On our second weekend here, Jeff’s dad, who lives in Northern Virginia, came down to visit and welcome us to the state. Since we’re so far away from our family on the west coast, it’s so wonderful to know that we have at least 1 family member who lives somewhat close by! When brainstorming what to do that weekend, I immediately went back and referenced my original things I’d like to do, if for some reason, I really do end up on the other side of the country blog post, and rediscovered one of the hikes I’d seen while researching: the Cascades Waterfall Hike.
West coast readers, I know what you’re thinking–a waterfall hike in August? But they’ll won’t be any water, dummy. Or at least that’s the conversation I had in my mind until I realized the east coast is just a tad bit different. It’s so strange changing my mindset about the seasons. Summer is the rainy season? It’s going to be a hard thing to wrap my mind around, especially with all of the wildfires raging in Northern California at the moment!
The trailhead is located in Pembroke, in Giles County, about 30 minutes west of Blacksburg. There’s a huge parking lot at the trailhead and when we got there on a Saturday afternoon, almost every single parking space was full. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a full trailhead parking lot, except maybe on the valley floor in Yosemite. Because it’s a national forest, there is a $3 entry fee, but with how well the trail was maintained, I’d say that it’s money well spent.
After briefly checking out the trailhead sign, we hit the trail (with about a billion little kids–if you want a peaceful, adult hike, this is not the one for you!) until we came to a fork in the road: should we continue straight on the Cascades 1 trail or turn right and go across the bridge to the Cascades 2 trail? I was in the front and my logic was simple: bridges are awesome, so we should take the trail that goes across the bridge. Right?
So we crossed the bridge and winded along the river along this gorgeous, wet trail covered with man-made stone steps and built-in benches. It was a pretty cool day, but by the end of the hike–about 2 miles–I was definitely soaked all the way through.
Which, I guess turned out to be fine since this was waiting for us at the end of the trail:
Yep, a beautiful, fully operational 69 foot waterfall! We hiked in our suits, so we immediately jumped in the huge pool at the bottom to cool off, as our 50 closest friends who were also at the falls looked on.
Jeff, of course, had to swim all the way over to the bottom of the falls…
On the way back down, we accidentally took a fork in the trail and descended down a moderately steep, packed dirt trail that looked down upon the river, and the other trail that we had hiked on the way up. I guess we should have paid more attention to that map at the beginning of the trail, but apparently, that’s the why you’re supposed to do it, so my logic worked out in the end.
The Giles County website has a thorough, detailed description of the waterfall and the hike, as well as a video so you can appreciate the gloriousness of this waterfall even if you don’t live in the area.
This is definitely a hike to repeat!