will be greeted by a full moon. This is the Hunter’s Moon or Full Harvest Moon, and this full moon is often referred to as the Full Hunter’s Moon, Blood Moon, or Sanguine Moon. Many moons ago, Native Americans named this bright moon for obvious reasons. The leaves are falling from trees, the deer are fattened, and it’s time to begin storing up meat for the long winter ahead. Because the fields were traditionally reaped in late September or early October, hunters could easily see fox and other animals that come out to glean from the fallen grains. Probably because of the threat of winter looming close, the Hunter’s Moon is generally accorded with a special honor, historically serving as an important feast day in both Western Europe and among many Native American tribes.
This is a very remote area, and wireless service does not work well here. Below is an aerial photo of the falls:
Parking: $3 per vehicle under an honor system at the falls, but we can walk there, so that is what we will do.
Directions: From I-81: Take exit 205 for Raphine/Steeles Tavern and continue east on State Route (SR) 606 to US 11. Turn left onto US 11 and continue north for a very short distance, then take a right onto SR 56. Follow SR 56 for 2 miles into the community of Vesuvius. As you enter Vesuvius, continue on the road as it bears to the left for another 6 miles. At the top of the mountain, continue under the Blue Ridge Parkway on SR 56 for 6 to 8 miles. The entrance to Crabtree Falls Day Use Area is on the right.
Forest Service information on the area:
Just for sake of comparison, here is what last year's weather was like in Tyro, Virginia, on this same weekend:
Daytime high: 68 degrees
Night time low: 43 degrees
Precipitation: 0.01 inches
Wind speed 3 MPH
October events in the area (there is a chance that the web sites may change, so I will put both of them up, the old and the new):
Hiking information for Crabtree Falls:
Please get a place to stay on your own by working with others who are going. I am staying at Barb's Place. Godspeed to all.
And make sure that you don't stay at the cabin on the wrong side of the tracks:
The cabin on the wrong side of the tracks
Just kidding! I could not resist this one......