Fall Foliage @CrabTree Falls, VA- Highest Falls on East Coast -Best Kept Secret

  • Oct 18, 2013 · 3:00 PM
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Foliage weekend @CrabTree Falls in Tyro, Virgina

Gorgeous leaves and Oh, the Colors are amazing!

A pullout bed is available in the main cabin that has everything we need (2.5 bathrooms, fully equipped kitchen with microwave coffee maker, etc. and boardwalk to river) located directly on the Tye river. Contact me if interested.

No smoking in or around the cabins/houses or during the hikes. No refunds, must sell spot to someone else.



















Some people are staying in the main cabin (address given for GPS) and others are in Annie's cabin about 2 miles down the road across the street from the camp grounds (which is full).

Only one campsite#27 is available for two nights at $53, includes tax. It is the best spot right on the river with amazing view. There may be one bed left in Annie's cabin, contact Jennifer. Note that there is no cell phone reception or WiFi for computers so let your friends and family know you cannot communicate most of the time you will be there.


Oct 18, Friday - drive to Crabtree Falls along Skyline drive (or route 81 if closed), stop for lunch 12-1 pm at Big Meadows and take in the marvelous views.

~3-4 pm - stop at local grocery store to pack up the food, beer and wine (ice and water too!)

Only need breakfast & lunch (coffee/tea/sugar/creamer & breakfast foods that don't need refrigeration like cereal/donuts/ oatmeal etc. and canned lunchmeat or peanut butter and jelly etc.) because we will go to have a marvelous gourmet dinner down the road or you can cookout at the campsite if you like (return to grocery store to get meat to cookout).

~4-5 pm (no rush, we're having FUN!) - check into our house, rooms, camping sites and settle in for gourmet dinner down the road about 10 miles.

Meet at 5-6 pm then proceed to dinner

~6-8 pm - gourmet dinner! @Osceola Mill

See their wonderful menu: http://www.osceolamill.com/dining.htm

Oct 19, Saturday - breakfast on your own, hike starts at 10 am bring picnic lunch and wine! hike ends around 2 or 3 pm.

~ 6 pm - Dinner! at the same gourmet place down the road.

~ 9 pm - meet at main cabin for partying (address given above0

Oct 20, Sunday - breakfast on your own, pack up and check out by 10 am

~11 am-2 pm - Hike Spy Rock and Picnic

~2-5 pm - drive home

Activities = eat, hike, walk, talk, campfire, haunted houses, mazes, hay rides, make s'mores, tell tall tales & jokes, laugh and be merry...& drink!

Available places to stay:

1) Annie's cabin -  Dorothy and Bill and man from Bob's Meetup group

Annie's cabin has a loft bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living room, but it is a rustic old log cabin from the 1800's with a woodstove. Has a porch with swing and pcinic table and fire ring outside facing the river.

Here is the web site showing the details of Annie's cabin:

2) Camping out - across street from Annie's cabin on the Tye river - must get spots now! I have one spot available for $53 for both nights, Fri& Sat, includes tax. Best spot in the campground on the river because I went there before.

Camping is $25/night (not including tax) and you need two nights, Oct 18 and 19. We leave Oct 20 in the afternoon, after our hike and picnic lunch. Check out is after breakfast at 10 am and then we go to the hike. Spy Rock

3) Montocello camp ground down the road

You are responsible for getting your own place or campsite to stay at for both nights. Do not RSVP 'YES' until you have secured your place to stay and mention where you are in the comments box.

Fun Facts-

The full moon, called the Hunter's Full Moon, will take place during both Friday and Saturday nights (specifically on Saturday at 1:37 AM).

The autumn foliage will be near it's multi-colored kaleidoscope peak!

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? Yep, that's right. Most leaf colors are already contained in the plant leaf.

o Chlorophyll gives leaves their familiar green color.
o Carotenoids produce yellow, orange, and brown colors.
o Anthocyanins add color to red apples, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, and plums.

These pigments are water soluble and are present in the liquid of leaf cells.

How does this happen? Both chlorophyll and carotenoids are present in the chloroplasts of leaf cells. Chlorophyll is produced and broken down and leaves appear green. As the days get shorter, chlorophyll production slows down until it finally stops. Then the green color is no longer visible and other pigments like the carotenoidsl can be seen. During autumn, bright light and excess plant sugars produce anthocyanins within leaf cells.

Why does this happen? The deciduous tree’s beautiful autumn colors are only a prelude to the loss of their leaves. Thin leaf tissue freezes easily, and trees constantly lose water through their leaves, so that a tree must seal them off and lose them in order to preserve thier health through the cold winter. White oaks may wear a “skirt” of brown leaves on their lower branches well into the winter. And beech trees may cling to their papery amber leaves until the new buds swell in spring.

All along the Crabtree park trail, there are waterfalls. Crabtree falls is the highest waterfall on the east coast.

Crabtree falls is Virginia's best kept secret and its most beautiful location. Amazingly, most people 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. We will stop to rest along the way so everyone makes it.

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 riveranother 1.2 miles to the Crabtree Meadows parking lot. I made this hike and I have COPD! You can do it too, just take your time. What else do we have to do? We will bring sandwiches and wine/beer to have a picnic on top.

We may have to traverse through the 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.

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.

Here are The Hunger Games waterfall safety tips I was asked to share:
o Know the potential hazards of a waterfall
o Stay back from the edge
o Avoid slippery rocks
o Wear stable shoes and watch your footing
o Don't jump off waterfalls
o Don't swim in waterfall pools
o Stay out of restricted areas
o 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 traveling 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.

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. some may turn back at any time they can no longer take it. Some willopt to walk arond the bottom odf the falls and arond the park area and over the bridge.

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.

This is a picture of 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 for overflow or when everything else is taken:

We are spread out over a few miles but will come together for the hikes, dinners, and at the campground after dinner at night ~8-9 pm to PARTY by the Tye river near our campfire.

Annie's Cabin is located at 11000 Crabtree Falls Highway (Route 56) in Tyro, Virginia.

Sunset occurs at ~6:30 PM.

Bring dry food and snacks for breakfast (coffee and tea and water too) and beverages like wine, 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.

Here is the closest grocery store to Tyro, the Food Lion, about 20 miles away, and it is open 7 AM to 11 PM (it takes over 30min to get there because of windy roads):
Food Lion of Lovingston
85 Calohill Drive
Lovingston, Virginia 22949
Phone: (434)[masked]

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 social gathering, 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:

Bring cash an dollars because parking is $3 per vehicle under an honor system at the falls.
Directions for fast driving: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.


The slow way is down Skyline drive to enjoy the day and park and all the colors.

Forest Service information on the area:

Just for sake of comparison, here is what last year's weather was like in Tyro, Virginia, on the same weekend:
Daytime high: 68 degrees
Night time low: 43 degrees
Precipitation: 0.01 inches
Wind speed 3 MPH

October events in the area:

Hiking information for Crabtree Falls:

Please get a place to stay on your own by working with others who are going. I am staying down the road in a house with other guests and members and everyone can come visit and party there as well.

All Aboard, Mates!


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  • Dianne G.

    Skyline drive was breathtaking and Crabtree falls and Spy Rock challenging hikes. Great company and food and conversations made it a wonderful weekend and the fall foliage as good too. LOL

    October 20, 2013

  • Dianne G.

    Bring cash dollar bills for $3 parking charge each day.

    October 17, 2013

  • Dianne G.

    One roll out bed for sunroom available in main house on river for $105 for two nights. Contact me if interested.

    October 10, 2013

  • Christina C.

    Hi all. This is my neck of the woods and have relatives at the foot of crabtree. Would like to join you all for the hike but will not be camping out.

    August 30, 2013

    • Dianne G.

      No cell service is available, so please meet us at the house around 10 am (address is given as the location above). We are going to hike there from the house if GOV shutdown continues or we may meet there if it is open.

      October 10, 2013

  • Dianne G.

    11039 Crabtree Falls Hwy
    Tyro, VA 22976

    September 20, 2013

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  • Dianne G. +2
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